Every person should have the opportunity to overcome incredible difficulty at some point in life. I’m talking about something that comes so close to breaking you, a challenge that seems truly insurmountable.
Of course, life is full of things that seem impossible — until you find a way to do them. If you’re fortunate, you’ll find out what it’s like to have such an accomplishment.
For me, that challenge has been dyslexia. When I was young, reading and writing seemed impossible. Learning to compensate for my difficulties has been one of the most agonizing struggles I’ve ever faced. Clearing that hurdle, on the other hand, has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.
This isn’t just because I eventually learned how to consume and use language functionally. It’s also because I learned to love words in ways that probably seem unnatural to other people (my wife, for instance).
But I also learned to love something else: the sense of triumph at overcoming. I developed more than just the confidence that so much was possible; I developed a love for facing challenges. Not only do I rarely feel things are hopeless–I also feel I can do something about things that go wrong.
As another trip around the sun is set to start, I hope this is an experience I get to keep having, and one I hope you do as well.
Update: Dyslexia is a lot more common than most people think, especially when it comes to high achievers. Click here to read a bit more on folks like David Boies, Richard Branson, Carol Greider, John Irving, Charles Schwab, Steven Spielberg and (the guy whose success helps me make a living) Ingvar Kamprad.