Adversity Has a Dual Nature: It can Either Make Us or Break Us

Dr. Buddhi Malla

One of the great leaders ever, Napoleon Bonaparte, eloquently said: ‘The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.’ This quote suggests that before bravery and valor come into play, a soldier must possess the ability to endure physical and mental fatigue, hardships, and challenges. Essentially, it underscores the idea that enduring difficult conditions and maintaining one’s strength and determination are foundational qualities that enable acts of courage and heroism. This moral highlights the significance of endurance as a fundamental precursor to other virtues like courage.

One day, as the sun cast its warm glow upon them, the first stone spoke with a tone of sadness, addressing the other stones around. “Do you know,” it began, “we are from the same family, hewn from the same mine factory. Yet, people pass by me without a second thought, walk over me, and even spit on me. But you, my friends, they worship you. They bow their heads in reverence, offering flowers and prayers. Why is there such discrimination among us, born from the same earth?”

The second stone, standing tall and weathered but with an air of wisdom, replied, “Ah, my dear sibling, let me tell you a story. Once, long ago, they took both of us to create a statue. But I suppose I was blessed with patience, or perhaps cursed with stubbornness. When they began to shape me, it was not easy. The hammers hit hard, and it hurt. It was an agony I cannot fully describe, but I endured it. I didn’t give up, even when it seemed impossible.”

The first stone listened intently, its curiosity piqued.

The second stone continued, “You see, when they hit me with those hammers, I thought of the grand purpose that lay ahead. I endured the pain and allowed the sculptor’s chisel to shape me into something beautiful. And it was not in vain, for eventually, I became a god—a symbol of strength and endurance. People come to me because they see in me the power to withstand, the resilience to endure.”

The first stone, though still saddened by the discrimination it faced, began to understand the deeper meaning behind its companion’s words. It realized that sometimes, in enduring hardship and persevering through challenges, one could transform into something greater, something that inspired awe and respect.

As time passed, the first stone started to find solace in the idea that perhaps, one day, it too might be recognized for its own unique qualities. And though it hadn’t been shaped into a god, it could still be a symbol of something valuable—an enduring reminder that even in the face of discrimination and adversity, one could find strength and purpose, just like its wise companion.

The moral of the story is that endurance and resilience in the face of adversity can lead to transformation and greatness. It teaches us that it’s not our origins or circumstances that define us but our ability to endure and persevere through challenges that can ultimately shape our destiny and earn us respect and recognition.

Elon Musk, the visionary entrepreneur and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla and richest person in the world has faced numerous challenges and setbacks in his quest to revolutionize space travel and sustainable energy. From facing bankruptcy to multiple rocket failures, Musk’s unwavering determination and resilience have allowed him to overcome adversity, persist in his ambitious goals, and achieve remarkable success. Similarly, The legendary actor in the Indian film industry, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, faced rejection and failures early in his career. Despite these setbacks, he persevered with dedication and resilience, ultimately becoming one of the most iconic and respected actors in Bollywood. His enduring career spans decades, showcasing his ability to adapt and thrive in a highly competitive industry.

Adding to this, BP Koirala, a prominent Nepali politician and writer, endured significant personal sacrifices and challenges in his pursuit of democracy and social justice. He faced imprisonment and exile during Nepal’s political turmoil but remained steadfast in his commitment to democratic ideals. His resilience and leadership played a crucial role in shaping Nepal’s political landscape. In each of these cases, endurance and resilience were key factors that enabled these individuals to overcome adversity, achieve their goals, and leave a lasting impact on their respective fields.

On the era preceding digitalization, photographs were captured using film negatives and developed in a darkroom. The negative had to undergo numerous challenges to transform into a photograph. However, once it became a photograph, it garnered widespread praise.”

This statement conveys a valuable moral lesson about the journey of transformation and the recognition that follows. It can be interpreted as an allegory for personal growth and development. Just as a negative undergoes a challenging process to become a beautiful photograph, individuals often face obstacles and difficulties in their own lives before achieving success or recognition. The statement encourages us to appreciate the effort and struggles that people endure on their path to success, as well as the importance of recognizing and celebrating their achievements once they’ve overcome those challenges. It serves as a reminder to value the journey and the perseverance it takes to reach one’s goals, rather than solely focusing on the end result.

Adversity has a dual nature: it can either make us or break us. It serves as a crucible, testing our resilience and character. While it can shatter our spirit, it can also strengthen our resolve. The outcome depends on how we choose to respond to life’s challenges and setbacks. Adversity can be a catalyst for growth, pushing us to rise above our limitations, or it can overwhelm us if we let it. In the end, it’s our resilience and determination that determine whether we emerge from adversity stronger or more fragile.


(Author Dr. Malla is a Banker.)