Happy day to you. This is Ken Kaufman, and I’m thrilled you’re here for episode number 70, “Adversity Reveals.” James Lane Allen gave this famous quote that is quoted often, and I think we’ve heard it a lot now in the year 2020, and it is, “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” I believe this to be true. I think it reveals a lot. 2020 has been a very challenging year on all fronts. I’ve felt it very personally, my family has felt it very personally in terms of health, in terms of economic impact, and mental health, and in so many other ways. And I feel like adversity, it does reveal character, and underneath that, it reveals our strengths, it reveals our weaknesses, it reveals the state of our mental health. I know those that struggle with anxiety, you know, the adversity has really caused some challenges for them, and they’re true, they’re legitimate. There’s true chemical imbalances that get fired up that, you know, have to be looked at and seriously addressed, and depression, and other things related to mental health.
So, this adversity, not only can it reveal character, but it can also pull out these mental health, or even physical health, challenges or issues that may not really be your true character, but they can taint your character, or perhaps hide or conceal, or cause you to be somewhat different than who you really are deep down inside. So, it’s been fascinating with the challenges in 2020. And who knows if they’re behind us or if there’s still a whole lot more ahead of us. There’s a lot of uncertainty, and obviously the uncertainty is part of even what drives some of the mental health challenges and issues.
I think, at the end of the day, adversity really reveals who you are as a leader, your patience. It’s really, like, all the way deep down who you are inside, what do you think of others, do you care about other people or do you view them as objects. I mean, there’s so many veins I could go down and try to discuss. I’m not gonna try to cover the breadth and depth of all the things that adversity eventually could reveal. And I’m going a little bit different on this episode than I normally do because I’m talking about things that are really non-financial, but I do have a tie-in at the end, so kinda hang with me and follow me on this.
The real question is, is, you know, what is your character, whether or not adversity reveals it or not? Well, hopefully it would. And what is your character, like who are you deep down inside? And when this adversity came, what did you learn about yourself as a result of the challenges of 2020? And what did you learn about the other people around you, your family, your co-workers? If you’re in a leadership role in your family, what did you learn about how to help your family members, and what some of their challenges are, and how to help them overcome them? In the workplace, what did you learn, and what did adversity reveal, and how did that help you maybe help your co-workers or those you lead? And then, maybe even think about how they could contribute in different ways to the organization because of what you learned. And at the end of the day, what do you wanna try and improve and change about yourself from everything that you learned during this?
Now, when I get to the concept of net worth…this whole podcast is about building and developing net worth. I don’t talk a lot about the fact that financial net worth is absolutely meaningless if you’re not who you wanna be, if you’re not comfortable in your own skin, if you don’t feel like you’re progressing and developing into who you’re designed to be. And it’s so important because the financial net worth becomes so meaningless, it just loses its value, it loses its luster if you’re not who you know you should be on the inside. So, there’s a couple of things here.
The first one is, is pursuing the financial net worth, we cannot allow that to ruin us, and ruin our character, and ruin who we know we should be. The pursuit of this, you know, financial net worth in the instance… Well, what I should say is, is our pursuit to gain that worth should probably present quite a bit of adversity. And as we allow that adversity to reveal who we are and give us opportunities to change, and improve, and get better, they can actually be quite symbiotic or synergistic. But at the end of the day, whatever that pursuit is, it should be helping you become more of who you need to be on the inside so that when adversity does come, you’re pleased with what’s there and you’re pleased with how you can react to things, and how you can manage through things, and how you can help other people around you when that happens.
So, this is the true non-financial measurement of net worth. And if you remember, assets minus liabilities, that equals your net worth. So, the non-financial measurement of your individual, your personal, your character level net worth is what are all the assets and the things you’ve done in the positive minus the challenges that you have, and the weaknesses, and what you might call liabilities. And at the end of the day, even if… You know, none of us are perfect, we all have challenges and struggles, and by no means am I saying that anybody should be, you know, fantastic.
This is about direction. This is about are you getting your assets going up and are you doing what you can to try to mitigate the liabilities that you have so that you can look at yourself, and measure yourself, and say, “I’m moving forward. I’m progressing. I’m getting better. I’m using whatever life throws at me to figure out how can I improve and how can I get better.” And then, this financial net worth is just a tool to you that will give you resources to help you do just that, which is improve these non-financial assets that you have, and to grow, and develop, and to mitigate or reduce any liabilities that you have, because you want to become who you’re designed to become.
So, that’s why I say they’re so synergistic, because the development of financial net worth can provide a lot of adversity and challenge that you need to overcome and gives you opportunities to learn and improve yourself individually and personally. And then, those resources can help us and help you take care of yourself in the right ways, get the medical attention that you need, and do everything that you can to just keep improving and keep being who you’re designed to be. And, obviously, that’s something you’ve gotta decide. And financial net worth is just a means to an end. Money is a means to an end. Ultimately, it’s who you decide to become and what your character is.
As I’m just getting ready to wrap up here, I’m reminded of a quote. It was a few years…I think it was maybe even one or two years before Stephen Covey passed away. And, of course, he wrote the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and dozens of other books, and just a phenomenal leader and a phenomenal individual in his own, right. And when he was speaking, clearly, age had started to take over, the effects of old age, and he was struggling from a health perspective in many respects. And yet, he stood in front of the audience and explained to them all of the projects he was working on.
He was co-authoring multiple books with…I can’t remember who they were at this point in time, but all names of famous people, well-known in business, and religious, and every other circle where he had built bridges and they were working on ideas and working on building out books together. He talked about all the projects and all the different things he was working on. And then, he had this moment where he kinda stopped, and he realized the point that he was trying to make, and he said, “My point is, is that I believe that life is to be lived in a crescendo.” I knew enough about music to know…I didn’t know what that term meant, but I think it meant that it was gonna get louder, and louder, and louder, and stronger, and stronger until it was over. And it turns out that my initial instinct was right once I checked with my wife and she told me what crescendo meant.
And that has just stuck with me. I think about it often, and I think about, “Is my life in a crescendo? Is who I am, is my character, am I in a crescendo where I’m trying to get better? And no matter what else is going on around, whatever challenges, or adversities, or anything else that’s happening, am I able to say that I am living my life getting better, and stronger, and leveraging all the experience, all the knowledge, everything that I’ve achieved to that point and using that to then get to the next point, and the next point, and the next point?”
So, again, adversity, it reveals character, and then it’s time for all of us to take a hard look, figure out what we need to do to change, how we can improve, and live our life in this crescendo of improvement. And that is the ultimate benefit of driving for net worth, your assets grow, your liabilities decline on a non-financial basis, and on a financial basis, they’re helping you to accomplish those things that you were set out to accomplish, the things you’re passionate about, the things you love, the things that are the most meaningful to you. Many, many thanks to you for joining today. This is a wrap for episode number 70. Happy day.