Embracing Adversity and Hardship as a Gift
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you have chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” -E. Tolle
When relationships end, dreams collapse, failures mount and life gets hard, it’s common to view what’s happening to us as bad luck, unfortunate, or unfair. It’s easy to feel as if we’ve been abused, betrayed, and abandoned by someone or something.
Contrast these common reactions to adversity with that of Olympic gold medalist, television analyst, and genuinely remarkable human being, Scott Hamilton.
While visiting with Scott recently, I asked about his upbringing, his family, his skating, his cancer and how he continues boldly moving forward in life.
He shared that it all starts at the beginning.
Although his birth mother gave him up for adoption at just six weeks of age, Scott never felt anger, never felt unwanted. Instead, he shared a very different perspective:
“I felt chosen.”
He explained his birth mother gave him the remarkable gift of life, gave him the best love she could for the six weeks they were together, and then gave him to the most amazing family he could have imagined.
Scott felt that his new family chose him, too.
They wanted him to be fully part of their experiences, their family, their life. Scott was a sickly child, but they chose to get the best medical care they could for their son – and then to fill his days with the one activity that both lessened his physical discomfort and fueled his competitive spirit: figure skating.
He felt uniquely chosen to have the rare determination to deal with the inherent challenges of figure skating. Scott estimates that he’s fallen on the ice 41,600 times. He quickly adds, though, that he’s chosen to get right up every time.
Scott excelled in figure skating, far surpassed all local competition, and as a teenager was invited to compete at US Nationals. A bit nervous and unfocused that competition, he executed his routine terribly, falling five times.
As difficult as it may have been getting up after those five falls in order to finish his program, the news he received shortly afterwards would be far more gut-wrenching.
His mother had cancer, it was serious, and because of the oncoming financial strain on the family, the approaching year would be Scott’s last on the ice.
Thousands of hours spanning a dozen years of practice, hundreds of competitions, the dream of skating again nationally – and with any luck maybe even internationally – would soon come to an end.
And yet Scott seized even this as an opportunity, as a gift, as another example of being chosen.
He determined to be grateful for the final year his parents provided, to skate with everything he had and to leave no doubt about his passion for the sport or gratefulness for his parents. At the end of that year, Scott was again invited to the national championship. He not only won that national championship, he’d win every other skating competition over the next four years, including a gold medal in the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.
(With the 2018 Winter Olympics upon us, I visited Scott Hamilton on being an Olympian, walking among the world’s greatest athletes, competing, winning, watching his flag rise and his national anthem play. I also got to ask about the incredible journey that lead to gold medal, and the little known, but unbelievable journey that followed it. My friends, it’s an awesome conversation with a terrific human being. Listen to the Live Inspired Podcast to hear his story, and what it means to you as you author yours. Click here.)
How You Can Embrace Scott Hamilton’s “Chosen” Mindset
Although he fell some 41,600 times on the ice, and at least as many times off the ice, Scott Hamilton feels fortunate. In fact, he still feels chosen.
How might the way you show up, react and lead forward change if you chose to view the events of your life through the lens of being uniquely chosen for them?
How might this perspective inform how you feel about the minutia of each day, from traffic jams to financial strains, carpool lines to work meetings?
How might it elevate the manner in which you parent your little ones, love your spouse, embrace your singleness, serve your community, live, lead and love your life?
Commit to working with it, not against it.
Feeling chosen to do the work we do, lead the lives we live, and impact as many around us won’t keep us from falling down.
Instead, it provides the confidence to know that this will pass, the courage to get back up, and the ability to skate into the best versions of who we are called to be.
This is your day.
You were chosen for it.