"If you learn to use it right, the adversity, it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn't have gone any other way."

- UVA basketball coach Tony Bennett

Do you know what has happened 139 times?  The number 1 seed defeating the 16 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Do you know what has happened 1 time?  The number 16 seed defeating the 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Number 1 seeds are 139-1.  That auspicious loss was experienced by the Virginia Cavaliers.  Yeah, the same team that won the NCAA tournament this year.  And that quote by the coach became a frequent refrain this season after he heard it on a TED talk recommended by his wife.  Because the difficulty of your life either becomes the experiential currency of your life as redeemed or the intending tragedy of future experiences if not addressed.

One of my favorite quotes on this topic comes from Mark Batterson:

Every past experience is preparation for some future opportunity.  God doesn’t just redeem our souls.  He also redeems our experiences.  And not just the good ones.  He redeems the bad ones too—especially the bad ones.  How? By cultivating character, developing gifts, and teaching lessons that cannot be learned any other way.

If you attend one of our LifePlan retreats or a corporate retreat with your team, you will likely experience us hitting that concept pretty hard.  We do it a little more exhaustively in a LifePlan retreat, but even in our corporate engagements, we construct a company timeline from inception to current day.

We look at all the great experiences and success as well as all the challenges they’ve overcome and battles they have successfully fought.  And why?  Because all those experiences, both the good and the bad, are treasures to be excavated, mined, studied and captured for future success.

What will it teach us?  More than most of us realize.

Ironically, most leaders we work with…

  • Have a hard time remembering or recognizing the good.

  • Don’t see any redemptive value in the bad.

Is it any wonder that we find ourselves regularly encouraging them to celebrate the success of their teams and look for redemptive perspectives in the challenges they’ve faced?  Literally use the adversity to buy a ticket to a place that they couldn’t have gone any other way (as coach Bennett or whoever he heard it from is known to say).

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
— George Santayana

It might not surprise you that most companies or people don’t initially see much value in reviewing their pasts.  Some people have spent their entire lives trying to forget the tragedy of their stories.  But to almost every person we work with (and certainly in every corporate engagement), the value they glean from those exercises becomes a highlight of the work we do with them.

I recently asked the owners of a successful design firm to list the highlights of their prior year.  I got brief half-hearted responses from both of them.  But once we started an exercise of capturing the highlights with them and their team, we completely filled up a 2 x 3 foot flip chart with dozens of good things and had to start abbreviating and using smaller script just to get everything on the page.


Make sure you are celebrating the good and mining the bad for the treasure that is there.  Or else!


  • When is the last time you celebrated your team’s accomplishments with them?

  • Do you regularly take stock of both the good and the redeemed value of the bad?

  • What is keeping you from doing that?

  • What is it costing you?