Find growth in the difficulties, says CFO Tramayne Monaghan

Tramayne believes David and Goliath teaches that difficulty grows capability.

David and Goliath is a 2013 book by Malcolm Gladwell. Before I read this book, I assumed it was about how an underdog can use guile and resilience to overcome incredible odds. I was wrong. Not all giants are supposed to win.

However, I have always loved an underdog story. This book challenged me to think differently about who I assume is the underdog. We believe an advantage is often a disadvantage, and the book uses the story of David and Goliath to challenge the reader's thinking.

The book tells of an experiment run by Princeton University. The faculty creates an intelligence test of just three questions and asks incoming students to answer. The average score on the paper is 1.9 out of 3.

They then go and italicise the font, decrease the size and make it less transparent. Common wisdom suggests the scores go down. The truth? Average scores increase by 28 percent. Why? Forcing people to experience difficulty made them more contemplative when answering, and so they scored better.

Difficulty breeds growth. This is life's most exciting paradox.

“Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.” – this quote from a novel by G. Michael Hopf sums up how we can enter good times only through the difficult. It also goes on to show us that the good times weaken us.

Covid-19 has brought a swathe of difficulty to many organisations and people. Life is a mixture of hardship and opportunity. They are opposite sides of the same coin. We seldom gain fulfilment when we’re within our comfort zone, since our most significant accomplishments arise from exploring new horizons.

We need to capitalise now on working from home or spending the morning on work calls from Jeffrey’s Bay. We need to spend time taking on that hobby with the free time we receive from less traffic. Jim from accounting can be a problematic guy; use the opportunity to deal with tricky customers. Martha in marketing is a narcissist, but how can you train yourself to defuse her?

So take this opportunity to find growth in the difficulties by being grateful for the uncomfortable. Find a small moment of gratitude. I love feeling grateful to be alive when I feel the sun touch my skin. It is a trigger I have had for years.

The warmth of the sun feels like life to me, but only after the cold. So remember, to grow, you need to make your own life filled with Italics.