My Mom – top – with her brothers and sisters arriving in Canada.
In her early twenties living through the heart of the Second World War in Italy. She’s scared. Left to take care of her young children while her husband is off in Siberia fighting as a part of the Alpini (Italian Special Forces). She works the land and takes care of her children. There’s no money, and little to no hope.
Those hard years prepared my Nonna (grandma) for the many other hard years that would come in a remarkably tough life. But a happy and fulfilling one. When others would look for a way out, or dive into depression, my Nonna would smile. She raised a great woman – my Mom – under circumstances far from ideal in so many ways.
She’s someone that I look up to. Respect. And admire as much as anyone on this planet. And if it weren’t for her hard life, she wouldn’t be the same warm, caring, and tough-as-nails woman she is today.
Every single person on this planet faces adversity
We’re also never put through a situation that we can’t handle. Some break, quit, and ask “why me”, but we all have the ability to push through and succeed.
In starting my own business I took a risk. I took a financial risk, but also the risk of not really knowing if what I was doing was going to work. People close to me told me to have a plan B. But I didn’t listen. It was tough. I saw others achieve success fast (although an extreme rarity), while my business seemed to develop at a snails pace.
There were times when I’d ask “is this all really worth it? Why am I putting myself through these insane hours, and all of this uncertainty and fear?” My answer: I have the ability to make a dream become a reality. And where I am in relation to where I’m going to be is correct. I am where I’m supposed to be. I’m enjoying where I am, and I’m working as hard as I possibly can to move forward everyday.
It’s in our darkest hours that we learn. We learn simple lessons like I learned – and am learning – about building a business, but we also learn important life lessons, like what we can accomplish, and what we can endure.
I’m currently reading Man’s Search for Meaning for the second time. Going through the psychology of a man in a concentration camp is fascinating. Every one of them is in there for no real reason other than the fact that one man hate’s their ancestry. And yet, they have hope. In relative terms the few that survived this monstrosity, like Viktor Frankl, never looked at life the same way.
During their imprisonment their appreciation for, what would have been the most insignificant things when they were free, grew tenfold. For example something so simple as time alone, in solitude, was so rare and valued.
When we go through our struggles, there’s one lesson that many great people have learned: where I am at this moment in time, is exactly where we’re supposed to be. It’s hard to think like that. And I don’t mean that you don’t do your all to change it. But there’s value even in the worst of times. All we can do is keep working and never, never, never, never, give up.
Stuck in a world he so desperately wants out of. Born to a father who won’t allow him to attend school. Yet learning is something that fascinates him more than anything in his life. That, coupled with his need to prove to others that where he is, isn’t where he’s going to be, feed this young man’s work ethic. His refusal to accept that this will be his future.
So, he teaches himself to read. He leaves the dirt floors of the home he grew up in and somehow finds his way into college – albeit having no formal education beforehand, aside from his self-taught reading and writing skills.
He wanted to be somewhere else. He wanted to be someone else. Yet, if life hadn’t gone exactly how it had, Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t grow into the great man that he became. It was his struggles. His misfortunes. His starting point in life that developed his character. His desire to prove that he was better than where he began.
With dreams of being an NFL quarterback he now finds himself bagging groceries at a supermarket. And this isn’t a supermarket that he owns, rather, it’s one where he’s an employee. He has a growing family, and this proud man is bagging groceries.
Even though he’s nowhere close to his dream, he’s learning to swallow his pride. He’s learning to have faith even when time’s are at their worst, and when the future looks it’s dimmest. Of course, Kurt Warner would soon get a call from the St. Louis Rams, a team who is in desperate need of a quarterback. The call leads to a job. The job leads to a Super Bowl, and quite possibly a Hall of Fame career.
When he was bagging groceries, he was exactly where he was supposed to be. Learning, getting hungrier, and appreciating what he had when he had ‘nothing’.
Even if you’re fat, out of shape, broke, unsuccessful, and depressed, you have nothing to lose. You are where you’re supposed to be. You have an opportunity to learn from the situation you are in. But you also have the opportunity to change. To rise above. To succeed.
Take that opportunity. Don’t let where you are determine where you are going to be. Let it motivate you to get there.
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