The Refining Process

by Bill Mansell on June 8, 2009 | Articles

Take a look at any river or stream and you will learn one of the great lessons of life. Rocks that began as jagged, uneven pieces become smooth and polished stones by the pounding water. Even a little trickle can do the trick given enough time. The continuous water slowly but steadily wears down the rough edges, knocks off uneven corners, and smoothes the surface until what was once rough and unrefined now feels as smooth as a silk pillowcase. The water transforms it into a thing of beauty.

Likewise, precious metals like gold often have irregularities and impurities at first. The intense heat of a refiner’s fire separates the impurities from the gold, leaving the gold pure and beautiful.

Like the pounding of the river or the hot refiner’s fire, each of us has challenges and adversity in our lives. These struggles act like sand paper, smoothing our weaknesses, honing our skills, and polishing our personality until we are transformed into something better than we could ever have become on our own.

Russell Miller said, “You don’t learn a lot from the good things that happen to you; you learn a lot from your challenges and struggles.” How right he is. Think about how your life is different because of the challenges that you have encountered along the way. As much as we hate to admit it, challenges breed strength, endurance, and improved opportunities.

I once knew a man who owned a carpet company in the late 70’s. When interest rates skyrocketed, many of the new homes in which he had installed carpet went into foreclosure. This meant that he didn’t get paid for hundreds of jobs and his entire business went bankrupt. He sold his home, regrouped, and started over. Later, he founded a new company, distributing computer components, which became very successful — much more profitable, in fact, than the carpet company ever was. But, if it wasn’t for what seemed at the time to be a devastating loss, he never would have developed the idea for the new company.

Think about this. When you go to someone for advice or sympathy, do you choose someone who never had a challenge in his or her life, whose attitudes and opinions are untried in the world? No, you go to the one who has overcome adversity, learned from challenges, persevered through trial and achieved success. This is the person whose opinion we value.

So, next time something heartbreaking happens to you, take courage in the thought that you, like the pebble in the river, are being honed and smoothed, refined and transformed into something more beautiful, more successful, and more effective than you ever thought possible.

Bill Mansell is president of MindPerk, Inc., one of the web's largest resources for self improvement and business training. A dynamic speaker and success coach, Bill is the author of a weekly blog titled, One Minute Motivators. Bill helps companies and organizations inspire and motivate their team members to consistently achieve more. His contagious enthusiasm has helped people from all walks of life to reach and exceed their goals.

has 149 articles on MindPerk.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

peachies June 10, 2009

This my be true, but it sure is hard. Sometimes I think I won’t make it.


Ritu June 10, 2009

Just went thru something challenging and thought there was a good reason for it. Collected myself and kept on doing what I needed to. Thanks for affirming the idea of the “Refining Process.”


Steve June 10, 2009

Absolutely beautiful. Like the phoenix rising from the ashes.


Judy June 10, 2009

This is so very true. In the past 8 years, I have cared for and lost both parents, gotten divorced, met the love of my lifetime and lost him to cancer, and am now facing my 2nd loss of employment due to closing of our division. All of these things have made me much stronger and I do believe I will be successful in my pursuit of employment only because we are never given more in life than He or you can handle together. Things are scary and full of uncertainty but I know I will be strong enough to handle them. Everything in life happens for a reason and it’s not up to us to question, but to accept and deal with it. My past will only lead me to a much brigher future. Your article just reinforces my belief.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: