F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said: “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.”
A study conducted by sports psychologist Tim Woodman shows successful people have often experienced a traumatic event early in their life, such as a death, illness or divorce of their parents.
The traumatic event causes them to shift gears and begin to develop their skill-set while focusing on their talents.
Woodman’s study also implies that individuals who didn’t experience trauma or tragedy in their early life often lack the drive needed to attain maximum success.
Here are six reasons why tragedy creates tough competitors in the workforce.
1. Open to new possibilities
Scientific research has shown that tragedy leads people to seek new possibilities, including career, relationship and lifestyle changes.
For example, a cancer survivor may become an art therapist at a hospice. Others may write a book about their experience or start a related business. These activities open up people’s networks and expand their opportunities.
Tragedy is a humbling experience. It gifts people with a new appreciation for life. They become grateful for simple pleasures. They become grateful for the present moment. Workplace gratitude inspires others, and enables one to deal better with stress.
An experiment was conducted on fundraising callers by The University of Pennsylvania. Researchers found that grateful leaders were able to motivate their employees to make 50% more successful calls.
3. The ability to bond with colleagues
Tragic experiences often deepen our bonds with friends, family and colleagues. One begins to place greater value on these connections, causing them to flourish and prosper.
Many employees spend more time with work colleagues than they do with friends and family. Positive work relationships enhance productivity, teamwork and employee morale.
4. Dogged resilience
When a person experiences tragedy, their personal strength grows and they become resilient by default. Resilient individuals make tough competitors in business because they are hard to rattle.
When one has dealt with a significant trauma, they learn about their own strengths, enabling them to be confident risk-takers.
5. The ability to fight
Career success requires a great deal of courage and the ability to get in the ring and fight. Tragedy strengthens one’s fighting prowess, not through choice but rather through necessity.
Abraham Lincoln was a fighter, but was he born one? Or did he become one whilst overcoming numerous failures and tragedies on his journey to becoming US President?
6. Spirituality and health
For many individuals, tragedy provides the impetus to give up negative habits, lifestyles and addictions.
A lot of people turn to organized religion, or spiritual practices such as Yoga, meditation or chanting.
Others will turn their focus to health, exercise and nutrition. Tragedy can awaken us spiritually, inspiring us to change the direction of our lives, which in turn gives us a competitive edge in the workplace.
Spiritual, emotional and physical well-being are paramount before you can attain career success and self-actualization. This is outlined in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
I’ve experienced a lot of tragedy in my life, but reminding myself that greatness is often born from darkness enables me to put one foot in front of the other. And for that, I am grateful.