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The Value of Contrast

by David DeFord

In the bowels of Kaufmann Stadium, the home of the American League’s Kansas City Royals, the team has a unique pitching machine. Called the “Flame Thrower”, this unique device throws numbered tennis balls at 150 miles per hour.

The machine helps hitters become accustomed to the high-speed pitches and sharpens their eyes. Using the Flame Thrower makes the 90-100mph game pitches seem more manageable.

Also, baseball hitters routinely swing weighted bats in the on-deck circle to make their game bats seem much lighter.

In both cases, the batters use contrast to their advantage.

Personal adversity and challenge can lead us to use contrast to advantage in our lives. Business set backs, family troubles, financial reversals, and serious illness can help us frame our lesser challenges as minor annoyances.

In 2003 I rode my fully loaded recumbent bicycle from Omaha to St. Louis—a journey of over 500 miles. Riding solo, I found places to camp along the way and cooked many of my meals on a backpacking stove.

On that marvelous trip I learned many lessons. One of the most powerful of those lessons related to this concept of contrast.

The first few days of the trip I encountered blistering heat in the 90s, massive and frequent hills, narrow and dangerous bridges, and head winds up to 45mph. At times the winds contorted my face like an astronaut training in a cyclotron. I had to pump the pedals as hard as I could in my lowest gear to go 5 mph—DOWNHILL!

Then I enjoyed a glorious day of ecstasy and bliss. The terrain flattened, the temperature dropped to the sixties and the mild wind shifted to my back.

The challenges of the previous days had greatly strengthened me. The contrast gave me a deeper appreciation for this day of days. I glided through that day, and for the first time ever, I surpassed 100 miles.

The choice to allow adversity to either weaken or strengthen us is ours to make. Just as strenuous exercise builds our muscles, so life’s challenges can build our skills and our characters.

We choose the outcome of our struggles.

Related Quotes

"You are the possessor of a great and wonderful power. This power, when properly applied, will bring confidence instead of timidity, calmness instead of confusion, poise instead of restlessness, and peace of mind in place of heartache. What is your greatest power? The power to choose." J. Martin Kohe

"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever." Isak Dinesen

Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement. Henry Ford

"Prosperity discovers vice, adversity discovers virtue." Francis Bacon

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." Albert Einstein

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  • Free e-zines to instruct and inspire you
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Are you often looking for the right quote to motivate yourself or others? Positive words of encouragement can affect our attitudes greatly. And our attitudes affect every area of our lives. In 1000 Brilliant Achievement Quotes—Advice from the World’s Wisest by David DeFord, you will find encouraging words to help you lift yourself above the ordinary.
From slugger Henry Aaron to Carl Zuckermeyer, Anne Frank to George Burns, wise people have offered wonderful and useful advice on successful living.
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An excellent companion to his first book, Ordinary People Can Achieve the Extraordinary—A Practical Guide to Goal Achievement, these quotes will help you keep focused on reaching your dreams.
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