Success Adversity and momondays, a strange title for a blog post – or is it?
I am an enthusiastic supporter of momondays. Since discovering momondays, I have spoken at 3 different venues, plan to speak at more. I regularly get to the Kitchener event at the Edelweiss on the third Monday each month. The one in London less often.
momondays is a platform where anybody from experienced professional speaker to knee-shakingly nervous novice getting on stage for the first time can tell their story.
A momondays event follows the format of three 10 to 12 minute speeches, a short entertainment act, a plug for a charity, a break to meet other people, then three more speeches.
Most shows are held at a venue where a meal and beverages can be bought. It’s a great occasion for entertaining business contacts at tables of 8 which can be reserved in advance.
In the 100 plus speeches I have listened to, I have noticed a common thread of success and adversity running through almost all the stories.
The details are all different, some presented with humour, others with raw courage, all with honesty and none with excuses or expectations of sympathy. All relate a journey from periods of struggle to a better life. Many describe painful transitions along the journey, setbacks, new challenges, hurdles, failure and eventual arrival at a better place. A better life.
One recent story of a woman who refused to give up on her husband after a severe medical condition left him paralysed and unable to talk. She refused to follow advice to have him placed in a “home”. Despite two sons at school, an uncertain income and no house of their own, she nursed him back to health. That night at momondays, over 20 years later, he stood up in the audience to acknowledge her sacrifice and love.
There is hardly a dry eye in the house after many speakers finish their stories.
Success Adversity, the stories are full of both.
How different to what we see and read in the media today.
Most stories in the media and those heard from society at large, are full of inconveniences made out to be adversity. Entitlement and demands. Excuses not effort. Existence not success.
In recent conversations with a wide selection of people about why this should be so, I have been struck by the number of comments that “life is too easy”, “too bland”, “too safe”, “too controlled”.
I am not minimising the difficulties experienced by students with huge college loans or those working in sunset industries. For example, taxi drivers facing the same fate as that of elevator attendants in the late 20th century. Or fax machine manufacturers in the early 21st.
The world is changing, it always has changed and it always will. In the 1970s, newly married, I had no idea how I would ever be able to buy a home. A few years later, we bought our first house. Paying the mortgage was a struggle, just like it is now for first time home owners without wealthy parents. But we managed.
I have just finished reading James Holland’s well researched and detailed book Dam Busters about the extraordinary campaign to destroy three major dams in Germany during WWII. Despite difficult conditions, stronger than expected defences and losing 8 out of 19 aircraft, two of the dams were destroyed, the third damaged, the duration of the war almost certainly shortened. 56 air crew were shot down in those 8 planes, only 3 of them survived.
This is not a post about WWII. It’s about success adversity and conflict, I wrote about it here too. The point is that few of the 133 men who took off on that flight were over 30 some only 19 years old. Most had already flown 20 or more sorties, some had already crashed or parachuted out of damaged aircraft.That pattern of young men risking their lives and dying for their countries, was repeated throughout the air forces, navies and armies on both sides of the conflict.
In 70 years we have gone from 19 and 20 year olds taking huge risks, flying difficult to handle Lancaster bombers and living in constant fear, to a society that feels aggrieved by certain words, non-events called “micro aggressions” and toilets identified by gender. The search for the latest “app” has become more important than making an effort.
Are the younger generations incapable of the same patriotic and altruistic attitudes and actions as in earlier times?
I don’t believe so, I believe each generation rises to the challenges it needs to. There are enough good examples of people with the right attitude – many of them appearing on momondays and similar stages.
The problem is that life has become too controlled, too safe, too politically correct. Any one expressing an original thought is attacked as racist, homophobic, insensitive or, horror of horrors, right-wing or conservative. Values that held families, communities and nations together in earlier times are being discarded. Christianity is under attack.
It’s time to nourish those values that have gone out of fashion, time to let children explore, fall out of trees, skin their knees and have their feelings hurt.
Time to recognise that success comes after adversity. It takes effort, determination and resilience, not excuses and an attitude of entitlement.