Before I became a full-time entrepreneur in 2005, I felt like I had succeeded at everything up to that point: I had a well-paying job at a software company, I enjoyed traveling with my wife, and we had our first baby on the way.
But unlike so many successful people I read about, I had never really failed at anything. This always puzzled and troubled me.
Since then, I’ve failed at plenty of things — though I don’t view them as FAILURES, but rather as adversity that has allowed me to grow.
Adversity is funny thing: it’s never fun while you’re experiencing it, but it’s somehow good for you. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that while I’m not going to go out of my way to seek out adversity, when it does happen, I should accept and even embrace it because I know it will make me a better person.
My Story of Adversity
Four years ago I bought a 12-unit apartment building. It took forever to close, and once I did, it turned into a nightmare that nearly bankrupted me. As I tell other experienced investors and real estate professionals about what happened, they are stunned. They tell me that they’ve never heard anything like that happening, and most certainly not in combination (read all about my story in my very first BiggerPockets article a year ago here).
For about 18 months, my life was a complete nightmare. Eventually I developed a peace about it and ultimately overcame the challenges, and I now have a stabilized building.
Despite the difficulties at the time, in hindsight this period of adversity changed me in several (positive) ways.
First of all, I learned a LOT. I learned what to do and what not to do. I learned not to give up, but to persevere and to be at peace regardless of the situation. I feel better prepared to handle whatever comes next. I have a much bigger comfort zone now. Where before I was overwhelmed at the idea of owning a 12-unit building, I can now see me purchasing a 75+ unit building.
And finally much of my experience with this one building expanded my capacity to help others. I am now writing and teaching others to purchase apartment buildings, which has been an incredibly rewarding addition to my real estate investing career.
It’s not easy to accept or even embrace adversity because our nature is to preserve our comfort and to seek what we already know and can control.
But the more I reflect on the challenges in my life, the more I’m convinced that adversity makes us better versions of ourselves in the following 4 ways.
4 Ways Adversity Makes Us Better Versions of Ourselves
Adversity forces us to expand our comfort zone so that we have to deal with things that stretch us in new ways.
This process is rarely pleasant, but once we are through it, we find that we can now tackle bigger dreams.
Adversity helps us overcome our fear of failure.
If we know in advance that we will encounter challenges that are ultimately good for us, we will not fear them. Instead, we’re more likely to embark on new adventures rather than sit on the sidelines, paralyzed by fear. This makes us bolder and able live life more fully.
Adversity is the ultimate teacher.
While I have learned from my successes, I have learned 100 times more from my setbacks. Many times these lessons have been game changers that have elevated me to a whole new level.
Adversity increases our capacity to help others.
If you experienced divorce or the death of a loved one (adversity), you’re able to help others deal with similar situations. Similarly, as we gain battle scars from our entrepreneurial ventures, we become increasingly equipped to mentor others who are just getting started.
As painful as adversity is when we’re experiencing it, I’ve learned not to run from it. Adversity makes us a better version of ourselves if we learn to accept and even embrace it.
Was there a difficult time that in hindsight made YOU a better person?
Share your experiences in the comments below!