Adversity + Perseverance = Success

Perseverance, Sports

As I sit and watch Super Bowl 50 in my living room, I can’t help but think about the amazing narrative on perseverance that Cam Newton has brought to the attention of all who watch him.

At first glance, his football story seems like the classic comeback narrative. He goes the University of Florida and makes a couple of mistakes, heads to junior college in Texas where he seems to reinvent himself, and then emerges as dominant as soon as he hits the scene at Auburn. Now five years later he finds himself at the Super Bowl 50 and the leagues MVP.

While I can sit here and rave about him, there is one quality that I can’t help but respect about him.  Perseverance!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1: 2-4

“Not only so, but we also glorify in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5

From the days of watching Michael Jordan… I was born in 1995 when he first retired… so from the days of hearing about Jordan and watching his old games, I always wondered how he was able to be so great. It seemed like every time he stepped on the court he knew he was going to score, and that is what he did. But what really blew me away is the fact that he made it look so easy. Watching him was like doing elementary math

Jordan + will to score/win = instant buckets/wins

But anyone who believes that it was that easy is foolish. Jordan had his fair share of setbacks. Most notably not making his high school varsity team. Who would have thought one of the best in the game suffered such a great setback.

The same can be said for Cam. This man went to the University of Florida where he found himself sitting behind the school’s best and most popular player, Tim Tebow. Tim was the Heisman winner at the time, so what was Cam supposed to say? “Put me in coach! Leave your Heisman winner on the bench.” Um… no. He never really got playing time and on top of that he got in trouble with the law.

In a situation where it seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, Cam found himself going even deeper into the tunnel before he could get out.

Lesson #1: Sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better

I guess Cam would call that deep part of the tunnel Blinn College. From the interviews I watched, Cam’s time at in Brenham, Texas was the most humbling of his career. It was there that he was able to revamp himself. He was reconstructing his identity and shedding the mistakes of his past.

I would say he did a pretty good job, because the next year he was at Auburn as the starting quarterback who led their team to a national title and was the Heisman winner.

With all of this being said, I think Cam showed tremendous perseverance. While things did not go his way earlier on in his career, he had the will power and the fight to turn it around. Michael Jordan did too.

Lesson #2: If you don’t like where you are, what you’re doing, etc., you have the power to change it!

I’m sure you could ask every person that you consider to be successful their story on how they got to where they are now, and there will be at least one if not many examples of adversity that they had to overcome to become the successful people they are today.

Lesson #3: Change takes time.

Cam didn’t go from nobody to somebody overnight, and neither did Jordan. Think about it, Jordan was cut from his high school team, and is most known for his performance in the NBA. Think about all the time that had passed in between those two parts of his life. On the other had, Cam had to spend a year in the middle of nowhere (sorry if you’re from Brenham, Texas) getting better to be the player he was at Auburn.

What I’m trying to say is that many of the greats that I admire experienced setbacks that did not break them, and for that they were and are successful. Micheal Jordan once said, “… I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeeded.”

Lesson #4: Have a vision.

As long as you have a vision of where you are going and where you want to be, if you hold that vision close to you for long enough, that is exactly where you will go. Think, speak, and write your success into existence and watch yourself slowly move towards your goals. It has worked for the most successful people in the world, and I’m sure it can work for you.