Eliminating all our problems won’t make our lives better; it’s in the struggle that we grow. Without problems, there’s no potential. Kites don’t rise with the wind but against it. In the Bible, the story of Jacob wrestling all night with an angel is such a picture of life; what you wrestle with and win over provides you strength.
Samson wrestled with a lion and killed it, went back several days later, and in the lion’s carcass, there was honey. He ate it, and it provided strength. Wrestling with adversaries pulls things out of us that will strengthen us.
In 1978, Bernie Marcus, the son of a poor Russian cabinet maker in Newark, New Jersey, was fired from Handyman, a do it yourself hardware retailer. That seeming failure moved him to team up with Arthur Blank to start their own business. In 1979 they opened their first store in Atlanta, Georgia. It was called The Home Depot. Today, The Home Depot has more than 760 stores, employing more than 157,000 people.
Adversity prompts innovation. In the early twentieth century, a boy whose family had immigrated from Sweden to Illinois sent twenty-five cents for a book on photography. Instead, they received a book on ventriloquism. What did he do? He learned the art of ventriloquism. His name was Edgar Bergen, and for forty years, he entertained audiences with the help of a wooden dummy named Charlie McCarthy.
Problems can and should produce potential if we see them, embrace them, and allow them to push us forward.