Adversity is not reserved for day-time soap operas. Even the most fortunate of us has experienced adversity of some type: loss of job, health problems, failed relationships, disappointments at work, financial difficulties, death of loved ones, etc.

I intentionally used the word move in the title. Since adversity has an uncanny knack of paralyzing us, it becomes critical to keep moving through it. Otherwise, we will be stalled in the grip of our adversity.

After getting over the adversity shock, we have to make a choice. Do we become mired in the quicksand of self-pity — immobilized? Or, do we do what is necessary to attack and overcome our adversity?

Those who have survived life’s adversities will tell you — a survival experience is an invaluable gift because in adversity, you get to know who you really are. There is a saying in Tibetan, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.” No matter what sort of difficulties or how painful an experience is, if we stop moving forward, that’s our real disaster.

The pathway to success is rarely smooth. If we keep moving, we often find that what appear to be stumbling blocks are actually stepping stones… to a bright future.

We are all aware of stories of famous people in sports, entertainment, politics and business who kept moving through adversity to achieve great success. But you really do not have to look farther than your inner circle to find people who have chosen to move through adversity. They may not have their photos slapped on Yahoo’s home page, but their challenges were just as dramatic and potentially paralyzing.

One of the most positive and enthusiastic people I know is a friend of mine named Melissa. When you meet Melissa, she appears to have it all — a terrific personality, good looks, intelligence, a great sense of humor and success. What is not apparent is that Melissa moved past major adversity that would have left most people mired in self-pity. In 2000, Melissa was a homemaker taking care of her three-year-old autistic son and a newborn boy — a challenging, full-time job.

One day without warning, Melissa’s life changed dramatically. Without any explanation, her husband walked in and said he was leaving. He walked out the door and never turned back, leaving Melissa and the children with the house and the bills. Her husband moved in with one of Melissa’s good friends.

Melissa’s world was shattered. Losing her husband and her friend, and being left to pick up the pieces without financial or emotional support was enough to handle. On top of that, she did not have a job because she had left her career four years earlier to stay home and have a family.

It would have been easy to become mired in self-pity, bitterness, and hatred over the unfair situation that she was thrown into — who would blame her?

Some say adversity grinds you down while others say it polishes you up. It all depends on whether you choose to get mired down or get moving forward. Adversity polished Melissa up. She chose to pick up the shattered pieces one at a time and continue to move forward with her life. The trip has not been easy, but she would not allow adversity to destroy her, her children, or their dreams.

Today, Melissa is a successful graphic designer and is a tremendous inspiration to me. In fact, she has designed over 65 books including nine of mine. Melissa is willing to share her tested strategies for moving through if you email her (she’s also willing to help you design your next project!).

Sooner or later, we all face adversity. When it hits you, keep moving so you can conquer it… and write your own success story!