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Why overcoming adversity is the #1 key to success


Have you ever heard someone say, “that person just got lucky!” when referring to someone who is successful? I hear it all the time. It’s funny because oftentimes people who aren’t successful think that its just pure luck. Yet, some people invest at the right time or start a business at an opportune moment in the market, but being a successful entrepreneur is much, much more than finding a lucky moment.

Being an entrepreneur means saying goodbye to stability and hello to uncertainty. It means having less time for the other things you probably would be doing if you had the free time. Being an entrepreneur is all about sacrifice, it is all about adversity. 

When I hear someone say “so and so got lucky,” I mostly just laugh at them and think “you’re just jealous”. Yes, some people magically get handed a successful family business or fortune. But if you sat most entrepreneurs down you will learn that most of them defeated the odds when most people counted them out. 

They learned that overcoming adversity is just as important as their skillset, their network and their eventual success.

overcoming adversity - man on cliff

I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into this matter and get someone else’s perspective on it, so who did I go to? Someone in my network who happens to be an Inc. 500 entrepreneur by the name of  Brian D. Evans.

He was able to build the the 25th fastest growing marketing and advertising company in the USA in 2015, landing his company in the top 3% for privately held companies. Pretty impressive yes, but definitely not an easy feat.

To understand Brian’s perspective a little better I asked him:

What obstacle or adversity did you have to overcome to get where you are today?

This was his answer:

“When I was in 2nd grade, they thought I had some kind of learning disability. I was behind par for a kid my age and not reading or writing at the right level for my grade. They gave me IQ tests and tried to figure out the “cause.” But the answer was simple, I was not a good group learner. I needed to DO things to learn. This set me down on a lifelong journey of learning by doing, and it is probably the number one reason why I have been successful and been able to create multi-million dollar businesses. I was literally forced from that young age to think of alternatives and find different ways to learn and get things done.”

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This just goes to show that someone who has grown companies like his wasn’t just “lucky.” He had to put in the time and have the drive to overcome what he did.

This is just one entrepreneur’s story of how it is possible to overcome adversity on the road to success.

Now I’m going to tell you mine.

I grew up playing hockey my whole life and, to put it simply, it basically ran my life. I would eat, sleep, and dream everything hockey. As I got older and became a teenager, I started to excel at the sport and became a leader on the teams I played on.

overcoming adversity - man with jersey

When I was 15, which is arguably one of the most important years for the development of a young hockey player, I tore my ACL. As a result, I needed reconstructive surgery to repair it. The rehabilitation process would take 6 months, which in the end would push me right to the start of next year’s tryouts.

Coming back within that 6 month window wasn’t going to be easy but it was doable. That didn’t stop me and I was able to come back healthy before the 6 months was over.

I was back!

But once I was on the ice for tryouts, I ended up hurting my wrist. I’ve hurt many things before so I knew this wasn’t anything serious. It just felt like a sprain or something.

Well, I was definitely wrong, as I ended up breaking one of the worst bones in your body to break called the scaphoid. It’s a tiny bone found in your wrist that has a huge vein that runs directly through it. The reason it was such a bad bone to break is because of the lack of blood flow when it’s injured.

I ended up needing a second surgery and guess what? This one would also require another 6 months of rehabilitation. Oh, and to cap it off, I would need to have wires put into my wrist for those 6 months, with a new cast needed every month.

Here I was 16 years old having gone through my 2nd surgery in a year, preventing me from playing the game I love. You’re probably thinking… you definitely quit after those disastrous years.

Nope, I sure didn’t. I didn’t stop playing for another 9 years. In those 9 years, I ended up playing junior hockey across Canada, won two championships, and secured a hockey scholarship to pursue post-secondary. I beat the odds.

This was all a result of not giving up and facing adversity head on. If I would have quit back when I was 16, I can tell you that I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here writing this to you. I wouldn’t have gone to business school because I wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

overcoming adversity - man hiking

I can also guarantee that I wouldn’t be writing this because I hated writing back then.

Life throws everyone a curveball.  It’s just up to the batter to pick what they want to do with the pitch. You can strikeout and give up, or you can swing for the fences and hope for the best. That is what separates the average from the extraordinary. 

Even though I’m not the best baseball player, I always swing for the fences. When I don’t have the skills, I always have the heart. This heart and dedication has provided every opportunity I have ever received in my life.

If this article teaches you anything, I want it to teach you that success is not handed to you. You have to scratch and claw at something if you want it badly enough.

You have to fail over and over again until you find the winning formula.

That’s what success is.

Photo credit: Unsplash

in your inbox everyday at 10am CST.

No fluff or "pie in the sky inspiration." Just real stories.

Written by Clinton Senkow

Entrepreneur, Writer, Founder of Connected Getaways (www.connectedgetaways.com)