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Turning Suffering Into Your Super-Power

Written by: Sarah "Sharky" Harkness, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Every person in the world faces adversity. Along with taxes and death, this is a certainty. Your days begin with adversity when you have a chronic and life-limiting illness or disability. Each morning, I roll out of bed with a handful of medicines, monitoring everything from my blood glucose to my heart rate with gadgets and hand-held devices. The cane I use to walk is inconvenient for me, and I am not tolerant of exercise. Even before the day begins, I'm suffering. In addition to chronic pain, I am rarely in homeostasis, and I supplement my diet with palliative medicine and strong supplements. The good news is that I cannot complain. Let me explain...

All of us will face adversity and death at some point in our lives. Whether you're rich or poor, a city dweller or a farmer, whether you went to school or not, you'll face challenges at some point in your life. There are some challenges that will test our character, while others will test our willpower, strength, or resilience. Challenges that come our way either perpetuate themselves (thanks to subconsciousness), or are caused by circumstances beyond our control (macroeconomics, recession, pandemic). It is by definition difficult or unpleasant to face adversity.

The Oxford Languages website describes resilience as the ability to overcome adversity.

It is almost impossible to balance a career and care as a mother and CEO. Add to that a few brushes with death and years of health dramas (seizures, strokes, surgeries, shunts) and one might conclude that adversity is trying to tell me something. It is, I assure you. We are sent suffering and challenges to help us learn resilience. Despite how challenging life may feel right now, our future lies in what lies ahead. While suffering only once through pain is usually more than enough, the question is not whether we embrace adversity with smiling faces and open arms today. We need to ask ourselves, what are we willing to do while facing these challenges?

During times of insurmountable obstacles, we can find our inner strength and find the key to living an abundant and fulfilling life. There is a subtle shift in consciousness, not a big change, but it requires all your strength. A strong and steady mindset with a north star of love, self-compassion, and hope is the key. Whatever the situation may be at the time, no matter how hard it may seem or even try its hardest to break us, ultimately it is up to us whether we let it take us down.

The universe sends us challenges to test our strength, will, and how far we can go before we give up. However, if we do not, then on the other side of that suffering, there is another chapter to your story, one you can choose to write.

I've chosen to use everything I've learned as data points. In my career as a CEO of a global revenue optimization agency, we have always encouraged our clients to improve and learn from their challenges. Our lives are no different. The choice is ours as humans when we are put on the line to reach deep within. Get your grit on and dig in? Alternatively, we can suffer twice by overthinking, overidentifying with our suffering, blaming others, and becoming a victim. This, of course, creates a self-perpetuating reality.

For you to turn your challenges into opportunities, here are 7 things you can do:

  1. Develop self-compassion (one of the hardest things to do)

  2. Find ultimate authenticity in yourself, and seek it out in others

  3. Decide what defines you, is what you're experiencing right now who you are? (Usually, the answer to this question is no.)

  4. Take care of your allies and celebrate them

  5. There's no need to suffer alone.

  6. The courage to be vulnerable creates connection, and you'll find your tribe if you do

  7. You possess a bright light within you, so visualize it and nurture it

It is up to you which doors you walk through. The extent to which you live or die can even be determined to a certain degree by you. It's true. During May of 2022, I collapsed with metabolic acidosis paralysis and almost went into a coma. Despite not being able to move or open my eyes, I was still able to hear. There was a choice to be made, as my husband Luke stood beside me, reminding me of the children and encouraging me to hang in there. As my breathing became erratic, I could feel myself slipping away... He mentioned the names of my children, and it was then that I realized what was going on. Through my deepest self, I made the decision to live. This is why I'm confident you can. Make your choice. It is up to you to choose life, to choose living, to choose your reality. The human race is not superhuman, we are not able to control everything that happens to us. There is, however, a choice between fighting and surrendering. It is up to us to choose our mindset. It's that simple.

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Sarah "Sharky" Harkness, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Sarah began her career at in the sales development team, when there were 40 people in the Sydney office and half a floor. It was here that she began her RevOps career learning from the ground up and developing the demand generation model of the largest SaaS provider in the world. From there (after 10 years), she continued to add to her RevOps expertise by joining Marketo in Australia pre-ipo leading the commercial sales team and managing the NZ country region. She then joined Dropbox for Business in the Enterprise APAC team and led the APAC sales and gtm strategy for GitLab pre-IPO reporting to the CRO. Co-founding Cattle Dog in 2015 with Luke and Nas, she has grown the RevOps and Growth GotoMarket services organisation to support hundreds of high-tech and digital customers globally. Working with the likes of, Falkon, Nirmata, JB Hifi and Conga, Sarah has helped SaaS and B2B businesses create and accelerate their growth and refine their RevOps strategies and technology. With board experience in her own business as the CEO and co-founder, along with non-profits she spends her spare time coaching and mentoring others in their careers, businesses and creating new go-to-market strategies aligned with driving cost out and increasing revenue. Always looking for where the revenue could be leaking, Sarah is a visionary and solutions mind participating and leading in communities all around the world including: Peter Diamondis’ A360 Singularity Executive community, The Entourage (Aus), RevOps Collective, Pavilion, RevGenius and Women in Revenue.


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