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How Adversity Crushes Some and Defines Other- Insight into Richard Branson

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Many people like to judge their mentors, bosses, world leaders, and favorite athletes by how they face adversity.

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The average person in a relationship usually has to deal with adversity on a daily basis. The perfect relationship could change on dime once adversity gets injected into the equation.  Suddenly your perfect man or women who you loved when you dated, had a f’in blissful engagement with and an insane honeymoon is not the person you fell in love with.

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Maybe money is tight.  Maybe you realize your significant other has very annoying habits that drive you crazy.  You now start questioning each other on what your spending money on, why you don’t look to get a better job, and then you start questioning each other’s feelings about each other as your relationship starts to quickly erode.

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In America you basically have the same odds at staying married as picking out a dirty penny from your pocket, flipping it in the air, and guessing if it will land on heads or tails.  This is the scary reality you live in.

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The flip side of this scary story is that half the people out there are pretty good at overcoming adversity and these are the folk I like to learn from.  Sir Richard Branson, the founder of everything Virgin, as in Virgin Airlines/Hotels/Mobile/Books/etc just lost his home on the Island of Necker to a devastating fire caused by a direct lightning hit during a severe tropical storm with winds up to 90 mph.  Thankfully, all of his guest and his 90 year old mum were safely evacuated from his home without injury.

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Most people may be taken back a little by losing their home even if they have the money to deal with it, but not Branson.  In a few days since his disaster he has a rebuilding plan in the works and has even taken the time to share a story about adversity that has clearly shaped the type of person he is.  His story I have re-posted below has given me a new perspective on persevering and I hope it makes an impact in how you deal with the different forms of adversity in your life- enjoy.

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History repeating itself


What happened on Necker this week reminded me of what happened to Thomas Edison when his huge West Orange New Jersey laboratory complex caught fire and burned to the ground. This was Edison’s reaction as told by his son at the time:

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“One December evening the cry of ‘Fire!’ echoed through the (Thomas Edison’s) plant. Spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room and within moments all the packing compounds, film and other flammable goods had gone up with a whoosh…

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When I couldn’t find Father, I became concerned. Was he safe? With all his assets going up in smoke, would his spirit be broken? He was 67, no age to begin anew. Then I saw him in the plant yard, running toward me.

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‘Where’s Mom?’ he shouted. ‘Go get her! Tell her to get her friends! They’ll never see a fire like this again!’

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At 5:30 the next morning, when the fire was barely under control, father called his employees together and announced: ‘We’re rebuilding!’ One man was told to lease all the machine shops in the area. Another, to obtain a wrecking crane from the Erie Railroad Company. Then, almost as an afterthought he added, ‘Oh, by the way. Anybody know where we can get some money?”

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Later on he explained, ‘You can always make capital out of disaster. We’ve just cleared out a bunch of old rubbish! We’ll build bigger and better on these ruins.’ With that he rolled up his coat for a pillow, curled up on a table and immediately fell asleep.”

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At least he didn’t have to contend with any cactus bushes!

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Image by bk1bennet on Flickr

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The above post can be found on Richard’s blog at http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog/history-repeating-itself

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