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Is it possible to experience personal growth without experiencing challenges? Maybe.

But the positive changes are usually short-lived.

Few people seek out difficulties and challenges when they want to transform their life. Do you?

I don’t, to be honest. Yet I’ve found that it’s in the intensity and difficulty that trials bring where the best results happen.

Illustrations and practical examples of this dynamic truth

It turns out that challenges provide the necessary ingredient for true and lasting change. It’s because we’re forged in the fire into something different.

When gold is mined from deep in the earth and brought to the surface, it’s not worth as much as it could be.

Gold has to go through a powerful and intense refining fire to reach its maximum value. There’s dross and other minerals that have to be purged off of it, usually through an intense burning process.

The same is true for personal development

Whether we look at people in history or in fiction and film, we see this dynamic play out time and time again.

What do these characters have in common?
Aladin, King David, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali, Paolo Coehlo, Adonis Creed, and JK Rowling

*Note, several of the people listed here have stories worth exploring, which you can read in the book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole.

It’s more than what you think. Each of these individuals spent serious time in a figurative refining fire. Some spent time in a literal one too.

The point is, they had to do some deep soul searching to make a commitment to themselves that was unshakeable.

The fire is where icons are made

Conventional wisdom tells us to find someone who has done what you want to do and follow their example.

What if there hasn’t been anyone you know of who has faced what you’re up against?

We think that success is the result of greatness happening TO us. A stoke of luck. Hard work finally coming through. Overcoming the odds and winning.

But the truth is, it’s in the places where we’re tested the most that forge icons.

Look at the historic and Biblical character of David

We naturally think of his battle against Goliath as the pinnacle of overcoming insane odds. But that was just the first step.

The man who would become king was birthed in the desert while on the run from a man who was like a father to him: King Saul.

Saul was filled with so much jealousy of David for numerous reasons that he tried to kill him. Repeatedly.

David fled to a proverbial fire experience.

His proverbial fire was the desert. It was in this lonely place that he was prepared for what would end up being his reign as king.

He learned to trust himself and God. As he waited in the desert, he was joined by 400 people who would become a mighty army.

The experience of serving them taught him how to lead.

He learned to listen to wisdom instead of the opinions of others. He learned what sacrifice really looked like.

Be like David and overcome the Goliath in your path with this free resource.

Let’s look at more recent icon

Oprah Winfrey spent years in a proverbial desert before becoming one of the richest and most successful names in history.

She struggled as a TV anchorwoman when she was just getting started in media as a co-anchor in Baltimore.

What fueled her belief that she could overcome this challenge was the faith she had in herself after surviving a hellacious childhood.

She was victimized as a child through sexual abuse by her cousins. She grew up in poverty and lived in different family members’ homes until her father took her in.

And that’s just part of the horrendous experiences she endured.

Winfrey made herself strong by refusing to see herself as a victim, and never backing down from challenges. According to Business Insider, she transitioned the program “AM Chicago” from the lowest rated program in Chicago to the highest rated one.

This program would eventually become the Oprah Winfrey Show. The rest is history.

Challenges serve a purpose to produce your best life.

We’re conditioned and trained by parents, teachers, and institutions to see trials as something to avoid. So many people are trying to work more to make money so they can be comfortable.

Yet comfort and growth are opposites of each other.

Difficulty, trials, and challenges are how you are made into the best version of yourself.

“Pain can be your best teacher because it has your undivided attention.”

(Excerpt from Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole)

When you choose to allow your hardest challenges be a personal trainer, everything changes.

The perspective shift is essential. You’re able to now see fully where your mindset is causing you problems.

Then you’re able to make the shift and experience real growth.

Where the fire and I intersected changed everything.

My lifelong greatest fear was rejection and abandonment by the one I gave my heart to. I thought getting married saved me from this coming true.

I was wrong.

Yet it was in the hell of my worst heartbreak that I found what was really missing: I didn’t know how to love myself.

Would I have ever learned self-love and personal wholeness if I hadn’t been brought into the fire of heartbreak? I don’t know.

But instead of letting that experience break me, I used inspiration from people like Oprah to let the challenge and difficulty transform me.

Your worst pain can be the vehicle that takes you into your best life. If you’ll allow it. And when you fully commit to yourself to overcome the pain so you can live your best life.

5 ways that challenges fuel your best life

1. Extreme tests and challenges create icons

2. The (perceived) loneliness of the desert is where you learn to trust yourself and grow your faith

3. Comfort and growth are opposites

4. Your hardest challenges are what reshape your mindset and beliefs, creating powerful growth and transformation

5. Staying on the path despite challenges is how you become unstoppable

The best triumphs and victories come with fire.

See your brokenness for what it truly is: a need for you to see yourself wholly and grow your faith.

You can define faith however you want.

Faith in self. Belief in your higher power. Faith in God.

Trust in all of the above.

Don’t run away from the challenges that lay in front of you, no matter how impossible they may seem.

You were made to face giants.

It’s part of the human story.

You will likely find the motivation, determination, and power to transform your life present in the fires of challenge.

Learn how to rewrite your story to transform your life here.

d grant smith self-love teacher coach empowerment superhero

About Me: Hi, I’m D Grant Smith, The Growth Farmer of Personal Development Through the Lens of Spirituality and Storytelling.

Experience and download more of my powerful & life-changing stories here.


*This story was republished on Medium.