Challenges Build Strength

by Bill Mansell on December 3, 2012 | One Minute Motivators

If you sometimes feel like you have to fight to keep ahead in life, think of this poem and realize that the path to greatness, while it is sometimes punctuated with exciting successes and thrilling bursts of speed, is primarily paved with difficulty, stress and hard work. Sometimes, when life seems the hardest, that’s the very time that you grow.

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with challenges, remember that the woman or man who overcomes the most strife is also often the one who makes the greatest contribution to this world.  This principle is beautifully illustrated in the poem below…

Trees and Men

The tree that didn’t have to fight,
For sun and sky and air and light,
But lived out on the open plain,
And always got its share of rain;
Never became a forest king,
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never tasted spoil,
The man who never had to toil,
That never had to win his share,
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man,
But lived and died where he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger the winds, the tougher the trees;
The further the sky, the greater the length,
The more the storms, the more the strength.

By sun and cold and rain and snow,
In tree or man, good timbers grow;
Where the thickest stands the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both,

Who hold, and converse with the stars,
Whose broken branches show many scars,
Of many winds and much of strife,
This is the common law of life.


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.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Valaguru Nehru December 4, 2012

Dear Bill Mansell,
I have read 3 or 4 times, this poem. Very nice. I also want to share a Tamil literature poem which describes life as a boat, this poem was written some 2000 years ago.

யாதும் ஊரே, யாவரும் கேளிர்,
தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர்தர வாரா,
நாதலும் தணிதலும் அவற்றோ ரன்ன
சாதலும் புதுவது அன்றே, வாழ்தல்
இனிதுஎன மகிழ்ந்தன்றும் இலமே, முனிவின்
இன்னாது என்றலும் இலமே, பின்னொடு
வானம் தண் துளி தலைஇ ஆனாது
கல் பொருது இரங்கும் மல்லல் பேர்யாற்று
நீர்வழிப் படுஉம் புணைபோல் ஆருயிர்
முறைவழிப் படுஉம் என்பது திறவோர்
காட்சியின் தெளிந்தனம் ஆதலின் மாட்சியின்
பெரியோரை வியத்தலும் இலமே,
சிறியோரை இகழ்தல் அதனினும் இலமே.
(புற நானூறு, 192

The Sages

To us all towns are one, all men our kin,
Life’s good comes not from others’ gifts, nor ill,
Man’s pains and pain’s relief are from within,
Death’s no new thing, nor do our blossoms thrill
When joyous life seems like a luscious draught.
When grieved, we patient suffer; for, we deem
This much-praised life of ours a fragile raft
Borne down the waters of some mountain stream
That o’er huge boulders roaring seeks the plain
Tho’ storms with lightning’s flash from darkened skies.
Descend, the raft goes on as fates ordain.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !
We marvel not at the greatness of the great;
Still less despise we men of low estate.

(Translation by G.U.POPE- in 1906)


Bill Mansell December 5, 2012

Thanks for sharing this intriguing poem.


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