Life is full of adversity, and how you embrace that adversity will determine the quality of your life. I believe this mindset applies to both your personal and professional lives. After all, how you handle challenges and obstacles personally translates to how you’re able to handle adversity at work too. But here’s the challenge: many people don’t see adversity in a positive light. In fact, most see adversity as a sign that the odds are stacked against them or that the world is out to get them. Yet, when the most resilient and impressive leaders I have known are faced with adversity, they all ask, “What is the gift?” And they figuratively hug the thunderstorms of their life. These leaders don’t let adversity push them down. They take it as a learning experience.
From Adversity to Breakthroughs
Dealing with adversity can become a very positive and a development-rich experience that leads to breakthroughs in growth and performance. I’ve experienced this and witnessed it countless times. The leaders who have dealt with adversity successfully found a way to avoid the victim route of getting bitter when a storm hits, and instead see adversity as the catalyst to getting better. They seem to have a mindset that without adversity, they couldn’t improve as much as they could with it!
This makes a lot of sense when you think about it, as humans often avoid change. It’s in our nature—how our brains are wired. We often get comfortable with something, whether that is a strategy, technology, or team hierarchy, and we stick with it. We fear the unknown, so we avoid change for the comfort of the status quo. However, change is a critical part of evolving and improving—businesses can’t sustain success if they avoid it—and sometimes adversity is the catalyst we need to make change happen.
Change, Choice, Consequence
Root is about to launch a new Leading Change experience that starts with establishing a resilient mindset for change and adversity. As Greek philosopher Epictetus put it, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” And that is the premise for this new experience. We want to empower professionals to view challenges as opportunities to make changes that will lead to greater rewards. The mindset for seeing change and adversity as engines for growth is called Change, Choice, Consequence. Embracing this way of thinking is paramount to overcoming challenges instead of, as discussed above, seeing them as unfair roadblocks that begin a downward spiral of negative thoughts and reflections.
We often do not control the change and adversity that happen in our lives, but we always have the freedom to choose how we respond to people, events, and circumstances. Because we always control our choice, we also always own the consequence. What ultimately happens to us in the face of any change is always determined by the beliefs, thoughts, attitude, and words we bring to the change. It is critical that we each accept the role our choice plays in the consequence we experience. It is truly up to us.
Adopting a Change, Choice, Consequence mindset isn’t always easy or natural. But there are tactics we can use to make it a more natural way of thinking, and it begins with a series of questions we should ask ourselves when faced with a new change or adversity.
7 Questions to Help Overcome Adversity
What really matters when considering your choice in the face of any change or adversity is asking yourself these key questions:
- What is the true gift for my growth in this adversity, and what does it teach me about myself that I am now ready to hear?
- What stories am I telling myself about this change or adversity? Does my self-talk focus on the fear or the opportunity?
- Why is this exact adversity perfect for my development right now?
- What is the positive light about what I am experiencing that could be the key ingredient for my growth?
- What is the new beginning this adversity could usher in for me?
- How can I turn things around and take full advantage of this situation?
- What doors and windows of opportunity does this adversity present for me that I wasn’t previously aware of?
While welcoming adversity might feel counterintuitive and against how most human brains are wired, the benefits are huge. By challenging our status quo and ourselves, we are able to push forward to see our next goal or come up with a new idea we wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to see. The toughest moments of our lives can also be the greatest. Pushing beyond our comfort zones is when we learn—these moments are a gift!
So, I challenge you: the next time you’re facing what you would normally consider an undesirable and unexpected problem, try hugging that thunderstorm of adversity. Odds are, you’re about to see your personal growth skyrocket.