Embracing adversity

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Barry Cornish
  • 67th Fighter Squadron commander
Five years ago, when faced with life-threatening cancer and an end to my flying career, I suffered the hopelessness and despair that can come when coping with adversity, and so I recognize sometimes it's not easy to deal when life take a turn for the worse. 

Martin Luther King said the measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and convenience, rather where he stands in times of adversity and challenge. Each of us will confront adversity sometime in our lives; some are going through a difficult time this very minute. 

But it's how we endure life's darker moments, and the manner in which we conduct ourselves in the face of life's complexity that defines our character. We draw strength from faith, family, friendships, and sometimes solely from within. Even the courageous can be knocked down; the valor comes in getting back up, dusting yourself off, and driving on. 

While it is all easy to turn to unhealthy ways to cope with stress in our lives, these temporary solutions don't address the problem, and often times give us more mountains to climb. 

Embracing adversity means recognizing exactly what is causing stress in your life, understanding what is and is not under your control, then setting out a plan to deal with your challenges with a positive attitude. You cannot always control the direction your life takes, but you can control your approach to life. 

We see examples of Airmen embracing adversity all around us. Every day we as Airmen must deal with many factors normal people would find overwhelming, yet we drive on. And, in the face of deployments and downsizing, loss and separation, the rigors of combat and training, each of you has the opportunity to shine brilliantly and inspire others to even greater heights. 

Five years ago I had some doubt about flying the F-15 again, or certainly having the opportunity to be a squadron commander. But as I reflect back on that time, I am certain it was positive attitude that helped me get where I am today; maybe not always my own, but maybe someone who motivated me and taught me to embrace adversity and drive on.