Adversity in the “A”

There have been many moments of adversity and challenge within my twenty-two year old lifetime, none more or less than another, but each situation an experience of its own. It turns out, each moment of adversity, whatever it may be, requires decisiveness. At any moment we have three options: We can move forward, go backwards, or stay still.

Carter

After my first semester of college, I went back home to Atlanta, Georgia for an internship. I did not know what I was doing, how I was going, to do it, or how long I was going to do it for. And, at nineteen years old, with no college degree, no prior experience, and no money, I was being thrusted into the working world of everyday life, at least in the city of Atlanta. Acclimating to this new way of life was probably the most challenging aspect of it. All of my friends where away at college and I had no car, which forced me to create a new friend group or live my life binge watching Netflix. The job itself was not strenuous what so ever. I worked for a company called The Angel Advisors, under a man named Jim Eckstein. Jim was more of a teacher than an actually boss. My schedule only required me to work four-days a week, for seven-hours a day. I was not making much money, but the amount of experience, the connections I was making, and the knowledge I was gaining was indispensable. In combination with my leisurely schedule, I was able to navigate this “new world” I had entered into with the knowledge and skills I was acquiring at work. The impact of entering into an entirely “new” culture, as oppose to the high school and college life a had grown accustomed to over my lifespan, was none-the-less challenging, but never the less beneficial, educational, and very, very, exciting.

Overcoming the challenge of adapting to a “new” way of life is attributed to my own knowledge, skills, desires to progress, trial-and-error, and the “coaching/mentoring” I received from my boss and several others. I was once reading a book titled The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell. He told a short story about how one time, after lecturing a room full of college students, one of the students approached him, saying, “I have a very busy schedule, and I do not have time to practice every one of those laws. What is the single most important thing I need to know about leadership in order to do well?” Maxwell thought for amount before replying. Finally saying, “The single, most-important thing you need to know about leadership is that there’s more than one thing you need to know about leadership.”

Growing up, my mom instilled in my brothers and idea this idea that “we were always becoming something greater.” — where we were at the moment and whatever we were doing was almost irrelevant, because we were always working toward something and what we were doing was just a step we had to take in order to get there. But, whatever we did, we did it well, or at least as well as possible. I heard a story once about a man who tore down one of the walls to his business and asked his sons to rebuild it. They believed the job to be an impossible task at ten and twelve years old, but a year and a half later, they finished it. After they did, their father turned and looked at them, saying, “Don’t ever tell me there is something you can’t do.” Later on, one of the sons wrote about that experience saying, “You don’t focus on building a wall — you don’t set out to build a wall. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as best as a brick can possibly be laid.’ And, you do that again, and again, and again. And soon, you have a wall.”

I would not have been able to overcome the challenge of assimilation without the coaching/mentoring of a number of people. And, while everything I have learned has aided me on this journey we call life, there are two pieces of advice I received early-on which come to mind. I have been told and continue to be told, the people you surround yourself with is the type of person you become. And, the people I have surrounded myself with, interact with, be-friend, while none of them are perfect, every-single one of those people have the innate desire to succeed. Secondly, within the first few days of my internship, Jim bought me a book titled Remarkable! In it, there is a passage which reads, “… there are two types of people in this world — those who seek to create value in everything they do and those who seek to extract it.”

-cole