Sometimes Struggle Is What We Need

Sometimes Struggle Is What We Need

A wise man once said “experience is what we get when we don’t get what we want.” We have all had our fair share of “experiences” I am sure. When I was fairly new as an insurance agent, I was given the opportunity to open an office and build a team of insurance agents in East Tennessee. My division sales leader was a man by the name of Perry Quinn from Atlanta. He was number one in our company and a great mentor when I certainly needed it most. One day very frustrated that my team of insurance agents was not growing like I believed they should, he sent me a simple little story. This story was so profound I keep it until this day 17 years later. It reminds me life is not perfect, and sometimes it’s the struggles that I need to condition myself to get my insurance business to the next level. I wanted to share it in my blog.

The story goes “a man found a cocoon of a butterfly that he began to watch and study. One day a small opening appeared in the end of the cocoon. He sat and watched for hours as the butterfly struggled to force its body through the tiny little hole. Then it just seemed to have stopped making any progress at all. It appeared as if it had got as far as it could and it could go no farther.

The man decided he would help the butterfly to keep going. He took out a pair of scissors and carefully snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then easily emerged from the cocoon. However, its body was badly swollen and its wings were shriveled.  The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand large enough to support the swollen body and the body would contract over time. Unfortunately neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its short life just crawling around swollen with shriveled wings until it died.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand, was the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny hole, were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. What seemed to be an act of mercy was ultimately the demise of the butterfly“—-Unknown

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. Don’t question “why me” as if you are being punished. Realize it is God’s way to prepare you for something greater and more beautiful than you can comprehend at that present time.

Struggle is proof that you haven’t been conquered, that you refuse to surrender, that victory is still possible, and that you’re growing.”Jon Walden

Image by www.penscolayp.com


Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.

58 Responses to Sometimes Struggle Is What We Need

  • That is a fantastic story! It made me very sad for the butterfly, but agree 100% that struggles build character and through that, the experience to overcome similar situations with greater ease in the future. Anything in life worth having is going to take hard work. I would not be where I am today without a few hard knocks and I’m proud to say it wasn’t because of “who I know!”

  • Stephani, thank you so much for your kind words. It is a story that I refer to when I find myself going through a “struggle” to remind myself how great the other side will be. I can’t think of one successful person that didn’t go through a major struggle. I wish you much continued success and may your struggles be few.

  • Nice story, I can only hope we are butterflys

  • Thank you Frederick, for your kind words. May we all be emerging butterflies to much success!

  • As someone who has had her life turned upsaide down more than once, I think we all have it rather easy and hard work “never hurt anybody” – it makes you better at what you do!

  • Katherine I’ll bet alot of things come easy to you now that you have made it through the tough struggles. You were being prepared for greater things. I wish you much continued success.

  • Thank Tim. That was worth reading.

  • Michael, I appreciate your kind words, thank you.

  • Great story. I cant tell you how many times in my career I wanted to give up. But somehow I keep going because I like what I do, despite the frustrations. Too many agents give up too soon because they run into road blocks. They could struggle through the adversity and become butterfly’s with great careers but instead take the easy way and waste a lot of good talent. I have seen it too often in my 30 year career.

  • Ted, thank you for your kind words. I agree too many agents can’t seem to push past the tough times. The old expression the road to the mansion on the hill goes through the city dump. Too many look at the dump and stop looking at the mansion. I really appreciate you sharing with us.

  • Tim…. wise post and much needed during a time when we all need to be reminded that keeping a positive and problem solving opportunity perception during all the changes in our industry are vital.

    Growth only comes through struggle. I am hoping also that all the conflict going on in general in our country economically, politically & personally will force us all to pay more attention. Passivity is an enemy to growth and as importantly maintaining laws that protect the basic fabrics of our values & constitutional rights….

  • Kathleen, I am speechless! That is so very well said. I wish more people in this country and certainly our industry were as insightful as you. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • What does not kill you makes you stronger.

  • I love this story, as it can be applied to any part of life – personal, business, family. When applied to business, I have found the struggles made me reassess, refine and sometimes start all over. But the result has always been an improvement in quality, revenue, time, or customer satisfaction.

  • Cindy, thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your story. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Tim, great post. It is similar to the posts I have been doing recently about winning and losing. You are right we need to struggle to succeed. The key thing is you have to learn from that struggle though and not repeat the same mistakes. I was watching the NCAA tournament this weekend and in a coupe of the close games with Indiana and Miami they mentioned that teams who win the championship always face one, at least, nailbiter and if they learn how to deal with that it makes them better. It is the same in life and work. Very timely and really appreciate you brining it up.

  • Rodney, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you, .”Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it”–Winston Churchhill

  • Love it. “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” Zig Ziglar

  • Thank you Lew much appreciated. Zig was one of my all time favorites!

  • Hi Tim,
    Love your blog and the story. I am a true believer in this message. When I lost my first husband back in 1999 and my daughter was 12 1/2 I never thought ‘why me’, I just put one foot in front of the other each day and some days moved forward and some days moved back but I eventually moved in the right direction. Today I totally understand why I went through what I did for it has made me the person I am today and I know it has done the same for my daughter. It has also defined the message I am now out to share with the world.
    Cheers Jane

  • Jane, what an awesome story of triumph over adversity. I really appreciate you sharing your story. My condolences for your loss but am truly glad to hear what a positive life you and your daughter have lived. You made my day, thank you!

  • Very inspiring story… I heard it before, but every time I hear it, I am encouraged to keep “struggling.” I know in the end I will fly!

  • Tim great story, I can see why you kept the article all these years. It’s also food for thought when you are raising kids. Sometimes even as much as you want to help them, you just have to step back and let them spread their wings on their own. Hope you don’t mind but I am sharing with my group on LinkedIn too. Even though I am retired (semi…. still do some benefits enrollments and presentations) I enjoy reading your blog and the insight you offer. Thanks and wishing you continued success.

  • Orland and Norm, you are both very kind and I really appreciate it. Yes Norm, You certainly have my permssion to share any of my blogs. I would be both honored and humbled. There are social media share buttons on the bottom of each blog to make it easy for you. Again I am humbled with gratitude, I really enjoyed writting the article.

  • And you have just made my day with your kind words, thank you. If you would like to find out the whole story about how we overcame adversity and the message I am now compelled to share with the world please check out my book at http://www.janeblaufus.com. Happy Easter.

  • Jane I certainly will. Happy Easter to you and your family as well!

  • Great blog and an awesome story, very inspiring!

  • Awesome and true!

    Truimph is 10% “Try” and 90% “Umph!”

    “What the Caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls it a Butterfly.”
    – Richard Bach in his book, Illusions

  • Duke, you always have the greatest way of putting things in to perspective. Thank you for sharing!

  • Dear Tim, thanks for your blog. I firmly believe that our life struggles and challenges are bestowed upon on us to make us better and hard working people. Believers in ourselves
    that we could achieve success, if we need it badly enough.

    A long story short, 2008 I was in a major car accident returning from a nursing home employee Seminar on Life Insurance. I was pinned under my car dash board from the impact of a vehicle that hit me from the back. My physical therapy lasted for one full year.
    but I had my mind set on winning the hearts of those employees. When I felt better, I revisited the nursing home using a cane as my support. Ending 2009, I had over 100 hundred cases written of life Insurance. Struggles come with sweet success.

  • Gail, what an awesome inspiring story! I am sure this struggle made you the great agent you are today. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  • Tim,
    Great story. I think mant of us have faced that struggle.

  • Thank you Tom, I believe almost everyone had some type of struggle to get to where they are today. I appreciate you sharing.

  • Thank you Tim. I seem to be in that struggle right now. I feel too much like a caterpillar and not enough like a butterfly. My goal is pollination, once I fly again. It’s about legacy, right?

  • Carlos, please do not give up the struggle, look for every venue possible where you think
    you could do business. Seminars at a YWCA or YMCA, Church, Group fund raising affairs.
    Read your local Newspaper to see what is going on around town. Network, something will give. Try to always keep a positive attitude. I might be able to help you, gaabot@yahoo.com.

  • Carlos, I agree with Gail. Reach out to your family and friends and be sure they know exactly how to refer you to their circle of influence. Don’t try to sell them, ask them who they know that could use your services. Teach them how to bring you up in a conversation. Perseverance is the key to success my friend. the cocoon stage is confining but well worth it when you sprout wings and fly! Best of success to you!

  • Keep up the great job, Tim

  • Such an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing, Tim – going through comments is equally inspiring! Unfortunately, am struggling inside my cocoon to break free – much in the same shoe as Carlos. I want to break free.

  • Saad, using the same advice that Gail and I gave to Carlos, it is all about perserverance. Nobody builds a business or an agency overnight. It is a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but the rewards are more than worth it. You will fly one day my friend!

  • A great lesson for anyone that is playing ‘victim’ game

  • Too Busy for a Friend…
    One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

    Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

    It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

    That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

    On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. ‘Really?’ she heard whispered. ‘I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!’ and, ‘I didn’t know others liked me so much,’ were most of the comments.

    No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

    Several years later, one of the students was killed in
    Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature..

    The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

    As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. ‘Were you Mark’s math teacher?’ he asked. She nodded: ‘yes.’ Then he said: ‘Mark talked about you a lot.’

    After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark’s mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher.

    ‘We want to show you something,’ his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket ‘They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.’

    Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

    ‘Thank you so much for doing that,’ Mark’s mother said. ‘As you can see, Mark treasured it.’

    All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, ‘I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.’

    Chuck’s wife said, ‘Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.’

    ‘I have mine too,’ Marilyn said. ‘It’s in my diary’

    Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. ‘I carry this with me at all times,’ Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: ‘I think we all saved our lists’

    That’s when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.

    The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don’t know when that one day will be.

    So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

    And One Way To Accomplish This Is: Forward this message on. If you do not send it, you will have, once again passed up the wonderful opportunity to do something nice and beautiful.

    If you’re ‘too busy’ to take those few minutes right now to forward this message on, would this be the VERY first time you didn’t do that little thing that would make a difference in your relationships?

    Remember, you reap what you sow. What you put into the lives of others comes back into your own.

  • Saad,is there anyone you could team up with to work. You would be looking for a
    motivated energetic individual / individuals. As the weather gets nicer you could also do some walk an talk to local business owners, in you area. Keep talking to your higher force.

  • What the Caterpillar calls the ‘end of the world,” the master calls it a Butterfly.” – Richard Bach

  • Triumph is 10% Try and 90% Umph!

  • Thanks Tim! Right message right time!

  • Duke and Kent I really appreciate you both sharing your thoughts. Very grateful.

  • Tim, this was such a good reminder, thanks.

  • Like it :“Struggle is proof that you haven’t been conquered, that you refuse to surrender, that victory is still possible, and that you’re growing.” ― Jon Walden. Its the struggle that has brought me this far and there is a long way to go. Interesting story of butterfly, very well demonstrated. Those who had work hard and struggle through thier life, this story will touch thier heart. Thank you for the post.

  • I agree. My struggles have made me who I am and continue to strengthen me day by day. I love it. This reminds of a sermon by T.D. Jakes. The video in this comment is one I watch on a regular basis and one that explains the benefit of struggle better than I can.


  • I love this. Heard a number of stories this week-end that fit this pic! One of the speakers said, “Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.”

  • Absolutely love this story! Struggle is the only way towards personal growth.

  • Wonderful story! It’s easy to avoid the struggle and stay in our comfort zone. It’s just as easy to not be successful because of it.

  • Glenn, thank you for the kind words, I whole heartedly agree. We should embrace struggle in stead of always avoiding it. It is truly how we grow.

  • Great reminder, Tim, that our plan is not always the best in the lend. Struggle keeps up humble and builds character and strength for the long haul.

  • Great share, thanks.

  • Thanks – great share.

Leave a Reply