Strategy & Planning Associate
Recently I was working at a university, helping students prepare for their summer internship interviews. We were going through a series of standard fit questions that often come up in finance interviews, when one of the students’ answers caught me off-guard and really made me think.
I asked the student to tell me about the toughest decision he ever made. He asked me if it could be anything and I told him to go for it. He then told me that the hardest decision he ever made was staying with his girlfriend. I was a little shocked with the initial answer, but as he continued his answer really hit home. He elaborated that he and his girlfriend had gone through a rough patch and had debated ending things. After intense thought he decided that he wanted to work it out. It ended up being one of his best decisions and now he and his girlfriend are in a great place. Now, every time he faces a difficult decision, he thinks back to his relationship and it reminds him to Never Give Up.
Eight years ago, I was living in a multilevel house in Dundas, Ontario. At the time, I lived in the top 2 floors of the house with my girlfriend. Below us on the main floor was a widowed woman that I would often have long conversations with when I was coming home or heading out. She would often talk about her husband that had passed away and how much she missed him.
One day during our conversation she mentioned something about her husband and I said that she and her husband seemed like a perfect match and that they were lucky to have such a great relationship. She replied sternly that they weren’t lucky and that there is no such thing as a perfect match. She told me that for at least a decade she hated her husband and didn’t want to be with him for another minute and it was work everyday to stay together.
My widowed neighbour went on to warn me that life was only going to get harder. “Right now you are young and in love, but that will all change in time and the only thing that will keep your relationship together is work.” She said that in her 70 years of life, she had worked for over 40 years and raised two kids, but the hardest thing she ever did was stay married. She promised me that it would also be the hardest thing I would ever have to do as well.
Like anything great in your life, successful relationships take time and work. According to my neighbour, the problem with most people is that they give up before they ever know what a great relationship is.
We often hear that what separates most successful people in business is that the unsuccessful ones give up before they have the opportunity to achieve something great. Surviving the everyday challenges of life can be a grind and it will often be easier to give up than to forge ahead, but true success will be awarded to those who stay the course even in the hardest of moments.
“In the middle of difficult lies opportunity” — Albert Einstein
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