Adversity: The Greatness Challenge

Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.

~ William Arthur Ward

Adversity: The Greatness Challenge

By Don Yaeger

Adversity is one of the most potent forces in life, one that can bring out your best or your worse. Ultimately, it’s up to you. How will you handle obstacles? Will they be roadblocks or springboards?

Consider this unlikely ascent to Greatness: In 1922, when Ernest Hemingway was still struggling to get published, a suitcase containing almost all of his drafts and manuscripts was lost on a train. Left with only two stories out of all his efforts, Hemingway was crushed. But upon the advice of his good friend and already-established author Ezra Pound, he re-created all he could of what had been lost, and in so doing established one of his stylistic trademarks – bare-bones language and a simple, journalistic tone.

Rather than throwing in the towel when he was faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, and thus robbing the twentieth century of one of its most important literary voices, Hemingway listened to Pound’s encouragement and used the devastating situation as something to make his work stronger (p. 108).

From: Yaeger, D. (2011). Greatness: the 16 characteristics of true champions. New York: Center Street.

Reprinted with permission from the OSU Leadership Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 292-3114,

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Coaching Call to Action

How do you handle adversity or obstacles? How have you turned challenges into springboards? Tell your story in the comments below!