Today’s blog was written by Keith Martinez, whom I’ve had the privilege of getting to know through a program called STEP- Student Transfer Education Program. In high school, Keith went from living in an underprivileged environment on a Native American reservation in South Dakota to living with our family for two years, as well as being supported by other Scarsdale families participating in the STEP program. Keith came to us with SAT scores just above 600 and after going to a tutor every Sunday for two years, he boosted his score to over 1100 points. He earned a Presidential Scholarship to attend Villanova University and also received the Bill Gates Foundation Scholarship. With all that he’s been through, Keith wrote this blog today about adversity.
Think of the word adversity, what comes to mind? What do you picture? Who you think of?
How does adversity affect you?
Now read at the definition:
Adversity (noun): a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty or misfortune
Now think of the word advantage. Again, what comes to mind?
Now read its definition:
Advantage (noun): something (such as a good position or condition) that helps to make someone or something better or more likely to succeed than others
For most people these two words are complete opposites. Adversity can mean that every day of their lives is a constant struggle where it’s difficult to meet even their most basic needs, such as where their next meal will come from or how they will answer to bill collectors. Others may be facing a tragedy that has taken place in their live.
Advantage can mean that someone simply has a higher ground- maybe they won the “genetic lottery” to gain this advantage. But, almost no one wins the lottery, so it’s important to recognize that anyone can have an advantage. But, to get there, most people have to overcome adversity.
So what’s the secret? How do you turn adversity into your advantage?
It’s simple. Adversity in itself is the advantage. The difficult part is realizing what you can gain from it, so that you can position yourself to succeed. When you understand how your adversity separates you from the others, use it as a tool for that success.
What I mean by this is that having adversity makes you, “you;” it makes you unique. While it may seem easier to accept your situation and live day-to-day than it is to try and change your situation, I believe you’re better off using this as motivation to force change. People admire those who are proud of their adversity and use it as a motivator to change their situation.
I am not saying to shout out to the world “Hey, I can’t do this, I don’t have that, this happened to me,” etc. What I mean is for people to strategically evaluate themselves, their skills and situations then see where they want to be. Then, they should determine a plan and use the skills they have acquired and developed through their adversity to their advantage.
For me personally, when I utilized this process I realized that I am set up for success as long as I put in the work. My life has been changed in tremendous ways, and has set me up to be in a place of “advantage” in the near future.
This is something I believe everyone is capable of.