“Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like a toad ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in its head;”
William Shakespeare, through the mouth of Duke Senior, in his famous play, As You likes It, Act 2 Scene 1.
Yes, you are right!……the same old words. Your eyes and ears must have passed these words several times in your career, although William Shakespeare wrote them way back in 1599, and not until 1623 did it make its public debut. Some of us have even read it as part of our English curriculum in School. Two days back, when the very same words, crossed my eyes, for the umpteenth time though, in a newspaper column, it forced me to rethink its meaning in new light. Turbulent times, if endured are definitely the gateway to success.
World renowned American Author and Motivational Speaker, Og Mandino, once said, “Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes after many struggles and countless defeats.” There was a phase in my surgical career, wherein every Suprapubic Prostatectomy, i.e. Surgery to remove enlarged Prostate Gland , that I did was ending up with bleeding and eventually getting re-opened. It was just not happening for me. I wasn’t sure whether it was wrong technique that was causing this or poor assisting by my surgical assistants or a combination of both. Slowly a sense of fear crept in and it forced me to avoid doing Prostatectomies anymore.
I could not sleep at night because doubts about ability and technique crept in pretty quickly. I called my Boss, to watch over me while I operate in order to catch any wrong steps, but alas! None existed. It led us to go back to our books and resources on the net and after exhaustive reading we made some procedural changes. Its been 4 years since that epochal day and not a single Prostatectomy patient has bled. Those procedural changes have become very popular among many surgery specialists. Had my patients not bled a better procedure would never have evolved.
The other day watching an interview of World famous, Skier and Olympic Gold Medalist, Jean-Claude Kelly nailed the idea completely. While skiing, some of the most treacherous runs on Earth, something remarkable happened with him. Out of the razor’s edge, where he felt his greatest discomfort wherein his limiting beliefs started to scream through his brains and tell him that he would never make it down, it was at that opportune moment that he felt the most alive.
He said, “The fear you move through when you go to the edge of your limits actually causes your limits to expand.” This is true not only of Skiing but life as well. That expansion leads to not only better work but greater performance. As Nietzsche said: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Most people hide in their shells when the going gets rough. They retreat into their bunkers. They push away anything that’s pulls them the least bit out of their comfort zone. And sadly, in so doing, they push away their chances for growth, mastery and lasting achievements. The brave don’t run. The brave eat their fear before their fear eats them.
If that’s not enough, deep change is a purifier of sorts. Yes, it can tear down the very foundations on which your thinking and way of operating have been built. But just maybe those old foundations need to come down to create space for even better ones to be installed. And during the transition process that lies between the old structures coming down and the new ones being put up in place, it’s a real stress filled, uncertain time. But just maybe it’s like the transition of the Caterpillar morphing into the Butterfly. It looks like a mess but something beautiful is being created. As Novelist Richard Bach, once famously said, “What the Caterpillar calls the end of the World, the Master calls the Butterfly.”
Author’s Bio: Dr. Anupam Dey is a General Surgeon in a Mission Hospital at BISSAMCUTTACK, ODISHA. He is a thinker and a thought provoking writer.