I just viewed the most inspiring video I think I’ve ever seen. It was a story of a dad whose son was born with the cord around his neck. The baby wasn’t given much of a chance to live any sort of normal life and the doctors all recommended that he be put away in an institution because they said there was nothing going on in his brain. Yet, when the dad didn’t believe it and they took the baby home to live.

The video showed the boy in his wheelchair through the years with other kids holding a hockey stick, or hanging out with other kids with the intention of having the most normal life as possible. When the boy was able to type on a computer, he told his dad how alive he felt when doing sports. That was the motivation that the dad, a self proclaimed couch potato needed, and he started competing in running events, triathlons and marathons, all while carrying his physically impaired child in a raft while swimming, on the bike handlebars or pushing a stroller while running. They’ve now competed in hundreds of races and beat ¾ of the field, even in spite of the fact that the dad is carrying the son. The story and video are so touching that its’ hard to get through it without crying but it’s so inspiring and it makes you realize that the challenges in life are meant to bring out the best in each of us. It was a video that shared one man’s strength and determination to overcome the odds. To experience and see the love that this father has for his son is awe inspiring, because you can see and feel pain of struggle so much that it creates empathy, respect and reverence when viewing this man and his son who have triumphed over adversity and beat the impossible odds.

When we finally “get” that challenges and frustrations in life are meant to grow us, and to prepare us for bigger and better opportunities. Our microwave society which thrives on immediate gratification, has become disposable. We dispose of diapers, old people, live babies and dead marriages. When we’ve had enough, we ignore it or eliminate it. There is an acceptance of if it gets hard, then get rid of it, instead of the old motto, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. We’re becoming weak and pursuing happiness instead of strength and character. People aren’t getting there however, because it takes growing strength and character to grow in inner happiness and strength. So many people keep searching for the perfect relationship, the perfect outfit, the perfect house, the perfect kids, and end up living in a battle of anxiety and depression, because they’re seeking something that isn’t going to appear without going through the process of growing up.

Our world has never been more connected than it is today. We can reach out to people within seconds from around the world. We can view images of their life on line 24/7 and view movies, documentaries and view cams that show us graphic and intimate moments. Yet, millions of people, sit isolated and alone in their living rooms, watching others on TV, and have no idea whatsoever of how to break the ice with their neighbor, or get over the petty relationship issues that cause friction or frustration.

We’ve given up the words, “I’m sorry” because we know that we can develop a new relationship with someone on line tomorrow, probably with another lonely and isolated individual.

In my work of coaching individuals, we work on building real connections with others. We work together to create a plan to engage with others, and to communicate with others. I challenge my clients to pursue real and authentic conversations with their work associates. We create opportunities for them to mentor, coach and help others in their sphere of influence. We also look at the challenges we face in our lives and create a plan of action to manage the problem. By naming and owning the challenge, it gives us a goal to work towards. By not acknowledging the issue, it can continue to challenge and control us, but by owning up to it, it gives the permission to view it optimistically.

One such client had the goal of growing into a leader in her company. She had been with the company for 10 years and had some success, yet she showed up as a church mouse at work. She showed up, but didn’t participate fully in meetings. She let others do the talking and the planning, even though she had many ideas that were valuable and that could have helped the organization. Little by little, with a little planning, a little encouragement and quite a bit of coaching, she took little steps towards over coming her fear of emerging as a leader. Her peers viewed her as a librarian; resourceful and useful but not powerful. My client’s goal was to become a powerful leader.

Moving in that direction challenged her to face her fear of making difficult decisions, standing and speaking in public, mentoring others and correcting others when needed. We started with the basics, just connecting with those in her immediate work space. Then she looked forward towards mentors and instead of just taking mentoring from them, she started bringing value to them. She started showing up to key meetings with something to say, even if it was just a motivational quote to share with the group.

It hasn’t been easy, but my client is now about to start leading important meetings with several groups and as the facilitator I’ve challenged her to show up as the visionary, and the motivator. She now has a plan to do that and is practicing behind the scenes.

Whatever the challenge that faces you in your life, name it. Give it a place in your life. Then get to work. Understand that its going to take a plan. It’s going to take knowing where you want to go, and constant energy, effort and work to get there. More than likely, you’ll need mentors, coaches, books, tapes and even failures to get to where you’re going. You’ll stumble along the way, but you won’t fall if you know where you’re going. Keep that vision in your mind and get up every day with excited anticipation about getting one step closer to getting there.

Overcoming the challenges that life throws at you will either make you crumble or make you strong. If life has given you a life or death challenge like the father in the video, or a work challenge like my client, we can build our inner strength one day at a time. In the beginning, many days seem like complete failures because there is so much to learn and do that it can be overwhelming and make us feel hopeless. But many days of failure turn into more days of learning and stretching and conquering. Eventually, over time, our bodies and minds learn what we wanted to teach it, and we become who we had in mind.

Life is a series of ups and downs, challenges and triumphs. It’s path of getting there that we can celebrate because then as we grow in experience, we grow in our success.