A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

― Winston S. Churchill

imagesThere seems to be a pervasive attitude that difficult things should be avoided and any difficulty is treated as an approximation to failure. I have had this theme play out repeatedly this week where something difficult is ta  ken as tantamount to failing. For someone looking to grow, and excel, difficult work is the chance to improve through stringent testing. Difficulty should stir one to the core and call them forward toward achievement. The worst thing is the inability to see the opportunity being granted, most of our best, strongest attributes were forged in our most difficult moments.

There is no failure except in no longer trying.

― Elbert Hubbard

Of course, the prevailing culture today does little to help. The lack of faith in humanity exhibited by the implied lack of trust rewards the overly cautious with stability and comfort. We have gotten into a habit where the mediocre status quo is greeted as success. People are rewarded for not rocking the boat, not being critical and most of all not raising difficult issues. We are taught to get alone, kick the can down the road and not make waves. This approach will only assure that we as a nation become a monument to delusional success when we have become distinctly milquetoast.

images-1Problems are seen when work that should have done years ago is missing. Instead it is the opportunity to do meaningful, interesting and important work that fills in an essential gap. In another case a procedure was found to be lacking, which turned out to be embarrassing. Instead it is a reward of due diligence and points toward a higher future standard, but also toward important shortcomings in tools used. These tools will require substantial effort to make better. We see to have created a system that tells us that these cases should be avoided. Instead they need to be celebrated as opportunities for interesting and necessary work that will stretch the capabilities of the lucky people doing the work.

Our most significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty.

― Thomas S. Monson

UnknownThis is quite sharply related to the absolute intolerance for anything that could be interpreted as failure. Failure brings the possibility of rebuke and scandal. The lessons of almost every success has been lost in the process, to achieve greatness, risk must be taken, and risk entails the possibility of failure. We are avoiding short-term pain and the cost of long-term success, which will manifest itself as a decline toward inevitable mediocrity.

What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise

― Oscar Wilde