adversity.jpgI work in multifamily real estate, university housing to be exact. Real estate, along with our entire economy, has fallen on pretty hard times.

We thought last year was bad; this year we are learning what bad really means. Enrollment cutbacks have hit us hard along with serious overbuilding in our core market. We are hoping that this is the nadir, that the following year will be better or at least no worse.

We are very aware that there are no guarantees in life and we must be prepared for the financial drought to continue rather than abate quickly. We are positioned to weather the storm. We believe our reserves to be sufficient and we have invested cautiously, even in the heady heydays. There will be some serious belt tightening, some rather draconian elimination of the nice, but not absolutely necessary, category. Expenses will be under exceedingly tight review and there will be few, if any, goodies to be passed around.

Some have expressed concern about the effect on morale of the future no longer being so bright and sunny. I reply that true champions are energized by challenges.

Challenges excite champions because they know that it is the problems, the crises, the tight moments, the valleys, that separate the best-—the champions-—from the wanna-bes.

Anyone can pass herself off as a winner in the good times, because a rising tide lifts all boats. The uninitiated, the novice, the naive, often mistake a bull market for brilliance. Everyone looks good when the sun is shining, the sea is smooth, and the wind fills your sails. It is when the sky is dark and foreboding and the ocean rough and heavy that champions have the opportunity to display their greatest skills.

Someone is supposed to have asked Michael Jordan if he was dreading a must-win game, an elimination game for a championship. If he tensed up when he had to take the game-winning shot, if it made him nervous when the entire game rested on his shoulders, do or die. Jordan reputedly answered to the effect, “You don’t understand. I live for those moments. It is for those moments I play the game.”

Spoken like a true champion.

A champion feels the same way about the tight moments in whatever his or her field of endeavor. It is then that your training, years of preparation and study, and hours of rehearsal take over. Life will bring us enough of these moments, there is no need to seek them out. But still, it is for these moments of testing, of trial, of opportunities to plum your depths, to try your mettle, to find out if you have true grit. It is for these moments you have prepared all your life.

Are you a true champion? Does adversity bring out the best in you? Or the worst?

Closing quotes:

“If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it around. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don’t embrace trouble; that’s as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience.” – Robert Fulghum

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” – African Proverb

“Let me embrace thee, sour adversity. For wise men say it is the wisest course…” – William Shakespeare, King Henry VI, Part 3