Tackling Adversity

puzzleA positive attitude can help c-store employees thrive in the face of any obstacle.

By Jim Callahan

I recently came across a thought provoking and very astute quotation that captivated my attention, and since I have this great forum provided by Convenience Store Decisions, I thought I would share it because it relates as much to business as it does to life.

It goes: “Adversity visits the strong, but remains forever with the weak.”

Pretty darn powerful wouldn’t you say? The sentiment is something most of us can relate to, and if we want, benefit from. Exploring the meaning a little bit, you can probably find how it relates to you. It makes no difference as long as we are honest with ourselves and resolve to improve.

In my case, after reading and re-reading that quote a few dozen times and really thinking about it, my overriding thought was: “How can I make myself stronger?”

That sentiment rings as true today as the lessons I learned many years ago, after Dad bought a small pharmacy in rural upstate New York when I was in the third grade. That was my first taste of the retail business, which I learned at the ground level. I still remember my first work assignment of filling the two soda coolers with beverages.

Back then, coolers were coffin-like contraptions that you filled with about six inches of water before placing 12-ounce glass bottles of Coke and Pepsi in neat rows. This was after placing a large block of ice, directly in front of the fan at the rear of the long cooler. The drinks were a nickel, just like a single-scoop ice cream cone.

Later, I became a popular and in-demand Soda Jerk. I knew nothing about portion control, but I got great satisfaction from interacting with the public—a task I found easy and fun.

So what do bottles of Pepsi and scoops of ice cream have to do with adversity? Just that not all tasks are equally sweet. Now, with a number of years of retail experience under my belt, the lessons I’ve learned through trial and error have been the lessons that have really stuck with me.
For instance, several times a year Dad would have a load of slab wood delivered to our back yard that had to be split and brought into a store room, and the wood required three strong throws to arrive at the right spot before it could be placed in neat piles. I recall vividly how discouraged I would get looking at that mountain of wood, knowing the long hours it would take to accomplish the task and the wood slivers that would invade my hands.

I must admit that in those early days, I wasn’t always as positive as I needed to be and some work duties were not fun like playing in the coolers or scooping ice cream. It was at those times that I would find myself somewhat defeated even before I started the task at hand.

In truth, I still feel like that at times, but I learned when I was young the quicker and stronger my skillset, the faster I could get the job done. Earning that feeling of accomplishment pleased me like no other.

So, when you find those little flecks of adversity hanging around too long, pulling you in a direction that has you feeling defeated, remember this stanza from the Edgar Guest poem, “It Couldn’t Be Done”:

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done. But he with a chuckle replied that “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried. So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin on his face. If he worried he hid it. He started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Of course, each of us has to find our own way of dealing with adversity, but hopefully it will be a bit easier to cope with by just understanding that motto:“Adversity visits the strong, but remains forever with the weak.”

Jim Callahan has more than 40 years of experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on CSDecisions.com. He can be reached at (678) 485-4773 or via e-mail at jfcallahan502@msn.com.




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