Adversity Part II

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“Deal With It. Adapt and Overcome”

Read Part 1 if you haven’t already.

A critical component in increasing our ability to deal with adversity is witnessing others travel through the same or worse. Though the these stories may not exactly match your own, you’ll find ones that are close enough for you to grab onto and use to pull you to the other side. This is important because, as I said in Part 1, if you don’t learn how to travel through adversity you’ll keep trying to overcome it. If you keep overcoming it you’ll never build the skills or strength required to live out your purpose in life. You’ll never come fully alive!

These stories of resurrection and redirection come from all walks of life. Personal and professional triumph and defeat. Though the stories I’m going to use below were shared from a diverse group of our members, they all contain a common thread. A SOFREP member provided a quote from Brandon Webb’s book, The Red Circle, which perfectly described the common characteristic each contributor demonstrated.

Deal with it. Adapt and Overcome.”

Having personally heard these word from Brandon, I can translate what he means a little better for you.

  • Tough = Dude. Shut up, stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.

  • Deal with it = Don’t do what you want to do, do what needs to get done.

  • Adapt = This obstacle was put here so that you can grow stronger.

  • Overcome = Knock it out of the park!

Below listen to the contributing members about how they personally embodied these principles of adversity and just said to themselves: “Deal with it. Adapt and Overcome.”

Bone Crushing Mental Pain

Michael Stephen Fuchs: a fiction writer who took 17 years to make his writing career work said:

Tough = Shut up, stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.”

Everyone tells you, “Oh, you have to never give up – no matter what!” and similar pabulum (naive, simplistic). What they don’t tell you is that you’re going to have to refuse to quit, and dig down deeper, about 100 more times *after* that first time you face adversity and “refuse to quit – no matter what!” It goes through many cycles, and gets a lot harder, than that initial advice would lead you to believe.”

Michael is describing what I call “Bone crushing mental pain.” There are certainly times in life where quitting would be a good idea, but there are also those times in life when quitting isn’t an option. That means you’re going to go through an amount of pain that only few can endure. I’m talking about heart beating out of your chest, tears in your eyes and abject failure.

He dealt with it = He didn’t do what he wanted to do. He did what needed to get done.

“The thing that’s probably saved my writing career is having read well over 100 military books for research: nonfiction, history, and memoirs – particularly SOF memoirs. And it’s nearly impossible to be exposed to the attitudes of these real-life superheroes without some of it rubbing off.”

Michael dealt with it and moved through adversity with patience and perseverance.

He adapted = The obstacle was put here for a reason. He grew!

“Whenever I feel overwhelmed, all I have to do (for instance) is think of Marcus Luttrell – with multiple fractures, a gunshot wound, a broken back, alone, lost, all his friends dead – and who kept on trying to make it anyway (and did). That makes anything I’m facing (obviously) look ridiculous. To my mind, that mindset – and the proper response to adversity – was best and most elegantly described by Brandon Webb in The Red Circle: “Tough. Deal with it. Adapt and Overcome.” With those last three words, you almost can’t lose at life.”

Michael clearly adapts to adversity by leaning on stories of inspiration that would allow him to crawl forward one more inch. Every time we take that extra step, we not only move forward, but we also build more strength and stamina in the face of adversity. He overcame and knocked it out of the park!

“My thanks to all who have chosen a life of service – and extra thanks for helping me, by your examples, make a success of mine.”

Michael recognizes the importance of acknowledging the sources that bring us through adversity. This is very important because it becomes all too easy to forget about the help we received. If we actually start believing that we do things on our own, we may just very well go into the next situation alone only to get smoked. It’s within the belly of adversity that we achieve the things we need to succeed in life, and help from others is on the top of that list of achievements.

Intentional Adversity

B. Harrison describes a time in his life where the intentional application of adversity produced lifelong lessons and strength.

He said: “Tough = Shut up, stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.”

“I had to work the following day, which was even more difficult. Working in a bar kitchen where the temp was upwards of 110 deg F, on my feet, dehydrated, sore in places I’d never knew I had, and inner thighs that were ground to hamburger meat. I puked a couple times, drained some massive glasses of water, and by the end of the shift I was feeling pretty damned sorry for myself. It took a couple weeks for me to get back out there due to work shifts, and this time I was more prepared.”

Too often our culture “poo-poos” anything that is self inflicted. “You’re crazy” is a regular comment when we do things extreme or out of the ordinary. Well, I think they’re crazy for not doing things out of the ordinary. Intentional adversity is as important as intentionally working out. You need to build the strength before you need it.

He dealt with it = He didn’t do what he wanted to do. He did what needed to get done.

“I didn’t drink a fifth of whiskey the night before, and actually got some real sleep. It wasn’t so tough this time, but it certainly wasn’t what most people would consider fun. But the bonds built with the guys out there are indelible, and I was slowly earning the respect of my peers. The next year was even tougher. Now I was an “old guy” at the age of 22, and I had to be an example.”

B. Harrison provides a perfect, be it obvious, example of how adversity can knock the “crap” out of our life. I’m being literal here. I really mean knock all of the “crap” we bring into our life that slows us down.

When I first got in the Navy, the drinking age in San Diego (thanks Tijuana) was 18. Being genetically predisposed to drink excessively, I made a pretty good go of it for a while. It took about 6 weeks before waking up at 0430 for morning uniform inspections knocked the will to party every night right out of me. Intentional adversity, like enlisting in the Navy or signing up for a Tough Mudder or Spartan race, can keep you pretty straight!

B. Harrison also mentions the building of bonds and friendships. I don’t know any better way to forge lifelong relationships than going through adversity with other people. Since we need others so much to succeed, this makes for a very useful practice.

He adapted = The obstacle was put here for a reason. He grew!

“No matter how sleep deprived, hungry, bitchy or sore I was, I had to make sure the new guys, especially the freshman never saw me complain, and that I was always out front giving 100%. The leadership we had in place needed to be able to rely on me, so I didn’t get any “off” days to just be part of the mob. When we broke a log, I started trying to push the freshman from behind, getting them to pick up the pace (“Knees to chest bitches! Knees to chest!”) That was the most ineffective form of leadership I’ve ever tried; it got me nowhere. What really turned the corner with them is when I started being the guy out front. When we set a log down, after checking it for binds (can snap a leg pretty easy with a 1500 lb log) and rolls (again, making sure it didn’t pin someone), I’d be the first to break the log and start running for the next one.”

B. Harrison demonstrates a few things here as he adapted. By putting himself in a leadership role he was able to better manage the pain. Being focused on others has got me through a lot of difficult situations, and it will do the same for you. Next time you are in a tough situation, pivot your gaze outward to the concerns of others. You’ll notice a boost of power and energy.

Once again, we can see where we can pick up the things that make us successful in life. B. Harrison learned that leading from behind never works. Adversity in this case forced him to adopt a servant leader methodology, requiring him to move out in front of his team. A life lesson with endless implications.

He overcame and knocked it out of the park!

“I wouldn’t trade one penny of tuition or one second of time for those days out in the woods, building the character of those that came behind me–and hopefully setting a worthy example to follow. I saw guys go from soft, coddled white-collar boys with everything in the world handed to them, to hard-eyed, lean and tough men in the span of ten weeks each fall. So, when I run into something in my work or personal life that is stressful, unpalatable, or I just don’t feel like doing, I always have my time out in the woods to remind me that I have done harder things, and I have pushed myself far beyond what I have to now. And that gives me all the strength I need to suck it up, nut up and get back to business.”

Because of this intentionality, B. Harrison has been able to dramatically affect not only his life, but the lives of others for the better. There are two quotes here that I think important to remember:

I wouldn’t trade one penny of tuition or one second of time for those days out in the woods.”

Think about it. You’ve probably never heard a story of adversity where the person who went through it wouldn’t change a thing. Why? Because of what they gained from the experience.

I saw guys go from soft, coddled white-collar boys with everything in the world handed to them, to hard-eyed, lean and tough men in the span of ten weeks each fall.”

It doesn’t matter if you were in the military, college or a challenging foot race. Adversity is to be counted a blessing, it teaches and strengthens us if we allow ourselves to stay in it long enough for it to work.



He said: “Tough = Shut up, stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.”

“I’ve had my own adversities to struggle through, and at times they have seemed overwhelming.”

Clearly decktechonthe1047 describes a situation that, for a time, was beyond his ability to see a way through. No doubt situations that overwhelm us can be some of the worst. Often times it’s these very situations that lead us to the most important thing anyone of us can have in our life. A mentor!

He dealt with it = He didn’t do what he wanted to do. He did what needed to get done.

“So in order to develop an adversity muscle, I sought out a mentor. Two of them, to be exact. One is a US Marine veteran of Vietnam, and the other is a retired big city cop who spent the majority of his career working in narcotics. Both of them have experienced death, divorce, financial loss, and alcoholism.”

decktechonthe1047 did the smartest and most effective thing that can be done when the odds are overwhelming. He found mentors, much like a coach, training partner and counselor. Mentors can make all the difference in the world.

When things get bad in life, it can be easy to sink into a world of seclusion. It’s a difficult phenomenon to explain when you know you need someone’s help, but at the same time you can’t conceive how they could make a difference.

He adapted = The obstacle was put here for a reason. He grew!

“I regularly meet/talk with them on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Finer examples are difficult to come by.”

Only decktechonthe1047 could tell us, but I would guess that getting the first meetings going was the hardest part. He adapted, which meant he changed something within. The kind of change that we could never make without our good friend adversity.

He overcame and knocked it out of the park!

“It pays to stick with the winners.”

Possibly one of the most pure forms of happiness is experienced when we’re in a situation that we know if we don’t quit, we’re going to make it. For me, that’s one of the best ways to describe the feeling of having a mentor.

Mentors can come in different forms. Of course having a person to meet with face to face is terrific, but to actually find one of experience and accomplishment is tough. Often we need to find alternative sources like books, seminars, and study groups.

Regardless of your situation, finding and maintaining a mentor in any capacity is essential.

One way or another, you’re going to have to become the best version of you in life and that version lies beyond the things that you are not good at. That means adversity can’t be something you try and overcome. Adversity is something you have to go right through.

I know it sounds uncomfortable, but it’s time you went out and failed. Go do things that you’re bad at and safely push yourself into situations in which you have no answers. Gain confidence and peace as you go out and fail.

Discussions of a Tribe:

1) What adversity have you traveled through that you are now glad for?

2) What new strength or skill did you gain from it and how is it affecting your life today?


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