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“Life holds a potential for meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones.” Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning.

Life has a funny way of teaching us lessons and encouraging growth – a funny way of helping us discover meaning.  Not many people choose to grow or change when they are comfortable.  It is the uncomfortable times, sometimes the painful times, and definitely the dark times in life that can either destroy us, or teach us greatness.

Who, or maybe what, have been your darkest teachers?

For me, it was that CEO who told me I had to “eat, sleep, and breathe” my job.  She taught me my family was more of a priority than any job ever would be, and that finding “meaningful” work was far more important than a high-paying position.

That “real estate guru” mortgage broker taught me that hard work is far more rewarding than “instant wealth”, and fast money is slow death no matter what kind of package you wrap it up in.

My loved-one’s illness taught me patience and the meaning of truly “loving another person in their individuality and in their uniqueness,” as Frankl writes.  It also taught me that when you can’t control or change the situation, you still have the ability to change your attitude towards it.

My own hospital stay taught me humility.  It taught me that no goal in life was worth risking my own health.  Those days sharing a room and talking with my roommate “Oscar”, rest his soul, started me down the path of understanding my own spirituality, and learning about Frankl’s writings on the psychological importance of spirituality.

Life is full of Dark Teachers.  We can choose to wallow in the darkness and be blinded by it, or we can choose to learn from that teacher and integrate it into who we are, what we do, and how we relate to others.

Who are your Darkest Teachers?  What did you learn from them?  Are you still in the dark?

Big thanks to Tim Ferriss for suggesting this exercise.  For more of his ideas, I definitely recommend The 4-Hour Body and Tools of Titans.