Are you going “through something” or “to something”?

It is a fact of life that, regardless of our position in life, whether we’re smart or not, rich or poor, we all face challenges. How we deal with them and what we learn from them determines what we become.

Challenges come in various forms. Some have to deal with health issues in themselves or in family members. Others face emotional issues such as depression or a lack of self-esteem. Still others face relationship challenges such as rejection, a lack of love, betrayal, abandonment, conflict or abuse.

Many believe money solves all problems in life and that, if they just had money, 90% of their problems would be a thing of the past. That is just a myth. While money certainly helps to make life more comfortable and convenient, it does not provide protection against life’s challenges.
So, if money isn’t the answer to all of our problems, what is?

The answer lies in the grammar you use – which preposition you live your life by.

If you live in terms of a “through”, you will always be struggling with some sort of challenge. People who live based on what they’re going through see their problems as an end in themselves rather than as part of a process.

When you only think in terms of going through things, you have no fixed idea of what you’re moving towards; you never have any intention of finding a solution to your challenge so that you can move on to a goal you have set yourself – something you’re moving to.

Don’t for one moment think that I am seeing challenges as a negative. On the contrary. We learn some of our most profound lessons in the midst of the biggest challenges we face.

During my primary and high school careers, as a skinny youngster at a small town boys-only school, I was bullied quite badly by bigger boys looking to compensate for their own sense of disempowerment. Towards the end of my high school career, however, I learnt how to handle those bullies, not meeting them with brute force but out-thinking them.

Believe it or not, today, I am extremely grateful that I was bullied – the skills I learnt from handling those school yard bullies literally saved my life many decades later when, arriving home late one night, I was confronted by three armed men in my garage.

Recognising that armed men are simply bullies in another form, I quickly called on those almost forgotten skills I learned courtesy of my high school bullies and switched into “handle bully” mode. Using these and other techniques I had learned along life’s journey, I got myself and my family through the experience unscathed.

I do not make light of other people’s experience at the hands of bullies, nor of my own experience with the armed robbers – I hope I never have to face a situation like that ever again – but my point is that sometimes, when we go through something, it’s so that we can go to something.

At a simplistic level, because I had endured bullying, I was able to go to the rest of my as-yet-unlived life. The way I see it, I got a second chance at life and am eternally grateful for this. My life could have ended that evening and I would not have gone “to” anything ever again.

If you’re going through a tough time now, don’t allow yourself to get stuck in it. Keep your chin up and do your best to deal with the challenge and, above all, learn as much as you can from what you’re going through because you never know what it will help you go to.

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine,, @HRFuturemag. He assists executives to develop new generation leadership skills, manage their age as an asset, and achieve self-mastery so that they can lead with greatness and agility in an increasingly disruptive world.

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