Manvotional: Difficulties

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 23, 2009 · 10 comments

in A Man's Life, Manvotionals


We all face difficulties in our lives. Some big, some small. When I look at the lives of great men who overcame great obstacles, one common thread between them is the attitude they took towards the challenge. They didn’t mope around and let whatever happen happen. The ones who conquered their difficulties took action and persevered. Sometimes they failed, but at least they “failed while daring greatly.”

Below is an excerpt from a book published in 1866 called Readings for Young Men, Merchants, and Men of Business. It’s entitled “Difficulties.” I thought it was motivating and maybe you’ll find it helpful, too.

It is weak to be scared at difficulties, seeing that they generally diminish as they are approached, and oftentimes even entirely vanish. No man can tell what he can do until he tries. It is impossible to calculate the extent of human powers; it can only be ascertained by experiment. What has been accomplished by parties and by solitary individuals in the tundra and the frozen regions, under circumstances the most difficult and appalling, should teach us that, when we ought to attempt, we should not despair.

The reason why men oftener succeed in overcoming uncommon difficulties than ordinary ones, is, that in the first case they call into action the whole of their resources, and that in the last they act upon calculation, and generally under-calculate. Where there is no retreat, and the whole energy is forward, the chances are in favor of success, but a backward look is full of danger.

Confidence of success, is almost success; and obstacles often fall of themselves before a determination to overcome them. There is something in resolution which has an influence beyond itself, and it marches on like a mighty lord amongst its slaves; all is prostration where it appears. When bent on good, it is almost the noblest attribute of man; when on evil, the most dangerous. It is by habitual resolution that men succeed to any great extent; impulses are not sufficient. What is done at one moment is undone the next; and a step forward is nothing gained unless it is followed up.

“What is difficulty?” says a popular author. “Only a word indicating the degree of strength requisite for accomplishing particular objects; a mere notice of the necessity for exertion; a bugbear to children and fools; only a mere stimulus to a man!”

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leif August 23, 2009 at 1:58 am

Nice article. From how I interpret the article, consistency (by thought or taking action after action) to achieving a goal is the key

2 Khürt Williams August 23, 2009 at 6:55 am

From the alma mater of a private school I attended: Ne Timeas; meaning “Be not afraid”.

3 Hey August 23, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Shorter version: don’t have self-limiting beliefs, better to err on the side of overconfidence.

4 peter August 23, 2009 at 1:13 pm

i like the article, especially the part about how we tend to overcome seemingly insurmountable tasks because we will not accept defeat, but that we oftentimes fail when confronted with a lesser obstacle.

5 Michael August 23, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Good inspiration on how we overcome adversity, almost without thinking about it. I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of adversity in life: there are people who see it as obstacles to life, and others (like me) who see it as an important part of life: how you respond to the “bad” things helps define the quality of your entire life.

Heavy thinking for a Sunday, I know…

6 Will August 23, 2009 at 7:27 pm

I’ll have to think well on this one; I’m hoping I can make good use of it. Thanks, Brett!

7 Alex Chebykin August 24, 2009 at 1:01 am

I like this one. Somewhere along my short life I picked up on adage that half of success lies in your belief in it, which breeds confidence. This article could not be more truthful.

8 Jared August 24, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Great post.

A quote that sums that up is “persist UNTIL you succeed.” Most people forget the “persist” part (which I don’t quite understand – although it might make sense to some).

9 The Genuine Men Project August 25, 2009 at 11:40 am

You have summed up the message of The Genuine Men Project. Simple, yet powerful: it is how a man meets his challenges and carries his experiences that makes him a positive male role model. We can all learn from the stories of men.

10 Sir Lancelot August 25, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Sometimes the most difficult thing is telling apart genuine mentors from know-alls on ego trips or with personal agendas.

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