The one phrase I live my life by

Alex Booth
3 min readJan 29, 2021

How strength can be found from adversity

Photo by Christiaan Huynen on Unsplash

I subscribe to a certain motto. It is one that I developed many years ago. It would be nice to be able to share an inspirational story of its inception — however I couldn’t honestly pinpoint a specific point. It has evolved from my own life and the experiences I have faced.

Anyway, it has helped me a lot over the past few years. Indeed, in the scary world we live in, it’s a phrase I regularly tell the students that I teach.

I’d like to share it with you, too:

The strength of an individual is not measured in their ability to avoid difficulty. It is measured in how well they cope with difficulties when they present themselves.

Yes, I get that it’s the sort of phrase that you might see plastered on a mug, or hung on the kitchen wall.

I have found it to be a very powerful, and comforting, ally over the years.

Now, I am not arrogant enough to take sole credit for this mindset. A quick google search will throw up a host of similar quotes.

Take this one from Beethoven, for instance:

Here is the mark of a really admirable man: steadfastness in the face of trouble.

Regardless, I think it a powerful motto to subscribe to.

The importance of resilience.

In my life, I have seen a lot of people try to ‘outsource’ their problems. People who would rather shift the responsibility onto other people and situations, rather than attempt to face — and learn from — these challenges and failures themselves.

These are people who try to bend the world around them.

As someone who lives with a disability myself, I can appreciate why people would want to outsource their difficulties.

Dealing with chronic and daily pain, for instance, is a heavy burden to bear.

However, I am acutely aware of the danger of trying to avoid, rather than deal with, these challenges.

The short term relief of avoidance may be sweet, but the long term damage can exert a terrible toll.

Resilience from failure

I think it important to state that I am not saying for one second that we should submit passively to our difficulties.

If we took the mentality that there’s no point in fighting when faced with adversity, then the world would be a much worse place. Women, for instance, would still not have the right to vote. Racial segregation would still divide both the U.S. and South Africa.

If we take each of these cases, however, it becomes apparent that hardship hasn’t been avoided.

Rather, it has been met, head on. It has been shaped by hard fought contests. Some of these contests were won, many of them were lost.

Take individuals such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Emmeline Pankhurst. All acknowledged that life is difficult. All experienced extreme difficulties themselves.

All faced up to these difficulties. All did something about them.

These revolutionaries were shaped by how well they coped with difficulty. Indeed, their ultimate victories were built on a resilience forged in the fires of adversity.

Power from adversity.

The world is a big, solid obstacle. You may be able to dodge some issues life throws at you. Without sounding pessimistic, you’re fighting a losing battle, though.

In life, there are so many things out of our control. Even if you micro-manage your own existence to avoid mishap and difficulty, that won’t — and cannot — prevent difficulties befalling other people.

If you have lived your life wrapped in cotton wool, your ability to cope with hurt, pain and loss caused by others will be all the worse when adversity strikes.

So, when faced with an uncompromising world, what can we do?

We can acknowledge that true strength is found when difficulty presents itself. That it is hardened by our ability to cope, and rise above, the challenges we may face.

The next time you experience failure, or hardship, don’t look for the exit. Don’t try to escape from the challenge. Stand tall. Face it head on. Look for the strength that comes from adversity.



Alex Booth

Using educational insight and bad jokes to promote personal and professional development. Find out more at