This is part 6 in the series: RESILIENCE

I’m going to get fed. That’s a pretty good gig.

Adversity is the necessary ingredient for resilience. The Great Depression led immediately to the Greatest Generation. We often hear talk about the World War II generation as being the Greatest Generation in our history. Part of that formative experience was going through the Great Depression. The Great Depression was a necessary ingredient to create the people who could win the Second World War. When the Army recruiter said “Son, I’d like you to sign up and go fight the enemy” and the kid said, “Well what do I have to do?” “Well once you sign up we are going to put you on a train with about a hundred other guys and you are going to ride for three days to go to training camp.” Here’s the kid’s question:

Kid:  “Are you going to feed us?” 

Recruiter:  “Yes.” 

Kid:  “Then I’m in.” 

Now, if we ask people today who haven’t had adversity:

Recruiter:  “I’d like you to ride in a train for three days with a bunch of guys for a training camp, go across the ocean, you’re going to sit in a boat for two and a half weeks and then people are going to try to kill you.”

Kid:  “I don’t know. Do I get Xbox?”

How many people do you think would sign up?

That’s not going to make a great generation.

The questions are different. The reason is because with the tremendous economic lack of The Great Depression, the expectations for what will make you happy were much lower. These young men and women could face adversity and say “Oh. I can handle that. I’ve handled worse. I’m going to get fed. That’s a pretty good gig.”  We have created a generation of people who don’t have any adversity. The hardest thing they have to figure out is does this shirt go with this tie? Do these shoes match this outfit? That’s not going to make a great generation.

Today, many of you are saying, “This sucks. Our economy is down. This is really bad. This is awful.” Hey. That was the training ground for us to either do well or do badly. If you took an “I quit” attitude and hid somewhere, then you were likely to fail. If you took the “fight” attitude and used that time, you could become a part of another Generation of Greatness.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

NEW LEADERSHIP ARTICLE: Leadership-is-Mental