This Month’s Message: Challenges Help Us Grow

We read:

“If there are no difficulties, the mind cannot be truly set.”

The Life of Oyasama, p. 229

Children flying kites used to be a common sight during the New Year’s season in Japan. On beaches and in other open spaces, children would fly their kites, competing to get their kites flying the highest. If they run with the wind behind them, their kites do not fly very high. Tailwinds are not conducive to flying a kite. Headwinds are better. If children run against the wind, their kites can fly high in the sky as the headwind provides the necessary buoyancy.

Something similar applies to various projects we undertake.

Everything going according to plan makes things convenient and easy, but the outcome may not be astonishing. After all, going according to plan suggests that the end result is likely to be as good as intended or expected—rather than extremely surprising or amazing.

Now imagine an opposite situation in which our project is beset with problems from the outset. Some of the necessary materials for the project turn out not to be available, significant differences of opinion emerge within the project team, and there is little understanding from others. Eventually, we end up alone. Despite all this, however, we continue working on the project. Then at a certain point, a new idea pops up. We start trying to find ways to turn the idea into something feasible. As we continue this effort, others begin to think that we may be on to something. Some of them start to cooperate with us, making it possible to draw on more diverse experience and expertise. Things start to improve. A stroke of good luck also plays a part in getting things going. Eventually our business begins to grow rapidly. Isn’t this a typical way in which a breakthrough is achieved?

Facing difficulties can help us improve. As in kite-flying, headwinds are conducive to us flying high.

When we are driven into a tight corner, we may crouch down to prepare for our next leap forward. Crouching generates and stores energy for the jump as our muscles work like springs. The more our body is lowered, the more energy is stored and the greater our ability is to break out of our comfort zone and achieve greatness. Challenges help us grow.


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