Hardship—the Great Life Equalizer
Research shows the following information;
Hardship affects the wealthy and the poor; the young and the old; the corporate CEO and the teacher in a one-room school. “The human condition guarantees that each life will encounter natural and largely unpredictable trauma. . . . Leadership, by its very nature, is entwined with adversity” (Stoner & Gilligan, 2002, p.17).
Given this sober dose of reality, the question that begs to be answered is this: How do human beings face hardship and how do they turn an adverse circumstance into a developmental experience? Since leadership is my professional interest, the above question even goes a bit deeper: Does hardship play a role in leadership development? Can people learn important leadership skills and competencies from their own experiences with hardship?
These and other related questions led me to start researching this topic two years ago. However, it was not until I faced my own set of hard circumstances that I began to understand the life-changing impact that hardship has on an individual. Kolb’s (1983) cycle of the experiential learning process has been validated in my own experience; I was better able to understand the role of hardship in shaping and molding leadership by the concrete experience of my own and others’ difficulties, as well as by the theoretical research I undertook.
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