There is so much more to each of us than a resume could hope to illustrate. Our resume helps depict what we’ve accomplished, but our journey is so much more interesting; we gather experiences that help define who we are and what purpose we aim to serve.

Some of us discover the path we want to pursue early, and some of us need to explore several paths to uncover our purpose. My experiences would suggest I am in the second group. Of those experiences, a few stand out for the influence they provided.

Like most, my life has had a fair amount of challenge and adversity. Some life-shaping victories and some incredibly depressing defeats. I’ve started small businesses that succeeded and failed, survived and rebuilt after a traumatic brain injury in the Cascade mountains, and served in the Marine Corps in hostile environments. I’ve run triathlons, worked in an emergency room as part of EMT training, and practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. To me, the experiences that mattered most also required a level of discomfort and hardship – sometimes known, sometimes unknown.

The struggles and hardships – physical, mental, spiritual, intellectual, or emotional – are what teach us the most about ourselves and how to navigate life. My closest friends, colleagues, and mentors from various walks of life, all share one thing in common. They have dealt with adversity, they have new struggles, and for the most part they recognize each challenge life presents as an opportunity to improve. Adversity is simply a part of the human experience.  We strive to avoid struggle and adversity, and yet we recognize it also provides incredible value.

The reason I enjoy strategic consulting and transformative leadership coaching today is due to the similarities of leveraging experiences to unpack problems and navigate challenges. As my journey continues, I am digging deeper into ways to build individual and team resilience to adversity, and better understand what it is that holds us back from reaching our highest potential. How people might see difficult challenges in a new light could be helpful to those who frequently struggle or avoid the challenges in life only to miss an opportunity to better themselves and help others. That’s just about everyone, including me.