Handling Adversity: Prisoner, Settler, or Pioneer?

Handling Adversity: Prisoner, Settler, or Pioneer?

By David Benzel

“Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”
– J. Willard Marriott

Any cyclist will tell you that riding downhill or downwind is a lot of fun. It’s possible to go fast with little effort. However, if your life depended on the strength and endurance of someone on a bicycle to reach emergency help in the shortest time possible, choose a cyclist who has spent a lot of time riding uphill or into the wind. They are the ones who have overcome the adversity of incline and resistance and are therefore the strongest cyclists. The trials of their training have given them an edge, both physically and psychologically.

In his book Adversity Quotient, Dr. Paul Stoltz offers this definition of success, which helps us understand adversity: “The degree to which one moves forward and upward, progressing in one’s lifelong mission, despite all obstacles or other forms of adversity.”

It appears that people come in three flavors when it comes to facing adversity, and these responses explain the varying degrees of success we witness in ourselves and our children. There are Prisoners, Settlers, and Pioneers. Let’s take a brief look at each one.

Most likely to give up;
Conquered by fear; controlled by anger, captured by circumstances;
Use language like “I can’t” and “It’s impossible”;
Perform at minimum levels, just enough to get by.

Most likely to cover up;
Satisfied with today; satisfied with themselves; satisfied with being comfortable;
Use language like “It’s good enough” and “That’s as far as I can go”;
Will give some effort, show some drive, meet the requirements but never excel.

Most likely to climb up;
Learning continuously; changing strategies and habits; striving to meet the needs of the team or the cause;
Use language like “I choose to…” and “Just do it”;
Shows a sense of urgency, embraces challenges, and always driven to improve.

According to Dr. Stoltz, the three main factors at the root of your child’s response to adversity are genetics, upbringing, and faith. Even if your children picked their parents carefully, we must provide a principle-centered model for their upbringing and a foundation for their faith. Then, when faced with adversity in sports and in life, we can hope they will respond as Pioneers.

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David Benzel is the Founder and Executive Director of Growing Champions for Life, Inc., which provides parents and coaches with practical tools & positive strategies for helping athletes reach their full potential while enjoying the youth sport experience. David is also the author of “From Chump to Champ – How Individuals Go From Good to Great” www.growingchampionsforlife.com.