Lessons Learned About Overcoming Adversity
I have faced many challenges in my life, but none as challenging as these weeks before I prepare to leave my family behind. Any person who knows that prison awaits may potentially go through a similar adversity.
I pleaded guilty to the crime of bribing a public official. The time has passed for questioning the conviction. I made a bad decision and agreed to plead guilty. A federal judge sentenced me to serve a 28-month sentence. Through that humbling experience, I took another lesson on the importance of working through crisis and adversity.
This crisis is my only challenge with the criminal justice system, but it isn’t my first challenge and I am not so naive as to think it will be my last..
We are human beings and we must embrace the good times with the bad, always striving to work toward becoming better—toward making the most of all challenges and adversity that God puts in our path. Each opportunity to overcome adversity brings an opportunity to build character.
I am 71-years-old as I write this journal. And as I reflect, I know that I’ve made many mistakes in my life. Despite the challenges that followed bad decisions, I’ve always felt determined to learn. By learning, we become better and we grow stronger. I am thankful that God gives me a sense of inner peace, even when I’m in the midst of struggle or challenge.
I’ve been adhering to this strategy for decades.
As an industrialist, my work takes me around the world. Those trips keep me busy. Yet regardless of where I am, I attend mass and say pray with my rosary every day. Those prayers help me build confidence that I can overcome and move forward. The daily commitment has carried me through tough times before and I’m confident that this strategy will help me grow stronger through the weeks leading up to my confinement, and the months that I am away.
Every person has something to offer. We simply never know who we will meet, or how our experiences will influence our future. We must appreciate our unique gifts, including the people we will meet and the experiences we have. As a human being, I am stronger because and my family is stronger because of the positive mindset that I have developed. I’ve heard a saying we forge gold through the fire of adversity. Similarly, in times of crisis, we can grow stronger.
I learned these lessons as a young man. As a child, my family immigrated to the Detroit area from Baghdad. Our parents wanted to provide my siblings and me with a better life and more opportunities. I still remember my first Hershey’s candy bar and the first time I saw snow. I was perhaps 10-years-old when we came, and I had so much to learn.
Our parents brought seven children into the world. My twin brother and I were conjoined at birth. He did not survive after the surgery to separate us. For decades, I carried the loss inside of me, wondering why God allowed me to live and him to die. That challenge motivated me to aspire to do better, to live for both of us.
My father, a hard-working man, did his best to provide for my siblings and me. But it was difficult for him. And once I grew older, knowing that I wanted more, I kept my eyes open for opportunity, never knowing where it would come. Through a friendship with Ayman Amir, our family’s life changed. He introduced me to export business, and over time, we built businesses that created hundreds of jobs and paid millions in taxes. Had it not been for the adversity of my youth, I may not have met my friend Ayman, and may not have enjoyed the many blessings that have come our way—including the blessing of this challenge.
Overcoming adversity is not easy, but it is possible. If I can do it, anyone can. I encourage anyone who is facing challenges to never give up on themselves. Keep fighting, and never lose sight of your dreams.