How to deal with adversity?

We often encounter disruptive situations in our personal and professional lives such as a divorce, the death of a loved one, illness, the loss of a favorite customer, the departure of a valued employee, a shortage of funds, or even a lawsuit. Successful business leaders — or people in general — don’t give up when adversity strikes. They find the ways and means to carry on.

Sometimes, it takes a trip to hell and back to really open your eyes. And sometimes, really opening your eyes can change your whole life. If you’re an entrepreneur, that means it also changes the way you see your job — running the company you started.

The most resilient, impressive leaders I know have found ways to be courageous in the face of great adversity; life challenges lift them up instead of knock them down. Here are their techniques:

1. I wonder, what will this teach me?

In the year 1648, poet Robert Herrick wrote in Hesperides, “If little labour, little our gains: Man’s fate is according to his pains.” In 1982, actress Jane Fonda and the exercise company Soloflex simplified this message with: “No pain, no gain.”

How do they convert pain into personal value?

First, they understand that pain is always a temporary condition and an opportunity to learn. They ask questions like, “How did I get here?” and “What caused this to happen?” They choose curiosity over self-pity or anger.

Then they generously share their learning and experience with their friends. They commit to making the most of the opportunity for themselves and others. The next time you’re faced with a particularly brutal challenge, ask yourself what you may learn from it.

2. Reinvent your future—constantly.

Choice is the enemy of fear. When you have choices, you don’t feel trapped by your circumstances. We all have plenty of choices, but the most resilient leaders are masters at reminding themselves of this fact in the face of adversity.

When you are faced with a seemingly horrible situation, start by answering these questions:

What is the outcome I most want?
What other outcomes would be good as well?
What stands in my way from making these outcomes happen?
Who do I know that has overcome similar obstacles to those that stand in my way?
3. Don’t get furious; get humorously curious.

Humor helps you think more broadly and creatively. It is absolutely essential for the best problem solving, so work not to take yourself, or your situation, too seriously.

I am no different and have faced adversity. Whilst there were many key factors that helped me deal with this adversity, no factor was more compelling then my sense of purpose and mission for what I wanted to achieve. No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse. So the key is to work out possible ways around the situation. My mentor’s advice to me is to focus and work towards that outcome rather than wallow in self pity or fear. Be rational and keep calm. The great thing about adversity is that with every trial or hardship that you go through, there is a lesson to be learned and an opportunity to be discovered. We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

The post is dedicated to E.

Check out my related post:

What would you do if you are being disrupted?

Interesting reads:


    • Agree. It’s the little and simple things in life that we gloss by when the wind is in our sails. The trick is that you can to make it back in one piece. It’s a mental challenge. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.


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