Learning to Embrace Adversity

Have you been more self-aware when you are in “Actor vs. Reactor” mode? If you didn’t have the time to develop some helpful strategies during those “reactor” times, I encourage you to do so. If the only change you make is moving from reactor to actor, it would dramatically change your world.

As part four of our five-part weekly series we are going to discuss how effective leaders relate to adversity.

Often times we look at leaders we deem to be “successful” and forget that we are looking at a moment in time and not the entire journey. More times than not, these individuals encountered many bumps along the road before achieving their success. Because difficulty and hardships are not pleasant experiences we prefer not to recognize what an important component they are in driving that success.

One of my favorite stories is the story of Soichiro Honda. Soichiro epitomized the ability to maintain a vision while at the same time the flexibility necessary to achieve tremendous success.

Great leaders understand that “adversity” is not necessarily a bad thing and in fact needs to be embraced. They have come to realize that each adversity also includes the seed of opportunity. It is when we hold too tightly and personally to what “must” occur that we are unable to see the inherent opportunity.

One of the primary causes of pushing against adversity, especially in the workplace, is fear. Sometimes masked as ego (the symptom) - the root cause is really fear. I know many times in my life I expected myself to be an expert at something I had never done.

So how do we begin to appreciate adversity? The first thing is that we do not take adversity personally. We start to see that adversity is simply a message. It is telling us that perhaps this is a dead end and we need to re-route. Maybe there is danger ahead or, possibly, it simply will not take us to the desired destination.

It may take time and patience to move to a place of embracing adversity, so we start with discontinuing the habit of pushing against the experience. Once we stop pushing and change our prospective from fear to curiosity we can then ask the question “what is this experience trying to tell me?”

This week notice how you feel when adversity shows up. Take the time to be intentional about how you will approach the experience. If you need a little inspiration read the story of Soichiro Honda or another leader you admire. You will better understand that the path to success is not typically a smooth straight line.

Visit www.centerforleadershaping.com to join our mailing list or contact me with any questions. You can also sign up to receive next week’s Weekly Workout where we will cover Step 5 of becoming an effective leader.