Born into extreme poverty and with failing eyesight at the tender age of five, one of the last things Ray could see was his brother George drowning in a washtub. Thereafter his sight began to deteriorate even more from glaucoma leaving him completely blind by the young age of seven. His mother would not let him dwell in self-pity and she would still make Ray do chores around the house and not allow the blindness to become an excuse and something to hide behind.
His mother became the subject of great derision by the neighbours who believed she was being far too tough on Ray. Then came the day that Ray was to be sent off to a special school for the deaf and blind and this was many miles away. Although he cried and pleaded with her, she ignored the protests and sent him away. For as heart breaking as this seemed, he was dispatched anyway, because his mother had been thinking about the longer term benefit.
Aretha Robinson had been preparing Ray for his future life.
What is holding you back
There is a process in nature called Hormesis. This is a biological phenomenon whereby a beneficial effect (such as improved health, stress tolerance, growth or longevity) results from exposure to low doses of an agent that is otherwise toxic or lethal when given at higher doses. This can be summed up succinctly by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s phrase, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.
An example of Hormesis is exercise. If you do weight lifting you can tear your muscles and they subsequently become stronger because gradual continued exercise will repair them.
You will recall from childhood that you were often told to eat your greens, right? This is because of all the wonderful vitamins and other antioxidants they contain, yes? Yes, but this is only partly true. You will also find small amounts of poisons in broccoli and other green vegetables and these create the somewhat bitter taste. It is in part these poisons that make your body stronger. Your body breaks them down and processes them; in so doing you become tougher.
You cannot use this insight as an excuse not to eat your greens. Greens are good for you.
With this analogy in mind, you can see that any obstacles you come across in your life that hold you back can be viewed as an opportunity to become stronger.
Obstacles – a chance to become your best
As you look back on your life you may recall times when things went wrong and didn’t go as well as expected. Undoubtedly at that time you would have wished these events had never happened and yet now as you reflect, you are likely not to change them. It would have been these difficult circumstances that caused you to grow and become the person you are today.
I am not suggesting that you go out and find obstacles as life will throw them at you anyway. Many years ago I heard this quote, “God do you not trust me, you have not sent any problems my way?” This really made me think …….who would want problems?
For example, would it be wise to start a business in a depression or when there was an economic crisis? Nobody would be in their right minds to start a business in these circumstances, or would they?
Just consider the following:
– The founder of the FedEx Delivery Company, Frederick Smith, started in 1973 at the time of the oil crisis when he saw how difficult it was to get packages and other airfreight delivered within one to two days.
– Without distributor’s cash, Walt Disney couldn’t cover his overheads and his studio went bankrupt in 1923. Disney then introduced a new character named Mickey Mouse in 1928.
– Fortune magazine overcame the market crash of 1929.
– During World War II Hewlett Packard developed products for military applications that were important enough to merit them a draft exemption.
– By the end of the World War II, Revlon listed itself as one of America’s top five cosmetic houses. The company started producing a new nail enamel in the midst of the 1931 Great Depression.
– The Depression Years were also a triumph of American ingenuity and hard work. Scientific and organisational advances expanded their capabilities and the potential output of the economy. This helped the US win World War II and set the stage for a quarter century of postwar prosperity.
– Microsoft began business during the recession of 1973-75.
Furthermore, you would think it crazy to start an online business during the post dot-com bubble of 2002 wouldn’t you? ………but LinkedIn did.
Isn’t it time to stop whining and do something?
Stop whining and change your world
With the richness of being human, all emotions are important. So if you need to, you can become angry, sad, cry, and even scream “why me?” Once you have it all out of your system start to do something. I appreciate this can be easier said than done.
Let’s explore how.
The first step is to define your own obstacle. Next find someone in the same position and help them overcome it.
– So if you are feeling depressed, find someone else who is depressed and help them through it.
– If you are not fit, help someone else become fit.
– If you are poor help someone become wealthy.
So you now have the idea and you’ll be amazed how the action of helping others helps you to overcome your own obstacles.
Everything lost, a great place to start
Grace started as a temporary secretary in the new firm in 1921. The company product was an idea brought back by Colonel Disney, a British army office working in the United States at the time.
Grace got to work straight away; no job was too small or too big. Bounding with energy, she made sure everyone who could possibly benefit from this product heard about it. Grace was so passionate about the product that she used it herself and a good thing she did too. It was on 30th December 1940 when she went to work as normal only to find the whole building destroyed in a Second World War bombing raid. Everything was destroyed and lost; this could be the end. Not so for Grace Scurr as she reached into her handbag and pulled out the product that she had re-named “Filofax” in 1925. This carefully contained all the company’s records she needed to resume business.
She was able to find new offices within days, but could not get a telephone line for 3 months. She overcame all these setbacks and the temporary secretary then went on to become the company chairperson. Grace retired in the 1950’s and today Filofax is a household name in business circles. When the company was floated on the stock exchange in 1987 it was worth £17 million. Grace was a remarkable woman and the original driving force behind the company.
What did Ray do with his life?
Ray Charles did not see much of his father growing up, and it is unclear whether his mother and father were ever married. Ray was mainly raised by his biological mother Aretha Robinson, as well as his father’s first wife, a woman named Mary Jane.
Despite all the upheaval of all those early family issues, and his disability, he went on to become a music legend. He never let blindness stop him from flying a plane, driving cars or riding bikes. Are you ready now to believe in yourself from the top of your head right down to the tips of your toes?
I would love to hear about the obstacles you have faced and overcome in your life. What were the valuable lessons you learnt that really made a difference to you and others? Please do share them to help inspire others to take action by posting them below.