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Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Why Adversity Is A Great Catalyst For Learning

“My great concern is not whether you have failed but whether you are content with your failure.” — Abraham Lincoln

No matter where we go to work, we are not an employee — we are a business with one employee: our self. Nobody owes us a career. Nobody owes us anything. We own it, as a sole proprietor. We must compete with millions of individuals every day of our career. We must enhance our value every day, hone our competitive advantage, learn, fail, adapt, move between jobs and industries — and — retrench so we can advance and learn new skills.

All of that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? The fascinating aspect is that school barely, if ever, taught us those lessons. We have to learn them ourselves. Its funny how adversity causes some people to break and others to break records. That’s what I’d like to discuss this week 1) the reality of college, 2) how adversity teaches us great lessons and 3) deciding to pursue passionate work.

Do we believe college is necessary for success? I do which is why I invested and went to Washington & Jefferson College. It may have been blindly signing away on a dotted line not knowing at 18 years of age what student loans were or how compounding interest doesn’t work in our favor but I still knew I had to pursue higher education because that’s what was programmed into my mind at a very young age. Even to quote the exceptionally great Nelson Mandela on education would seem wise. He once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

That’s great as I see the value in college. However, why is it that post college only 10% of people are in a career field in which they studied? The other 70% are working jobs and in careers they had absolutely nothing to do with. While the other 20% are unemployed. Do you know what’s boring? Unemployment is.

In terms of adversity, clearly since I can only use my story and no one else’s, I’ll briefly date back to my four years in college from 2011–2015. To begin, coming up on Thanksgiving of 2011, my grandmother (mom’s side) was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. To say the least when it comes to forms of cancer, pancreatic may be one of the worst. Moving into December and January 2012, I stayed back home with my family because she wasn’t doing too well, and I had to work to make some money. It wasn’t even 60 days after her diagnosis to where my grandmother passed away on Friday, January 13, 2012. It was one of the hardest family deaths to deal with. For 18 years that women devoted all of her time, weekends, energy and effort to witnessing and being apart of my growth.

Yes it was tough for me yet even more challenging for my mother and her sister who lived all the way out in Colorado with her family. Its hard for me to picture losing a parent because I’m so young but the harsh reality is that it’ll happen to all of us one day. Christopher Wallace once said, “I wonder if I died, would tears come to her eyes? Forgive me for my disrespect, forgive me for my lies.” Definitely feelings I had going through adverse times back then…

Not to start off on a sour note but that’s simply the challenges life throws at us from year to year. I persevered through the remaining years I had at W&J but it certainly wasn’t a lovely walk in Central Park. What perplexed my mind was people constantly telling me and others that this is the best time of our life — and how carefree college years can be. How the hell is four years out of a lifetime supposed to be the best time of our well spent years? Let’s think much higher level and long term here. College students rarely have any money, they’re stressed out all the time, and every semester students get to think about how much debt they’re going to have upon walking at graduation. How many people are going to get fired up and happy about that one?

Also in college, students exist in an in-between time when having a college degree is still necessary for many fields, but know that they’re spending four years and thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars on something that will be mostly irrelevant or changed in another decade. Riddle me that one.

With all of that being said, I still believe the pros of a college degree outweigh the negatives and bullshit we all have to go through for fours years in school, even more so when pursuing a masters or Ph.D. However, have a clear cut picture in your mind of what you want to pursue post graduation, work during your college days to pay off or down your tuition, room and board, and live a frugal life to keep expenses low. All in all, have a plan!

To graduate with $50,000, $100,000 or even $250,000 in student loan debt blows my mind. Do you realize that would normally take anywhere from ten plus years all the way up until your late 50’s or even 60’s to pay off over a hundred thousand dollars in debt, which is accumulating compounding interest and not working in your favor. Think smart here folks, not hard. I recognize society, our parents, and others programmed you to go to school, get good grades, and get a fancy corporate job. There’s more to life and other options in our new era today then ever before. Please recognize those opportunities created by the Internet.

Failure is the cost of seeking out new challenges. 90% of those who fail are not actually defeated; they merely quit. I had two (angels being my grandparents) wings and the words, “Don’t Ever Give Up” tattooed onto my back at 18 years of age for a definite reason. The expansion of those tattoos and many more will be added on in the years to come!

There are two kinds of people in regards to setbacks: splatters, who hit rock bottom, fall apart, and stay on the bottom; and bouncers, who hit rock bottom, pull themselves together, and bounce back up. Please, become a bouncer, just not one of those individuals at a night club!

Success lies in having made the effort; failure lies in never having tried at all. Most failures are people who have the habit of making excuses or complaining. Don’t let any of that negativity into your life. Carefully audit the circle of people you’re around and how their attitudes are. We’re looking for positive mental attitudes out of people, not negative mental attitudes.

If you want to succeed in life, you cannot give up. Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don’t look back at it too long. Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you. Your capacity for occasional blunders is inseparable from your capacity to reach your goals.

No one wins them all, and your failures, when they happen, are just part of your growth process. Shake off your blunders. How will you be aware of your limits without an occasional failure? Your turn and fortunes will come, with time.

Idea of the Day: There’s an entire industry built around self-help and the search for life’s purpose — but finding it may be virtually impossible. Many times these journeys are chasing a purple unicorn.

Instead, why don’t we simply figure out what we’re passionate about and try to do more of that. Whatever lights up a flame in your heart means it’s worth sticking to. The individuals in life who “love what they do” and are “successful” by societies eyes were able to get there by persevering when times got tough and challenging. The ones who didn’t love their careers quit when times were difficult. I’ve always loved Steve Jobs short video explaining his opinion and rules for success:

My goal every week in writing these blogs is to at least be able to impact one persons day, week, life or trajectory of their career(s). Please understand that adversity is a wonderful catalyst for learning throughout the course of our lives. It’s never going to be sunshine and rainbows 24/7. Expect adversity, prepare for challenges, persevere through the rough winters, but recognize the successful man or woman you’ll turn out to be on the other side.

Everyone has problems and will continue to whether you’re a billionaire entrepreneur, self-made millionaire, college professor, college student, husband, wife or parent. The size, magnitude and how that individual handles those problems nine times out of ten will give you a wonderful understanding of that persons skills and problem-solving abilities. They continuously hone their craft and love to learn. We all need more open-minded and voracious learners like that to block and tackle world issues.

Thank you once again for reading! Click that clap button, hold it down as many times as you’d like, comment or share if you appreciated what you read. Have a great day!

My Very Best,

Donovan Vogel

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Philadelphia based teaching financial literacy | Prospering all other hours | Writer | Lifter | Reader | Traveler | Freedom & Wellness

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