Experience, The Secret Sauce for Overcoming Adversity


marathon goals

Overcoming Adversity by Enduring

Since publishing my post about finding new homes for our horses, many of our friends both real and virtual, have contacted us with concern.Thinking we must be very sad.

We are not. As I wrote in reply to a comment from Cait Lynch a fellow horse person, it is still more relief than grief almost a week after the horses went to their new homes.

We were devastated when we had to suddenly find homes for our horses in Zimbabwe, we did not have the time or resources to make the best possible arrangements. It was a traumatic time, we lost more than our horses. We did the best we could under the circumstances. All found safe but not ideal, homes. Most are now dead from old age or horse sickness, the virus that kills many horses in Africa.

Why the difference and what has it got to do with overcoming adversity, this month’s topic?

The difference is experience, it has everything to do with overcoming adversity. It also has a lot to do with fear and the expectation of the outcome of an event often being far worse than the reality of the event when it happens.

In my post on 5 September, 4 lessons for Overcoming Adversity , I wrote about how we became used to the increasing violence as it gradually approached our farm over a three-year period. We became conditioned to the certainty that we would lose our farm just as our fellow farmers had, even though we did everything we could to resist the evil.

Just so with our horses going out of our lives last week. We had been through the experience before, under far worse conditions and with much less ability to influence the outcome for the horses or ourselves. We survived that experience and learned from it.

This time around, we had the benefit of that whole experience, the expectation, the fear of its effect and the reality. We also had the time to find the best solution and to prepare ourselves for it.

Experience in overcoming adversity in one area of life helps in others. The resilience I developed working long hours on the farm just out of school, helped me survive the rigorous army training and long patrols in very hot, dry conditions. That helped me train for and run ultra-marathons. My experience of losing everything when my business in South Africa failed and then starting another business helped me in the dark days in Zimbabwe and to start again from zero in Canada.

If we open our minds and take the blinkers off, we can find and learn from lessons from all our experiences and everywhere. The painful ones can often teach us more than the pleasant ones.

The photo at the top of this post was taken at the halfway point of my third 85 km Comrades ultra marathon. I had just run 42.5 km (26 miles) in 4 hours and 49 minutes. An enlargement has hung on my home office wall ever since. That photo and the memory of enduring the agony and fatigue of the next 42 km and 4 and a bit hours inspired me during sleepless nights on our farm when the mob was beating drums, lighting fires outside our fence and threatening to kill us.

It inspired me when I was lying in the critical care unit at the hospital after my heart attack. It inspired me to get through last year’s brutal Canadian winter. It inspires me when things do not go as well as expected.

Most importantly of all, it reminds me that “This too shall pass”.

Lessons learned from experience, the secret sauce for overcoming adversity.

What lessons have you learned through your experiences that can help you in your life.

Or help others if you share them here in a comment.


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