Most great stories of victory are, in actuality, great stories of overcoming adversity. Virtually every team and organization experiences adversity of some type: economic hardships, loss of a major customer, lack of funding, failed partnerships, natural disaster, the death of a team member, etc.
To help move through adversity and onto victory, take stock of what was lost or has changed and have gratitude for what remains. When we experience a significant setback, we tend to think all is lost, but that is rarely the case.
The value of taking stock and moving through challenges is exemplified by Anthony Robles. In fact, a movie about his experience will be produced by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s new production company.
We shared his story in the 2009 release of Stick with It since it perfectly illustrated the title of that book.
Even with two undefeated seasons and two high school state wrestling titles under his belt, Anthony Robles was not heavily recruited by colleges. So, he felt he had something to prove in the college wrestling scene once he joined the Arizona State University team.
And prove himself a worthy competitor is what he did. Robles won the NCAA Division I wrestling championship in 2011, capping off a perfect 36-0 season. En route to victory, he focused on doing amazing things with what he had. He didn’t worry about what he did not have…one leg.
Anthony Robles was born with just one leg. As a kid, he hated his prosthetic leg, so he never used it. Everything he did – including playing basketball and football – he did on one leg.
His freshman year in high school, Anthony joined the wrestling team. He lost virtually every match that first year. Then, with the help of his coach, he began adapting his strategy and style to fit what he did have, like incredible upper body strength. And before long, he was winning.
Robles moved through the adversity of having only one leg in large part by focusing on what he had rather than what he had lost.
When he received the 2011 Jimmy V ESPY Award for Perseverance, he said, “[My mother] taught me to never let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. She didn’t protect me from pain and failure because she knew it would make me stronger.”
He concluded his acceptance speech with this message: “Every soul who comes to earth with a leg or two at birth must wrestle his opponents knowing it’s not what is, but what can be that measures worth. Make it hard, just make it possible, and through pain, I won’t complain. My spirit is unconquerable. Fearless, I will face each foe, for I know I am capable. I don’t care what’s probable, through blood, sweat, and tears, I am unstoppable.”