Napoleon Hill said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” This is easy to say but much harder to live during times of adversity. What makes some people champions is their willingness to endure adversity that would debilitate others. Many have the opportunities and talents, but few have the perseverance to win. Learning to maintain a winning attitude during setbacks is a key attribute of a leader. Leaders learn to draw on their character to rise above the adversity, while pretenders sink during troubling times.

I count it one of my greatest blessings to have gone through many adversities in life. Adversity doesn’t make character, but it definitely reveals character. A fast starter in networking is not necessarily a champion until he finishes what he started. It’s not until you are knocked flat by adversities that your true value is revealed. I don’t wish challenges on anyone, but I know that mental muscles are strengthened through resistance. It isn’t what happens to you in life that counts as much as how you handle what happens to you. Challenges bring clarity of purpose.

Read the history of the greatest leaders. Every leader has defining moments of adversity that reveal something extra inside of him. There is no Winston Churchill of WWII fame without the Churchill who “failed” in WWI. Churchill was blamed for the failed Gallipoli invasion and banished from government. The criticism and scorn he endured during his desert experience after WWI prepared him for his destiny in WWII. His stand against Hitler flowed from his convictions solidified during his adversities. Great Britain had its finest hour because Churchill previously had his personal finest hour. Internal victories always precede external victories.

A leader is like a horse: neither are useful until they’re broken. Brokenness does not mean being a loser or having no spine. It means you are through with your personal ego. Only when you move from personal ego to a team spirit that focuses on others will true leadership begin.

Leaders help others overcome adversity to achieve their dreams. Leadership is not for the faint of heart, because adversity is a given for any true leader. Leaders must face and defeat their personal Goliaths before leading others into adversity. A leader’s example gives others the courage to face and defeat their personal Goliaths. By facing adversity, your leadership example inspires others to leadership. What an ennobling and rewarding experience!

How do you view adversities in your life? Are you getting bitter or better from them? Change your perspective and learn the lessons of perseverance. Leaders must expect their Goliaths and confront them. The next time you are dealing with adversity, remember that it carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. Now is the time to plant that seed to reap your leadership harvest.


ORRIN WOODWARD is a network marketing leader
and author of
Launching a Leadership Revolution. He was
featured in the Nov/Dec 2008 issue of
Networking Times.