After a windstorm, only the sturdiest trees remain standing. The harsher the wind, the stronger a tree must be in order to withstand it. Trees that survive the most adverse weather conditions have developed deep roots and stout trunks. Strong winds cull weaker vegetation.
A forest that has been subjected to storms is much sturdier than woodlands in protected areas. The weaker trees have been removed, allowing more room for the stronger trees to thrive. A forest protected from adverse weather becomes overcrowded with thin, weak trees all competing for nutrients and sunlight. When this area is eventually exposed to a storm, virtually all of the vegetation will be leveled.
A forest constantly tested by adversity will grow and endure. The protected area, which is seldom exposed to challenging conditions, becomes weak with little longevity. Your individual character and your life have a close parallel to the strength of a tree and a forest.
Challenge and adversity are the winds that make your stronger. As you solve problems and overcome difficulties, you develop in ways not otherwise possible. Although you have within you everything needed to handle whatever may come your way, it takes a storm to bring these capabilities to the surface.
Your character is rooted in your values. The deeper the roots, the greater the challenges you can withstand. Compromising your principles yields the same results as being without principles. Either way, your roots are damaged, substantially reducing your stability.
Principles are not negotiable nor are they for sale. Each time you adhere to them, your roots grow deeper. With every test you survive, your trunk also becomes stronger. Each storm you endure makes it a little easier to successfully survive the next one.
The news each day has numerous examples of people without rooted principles being toppled. Those who succumb to greed are always ultimately called to task. People who mistreat or take advantage of others are bound to crash. Substance abuse is never a shortcut to happiness. However, it is a direct route to self-destruction.
Living a principled life isn’t always easy. Facing ridicule or derision is more common than it should be. These are some of the winds you will face. When you feel drained, remember that by withstanding challenges you are becoming stronger.
There are many decisions we have to make on a daily basis. It’s easy to get distracted with minor, yet annoying, insignificant issues. When you are faced with a real crisis, which is a storm in your life, you are forced to put things back in their proper perspective.
People who survive major catastrophes relate how their outlook has changed. They have a renewed appreciation for each and every day. They no longer get caught up with, or bothered by, situations that don’t really matter. It’s important to maintain your focus on the big picture, which includes the direction and quality of your life, along with making progress towards your goals. Your level of satisfaction will increase while your stress decreases.
If you avoid bad weather, by taking the easy route, you do yourself a disservice. You forfeit the opportunity to grow stronger. Unfortunately, too many people fail to understand this process. They have been conditioned to dodge challenges rather than meeting them head on and finding solutions.
When faced with challenges, welcome them as a chance to improve. In so doing your mind will be directed to discover solutions rather than making excuses. Develop principles you can be proud of and never compromise them. You will then become one of the mightiest trees in the forest.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. 2009 Bryan Golden