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Our Wounds are Our Assets

Pain contains the potential for greater success.

Our Wounds are Our Assets

Before my journey into social media, I thought of online interaction as superficial or at best very distant. However, I found that caring relationships can develop and grow. I also found that deep insights can emerge from often frivolous discussion.

One example of relationship and insight came from an exchange with a Twitter friend who had been ill for a few weeks. A number of people, including myself, wished him good health. He responded to my Tweet with the following powerful comment:

 “As difficult as it is to believe, my hardships have prepared me well for all the outstanding days of my life.”

As I read his Tweets, his warmth and consideration are obvious, and his comment led me to think of a short portion of my book, dealing with how one copes with adversity. I have included it below:

[T]imes of crisis often provide opportunities for introspection and recognition of areas for growth.

It is all in how one looks at crisis. In the midst of financial collapse or major life changes, it is hard to welcome an opportunity for change. However, devastating events offer opportunities to reinvent or rediscover ourselves. Realizing that it is possible to turn devastation into abundance unlocks a door for new and sometimes better possibilities.

In his powerful book Mastery, George Leonard (1992) discusses his efforts to master the martial art of Aikido in which partners attempt to gain energy from aggressive physical force directed at them. They use this energy to deflect attacks and control the attackers. Leonard refers to this process as “gaining energy from unexpected blows,” and suggests using it as a practice in daily living. To think of turning setbacks or misfortunes into this type of energy is a liberating idea.

As difficult as it may seem, it is helpful to look at unexpected disappointments and misfortune as forces that can provide impetus for meaningful work and greater satisfaction. Using this idea, the goal is to determine at what point one could experience gratitude for disappointments and painful experiences, and until then, remain open to the possibility that crisis can hold the seeds of opportunity.

All of us are aware of examples of this occurrence. Candy Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Pamela Rowse (Bach, 2010), who is working to eliminate Shaken Baby Syndrome, turned suffering and losses of family members into efforts to protect others. Walt Disney turned a life that began with child abuse and financial calamity into a financial and cultural empire (Castro, 2005).

Julio Olalla (2005) said, “Our wounds are our assets.” He suggested using painful experiences to focus on passion and to fashion the kind of life that is most desirable. None of us wants to experience the kind of loss that can lead to these circumstances, but it is important to realize that loss of any kind has that potential. Embracing life events, difficult situations, and sometimes self-defeating attitudes as stepping-stones to improvement helps to overcome them.

Understanding and dealing with these barriers to change helps to overcome them and helps one to be the best leader, spouse or friend one can be. The important question is: How?

It is apparent to me that my friend has embraced this comment.

What are your assets? How are you using them to make your life or someone else’s life better?

Excerpt from Connect: Affective Leadership℠ for Effective Results.

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  • Bach, L. K. (2010, October 15). Shaken baby syndrome: Grandmother turns pain into action. Retrieved October 15, 2010, from Las Vegas Review:
  • Castro, D. (2005). Critical choices that change lives: How heroes turn tragedy into triumph. Austin, TX: Beartooth Press.
  • Leonard, G. (1992). Mastery: The keys to success and long-term fulfillment. New York: Plume.
  • Olalla. (2005). From knowledge to wisdom. Reston, Virginia: Newfield Network.


Comments (6)

  1. Dan

    Hi Lyn — For me, the rough spots have always been teachers. That said, I don’t think we can gauge how rough the spot might be. We may learn things, but to learn them at depth means sustaining sometimes big buckets of pain. This opens doors to spiritual awareness, but often not easily. I am reminded of the awesome Parker Palmer’s story of his own periods of depression — how in a facile way people suggested he “buck up,” when the truth of his depression required him to access a more profound kind of learning. The best help came from a friend who said little, but simply bathed his feet. Putting aside any obvious religious reference, the attitude of that help seems right to me — being with, being there, being present for someone else in pain is the way to help the process unfold. And, that too of course is a way to support oneself. Not to run from these most difficult lessons; not to try to talk ourselves into false optimism or make them seem easier than they are, but simply to be with them, as a friend to ourselves, someone willing to say little but convey much as support and guidance toward the ultimate outcome.

    Best to you, and many good wishes for the coming year.

    1. Lyn Boyer

      The idea that possibilities lie in adversity is very intriguing to me. It seems to be a cliche, but I have found it so true. I think the important part is the attitude…the willingness to look inside oneself, get paste the pain to the extent possible, and look for the possibilities. Most often, we don’t see them until we look back. If we can begin to look back more quickly, maybe that helps to ease the suffering.
      I like what you said about being with, being there, being present for someone else in pain. That is all that really seems to help.
      Thank you for taking the time to respond and for the New Year’s wishes. My very best to you.

  2. Robert Tanner


    Great article! Life does bring difficult challenges to everyone and some of them can really “take us for a loop.” Hopefully, we only get a few of those in our lifetime! :-) It’s not the challenges and the wounds that determine our outcome, however. It’s our perspective about what we’re facing. I am a firm believer that we can always find a valuable lesson to take from any adversity. We can always make lemonade out of lemons with the right attitude! Wishing you and your family a good holiday!



    1. Lyn Boyer

      Robert, Thank you for your very thought-provoking response AND for the holiday wishes. I share those for you and your family. Have a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Lyn

  3. Felix Nater

    Lyn, I read the Blog and will buy the book. Your perspectives accommodate analogies that are essential to good character building experiences. People think it’s easier to wallow in their misery when in reality they make it difficult for others who may not want to be a part of it. So, instead of finding yourself in a unique situation use it as a learning intersection of life. You make the point so clearly, we have choices to make a difference or be made a statistic. I think You’re suggesting the situation isn’t unique but that we’re unique. Thank you, Lyn for making a difference.

    1. Lyn Boyer

      Felix, I have enjoyed reading your Tweets and interacting with you. I am glad you enjoyed reading the blog. I look forward to learning more from you. Thanks for your comment about making a difference. That is my goal. Lyn

Comments are closed.