I used to think successful people achieved great things because they faced less adversity than those who fail. But when I became an adult, I realized everybody encounters challenges of one kind or another. What matters is how we respond to the obstacles we face.
Probably no one communicates the truth of that concept better than best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, our guest on today and tomorrow’s programs we’ve titled, “Battling Giants in Everyday Life.” His latest works tell the stories of people who not only overcame adversity, but in many ways those challenges became the catalyst for their success.
Take, for instance, research conducted on American prisons. The data showed a large percentage of the inmates have lost at least one of their parents in childhood. On the surface, those numbers would seem to tell a very clear story. When individuals suffer a traumatic loss early in life, they never recover.
But that’s definitely not the case for everyone. It wasn’t true for me after my mom died when I was 9. In fact, research shows that a lot of people who suffer serious setbacks come through their adversity stronger, not weaker.
A related study contrasted those inmates with highly successful men, from entrepreneurs to prime ministers and presidents. They were a diverse group in almost every respect, except for one surprising factor: an unusual number of them had lost at least one parent in childhood.
Both the successful men and the prisoners suffered equally terrible experiences, but their response was different. One group grew stronger and discovered valuable life principles they applied to their future success.
Malcolm believes a similar outcome is possible for all of us if we understand that adversity isn’t ultimately what determines our success or failure. It’s how we respond to challenges through God’s grace.
Tune in for these programs on your local radio station, online, or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app. I think you’ll find our conversation with Malcolm as interesting, and as profound, as I did.