Many people run away from adversity and avoid difficult situations. While this is probably a natural impulse, this strategy only delays inevitable challenges and hampers potential growth. As I look back at my life and consider the events that helped me grow into the father, husband and leader I am today, it is the most difficult times that have forged the greatest resilience and most shaped my guiding outlook.
Adversity came early in my life. When I was 11 years old, my father suffered a brain aneurysm. The event left him blind and with severe brain damage, and he would spend the rest of his life in a nursing home. My mother was left to care for him and her seven children alone.
My siblings and I learned quickly that if we really wanted something, we had to find a way to earn it ourselves. We also learned the value of a strong, caring community to support our self-sufficiency. Our neighborhood and church group took all seven of us children under their wings. In fact, each of us would spend time living in these people’s homes over the next three years as my mother cared for my father.
Each family I lived with taught me something of great value that I’ve carried into my adult life and career. From the Griffiths and their orchard, I learned to work hard and that it was okay to be tired and work to finish the job anyway. From the Headmans, I learned that family was more important than anything, and when family was visiting, it was all about them. From the Butlers, I learned that a blended family can be happy, and that kids from different parents can fight and argue, but still love. Most importantly of all, I learned that what everyone was sharing in order to strengthen me and my family, also made them stronger, too.
I’ve tried to retain these lessons as I’ve raised my own family and pursued my career in real estate coaching. The challenges of my childhood showed me that there is strength in human connection and family ties. My drive for success and career-focused lifestyle have me working away from my family often, but each Sunday, my wife and I make a point to have our children and grandchildren—18 people in all—over for dinner. It’s an epic event that I wouldn’t miss for anything.
I have experienced many challenges in life, and I’m grateful to have been able to learn from them. Everything we experience, good and bad, will influence the way we connect with others, how we lead, and the people we become. The only choice we have is what we choose to take away from those experiences.
Verl Workman is the founder and CEO of Workman Success Systems, a real estate consulting company that specializes in private coaching and building highly effective teams. Visit workmansuccess.com to learn how to kickstart your team.