The word Adversity has been used by us for over 800 years and came from the Latin work ‘Adversus’ which literally translates as ‘Turned Against’. This is also why we sometimes use the expression ‘Turning adversity into opportunity’. I can find no greater inspiration than the following two examples of Resilience, again a Latin work which means to “rebound or return to shape” in the face of overwhelming adversity.
One is the person who is known as “The Resilience Role Model” - Nelson Mandela: “banned” in 1952, arrested 10 years later and faced the death penalty; got tuberculosis in jail; jailed on Robben Island for 27 years, almost all in solitary confinement, aka isolation. He never gave up, never lost his dignity or his courage. Released in 1990; Nobel Prize in 1993, President in 1994. He is still revered. As he said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done. There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the shadow of death, again and again, before we reach the mountaintop of our desires”. Could any of us have done that? Read or re-read his seminal book, “A Long Walk To Freedom” – it will inspire you!
Second, someone you might not have heard of: Victor Frankel. Austrian, a Holocaust survivor, sent to the Ghetto where he taught, then sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. His mother and brother were murdered at Auschwitz, his wife was separated from him and sent to Belsen-Belsen, where she too was murdered. As he wrote, the bestselling book “Man’s Search For Meaning” he penned, “finding meanings in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones, constitute a reason to continue living”. Could you have not only survived what he went through, but to have come out stronger? This is resilience! A brilliant man and inspirational book!
Adversity is one of the most powerful forces in life. The next few weeks will be extremely challenging, and we will need to dig deep to overcome the hurdles that face us and I can think of nothing more inspiring then the stories of Nelson Mandela and Victor Frankel. Put fear aside. Think what you can do for others. Protect your family. Be kind to yourself and others. Be hopeful, help others and be grateful for what you have.