How do you act in the face of adversity?

When faced with obstacles, people tend to do one of two things. They either complain and blame everybody else for their misery or unfair workload, or they bow down, put that workload on their back and start moving. They either hide from or own their workload and responsibility.

I once studied with a guy who had diabetes. He was overweight, out of shape and lived through people around him, bragging on about how he easily could do what they did if he wanted to – all while he complained about his out of shape body and blamed every possible person or misfortune done to him for not having the body he so very well deserved and should have, had it not been for that one person or that one incident. His main argumentation was that since I didn’t have diabetes, I couldn’t understand what he went through, and had he not had diabetes, he would have looked better and have been stronger than I was. He might be right – I don’t have diabetes. Nevertheless, he would always be the guy spending more money on candy than everybody else, and he would be the guy skipping workouts like he was getting paid for it. But, I guess, diabetes, right? But this guy also has diabetes though. He used to workout where I did. Rarely do I come across guys working that hard. Being diabetic probably harassed him too somehow – I mean, the disease sucks I’ve heard – but somehow he was still able to smash sessions continuously. He was – and still is – stronger than I am. And I’m even perfectly healthy.

He (the guy I studied with) didn’t chase his goals. He didn’t have any, he only had dreams. There is a big difference between the two. He dreamed about his future model girlfriend and his big fancy car, while teasing people around him – including me – of how he would succeed in life and soon get what he deserved. I would always pity him – God knows I’ve tried helping him – because his words were light as feathers. I knew he wouldn’t get any of it. I knew it because he wasn’t able to put in the work it required. While he was bragging about his future successes, I would work silently. I would get stronger in the gym, I would excel at my workplace and I would enhance my knowledge through studies. I didn’t mind washing the floor or taking out the trash at work – I did it because it built character. I knew it did. I never had problems with getting my hands dirty, or working from sunrise to sunset. I would rather work on my crafts than drink my brains out Friday night. And don’t get me wrong, each to their own – I just can’t deal with the hangover, so I stopped drinking a couple of years ago. I would be down 2 days straight for a night out I couldn’t remember anyway. “Maybe” – you might think, “you shouldn’t drink that much Mathias” – which I’ll answer with; if you can’t drink a bottle of Tequila alone, you are not a worthy opponent.

Fast forwards 4 or so years. I’ve received my Bachelor’s degree, and I’ve received my Master’s degree (with a 9.4 average) while working almost full time for Siemens. I’ve travelled abroad multiple times conducting workshops and lessons learned for different offshore projects, discussing topics and giving feedback to project managers and technical engineers – and according to the recommendation I got from my former manager, I’m not the worst kind of guy to work with. And him? He still haven’t received his Bachelor’s degree. While I’ve saved up money, he wasted money on gadgets, clothes, candy and booze. While he was day dreaming, I did the fucking work.

“Mathias has during his employment been involved in Offshore Sales Projects in UK, NL, N and DK where he has mastered perfectly to work with people of different nationalities and cultures. Mathias has for all his tasks been dedicated and shown ownership and has always met our deadline without compromising the quality of the work. He quickly showed that he could handle bigger tasks and handle more responsibility and was given the task to implement KPI’s in our department, which was done very successfully. 
Mathias has been very well-liked by his colleagues and in our organization in general, and during his 1 1/2 year employment he has really made his marks both professionally and with his open and kind personality – and he will be missed.”
– Former Project Coordination manager, Siemens Gamesa.

Be aware of the silent type who puts in the work. Keep an eye out for the silent guy/girl, who is working their ass off without complaining. Watch them, as they move past you while you’re daydreaming away.

Determination is a scarce commodity. Everybody dreams, just like everybody has a story to tell. The difference is that some people write down goals, stay shut about it and chase them, while others stay dreaming. The difference is that some people convey their message so that it inspires, while others never open their mouth.


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