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The Key to Overcoming Adversity

16th July 2019

It’s inevitable that we will face adversity at some point in our lives, whether that be on a personal or professional level. In some cases, it can impact on our thoughts, behaviour and our relationships with others. Despite the challenges it presents, overcoming adversity can be hugely beneficial, ensuring we can, once again, press forward with determination and steadfastness in order to reach our personal goals.

Emmanuel Jal is an inspirational example of someone who experienced adversity in its ugliest form, enduring pain and heartache throughout the majority of his childhood. Using his love of hip hop as a musical catalyst, he eventually released himself from the clutches of adversity.

The key to overcoming adversity generally differs according to the individual and what they have experienced. Despite this, there’s one thing you can do to kick-start the process – change your perspective. Where this sounds like an almost impossible feat for those of us who are going through difficult times, it all starts with the ability to focus purely on the present, and not what happened in the past or what will happen in the future. It all comes down to the minimising of stress. Redirect your energy and use it to focus on generating positive thoughts, feelings and experiences.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup”

Jal understands that investing in your own health is of the utmost importance when it comes to overcoming adversity. He believes that having a positive state-of-mind creates much needed space and tranquility, thus allowing us to think, organise and plan more effectively. It can also pave the way for increased productivity.

Everything from the food we eat to the activities we undertake can improve our spiritual wellness, resulting in nothing but contentment, according to Jal. He sees it as a journey which is made up of a series of practices, including meditation. Emmanuel referenced meditation as his medication, something he promotes through the programmes he offers.

Someone who is filled with stress, tension and negativity cannot be at the optimum level of spiritual wellness and business functionality. In order to help others, you must first help yourself, and for that to happen, discipline is needed. No matter how despondent one may feel, there’s always hope that one day, feelings of despair and sadness will eventually dissipate. But this can only come with a generous amount of self-love and care.
Finding your purpose

Adversity can extinguish any feelings of positivity, diminishing one’s ability to be happy. It’s a parasite, latching onto our feelings of hope, determination and contentment. It weighs us down, depleting the reserve of energy we need to get through difficult times. Often, the impact can be so detrimental that we can forget our purpose in life, but that doesn’t mean to say that we can’t find our way again.

One of Jal’s many projects include ‘My Life is Art’, a platform whereby he seeks to inspire individuals, clubs and groups, encouraging them to have more faith in both themselves and their abilities. The aim of this is to remind those who have either gone through, or are still experiencing adversity, that they continue to have a purpose. Rediscovering this about themselves will allow participants to embrace his programme, thus generating the energy they need to thrive once again.

Recognise the good

Adversity has the ability to make an individual feel exceptionally lonely, evoking completely justified, toxic feelings of rejection, neglect or abandonment. Regardless of the adversity being experienced, there will always be a person, or several people in your life who can offer you a guiding hand. This only emphasises the fact that you are loved.

Despite living a lonely and dangerous childhood, Jal’s helping hand came in the form of a woman, named Emma McCune. A young British foreign aid worker who ripped Jal from the jaws of war. Being a child soldier during the Second Sudanese Civil War, Jal had witnessed the ugliest side of warfare, so much so, he ran away from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), hoping to never again experience the treacherous world of war.

Eventually, he and a few other children reached Waat, a small town located in Nyirol County. It was here where he met McCune and her husband, Riek Machar, a South-Sudanese politician. She adopted Jal and smuggled him to Kenya where he could attend school in Nairobi.

However, after a few months, McCune and her unborn child died in a road accident, causing Jal to face adversity once again. Despite her death, friends of the couple (Madeleine Bunting and Anna Ledgard) helped Jal to continue his studies, but Machar no longer wanted Jal to remain living under his roof and so he was cast out once again to live a life in the slums.

Eventually, he ended up staying in Kileleshwa, located in Nairobi, with other refugees, where he made friends and continued his studies, attending Arboretum Sixth Form College.

Despite having gone through a horrific series of events, and without a family to help, support and guide him, Jal had several hands held out to him along the way – Emma McCune, Madeleine Bunting, Anna Ledgard and the subsequent friends he made.

It’s important to realise that often, we need to talk to each other. There will always be someone around who will be more than willing to help you kick adversity to the ground. Whether they give you a sofa to sleep on, a shoulder to cry on or a moment out of their day so that you can confide in them, you won’t be short of people you can count on to help you through tough times. So, don’t be afraid to reach out.


When overcoming adversity, maintaining the very practices that help us to gradually stand up to it, is paramount. It takes discipline and self control to continually encompass determination, organisation, positivity and trust. When all of these factors are consistently applied to everyday life, one will see a magnificent improvement in their thought processes, how they generally feel and their relationships with others. This helps us to grow.

Our YouTube interview with Emmanuel Jal

To hear more from Emmanuel Jal, including information about his business success, mental health and his ‘My Life is Art’ project, watch the video below. He provides a powerful insight into how he overcame some of the worst times, making for a highly inspirational interview.

Here at Kruger Cowne, we represent a number of news, world affairs and political speakers, including Emmanuel Jal. Through the use of our influential speakers, you can develop invaluable relationships and attract brand new audiences, thus strengthening the popularity, trust and identity of your brand. To find the right voice for your needs, get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team today – we’re always happy to help.

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