From the July 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

Each of us has experienced a Moment of Truth, where an idea suddenly becomes crystal clear, and we know with uncanny certainty that new doors are opening before us. It can happen in the middle of an ordinary conversation, while reading a book or while hearing someone make a speech. Or it can happen during times of adversity, when the moment is more like a thunderbolt.

A Moment of Truth during difficult times often brings on change, but it's frequently accompanied by strength to deal with that change. These Moments of Truth are often also Moments of Opportunity.

Following is a perfect example of a Moment of Truth, from a highly successful entrepreneur:

Today, Anthony Wainwright, co-author of the book Moments of Truth: Real Stories of Life-Changing Inspiration (Signet) and vice chair at McKinney & Silver, is a huge success. But he wasn't always doing so well. When he was 29 years old, three hardships struck him at once. First, he had to have major surgery for a severe case of ileitis. Shortly thereafter, he lost his job. Then the most serious adversity struck: His second daughter was born with spina bifida and died within a year.

"I got down on my knees, and I thought 'There are only two ways to go,' " recalls Wainwright. " 'I'm either going to pull myself together, or it's the end of me.' I pulled myself together. I worked harder than ever before. But even more important, I never forgot what happened to me. From that moment on, I dedicated a portion of my life to helping other people, doing things I never would have considered if I had not been through adversity myself.

"There are now three things that help me get through adversity. One is prayer. The second is the absolute belief that tomorrow will be better than today. And the third is that I don't take things personally. If something happens to me, I don't spend time feeling sorry for myself; I figure out a way to overcome it. The winners are those who never give up."

Moments of Truth happen every day. They're not always as dramatic as the events in Wainwright's life, but they are wake-up calls. Whether your Moment of Truth comes through adversity or through a gentle reminder, remember this: The greatest entrepreneurs are like tea bags-you never know their true strength until they're in hot water.