Look around you, there isn't a single person you know who hasn't faced some challenge(s) in their lifetime. It may be a bully at school or in the office. It may be someone badgering you because of your beliefs. It may be just the aches and pains of growing older. In today's economic crisis it may be unemployment, foreclosure, or the income isn't enough to cover the expenses. Whatever it is in your life, someone has got it just as bad - or worse. How do we face that something like that? How do we face that adversity in a way that can actually benefit us?
I'm sure you've heard the story of the two shoe salesmen who landed at a remote location where the locals didn't wear shoes. One saw it as a waste of time and got back on the boat and returned home. The other called back and said send all the shoes you have.
The point about this Rule for Success is - are you prepared - mentally prepared? What is your perspective of the adversities you face? How will you choose to deal with the adversity in your life? Maybe you're like me. Suddenly, bursting into your life, there it is adversity that you've never experienced before. You're wondering, what now? First of all, have the attitude that you expect adversity to come; and when it comes, you're not surprised.
One of the very first choices I make is that I accept the fact that adversity comes to everybody and it's not always a sign that there's something wrong with me or my life. Get over yourself, you're not a victim. This in itself is a huge first step. It's foundational. It sets the stage for all the subsequent choices you make.
Another attitude we need to bring to adversity table is to see it as an opportunity - embrace it. As the saying goes, when given lemons make lemonade. There are plenty of feel good stories where, during economic downturns, people who lose their jobs, file for bankruptcy, or lose their homes and come out the other side with greater financial success and /or a happier life as a result of starting a business, a new career, or getting a better job.
As I write this week’s rule, it occurs to me that extraordinary success actually requires adversity. It sounds weird, but it's true. I don't think it should surprise us that expecting and subsequently accepting adversity comes as a process, that it's not something that you turn on and turn off. But here's the thing: Self-awareness is in the process. Being self-aware is a way of getting to know adversity. But, there's still a little more to this attitude of acceptance.
Let me suggest a third attitude that you need to bring to the table. When faced with adversity, don't expect an answer to the question, "Why me?" If you are like I am, the first thing you want answered when something goes wrong in your life is why. Why me, Lord? Isn't that true? It's the common, normal, natural think to ask. When you have an automobile accident, you ask, Why me? When the boss hands you a pink slip and says, "It's nothing personal," you say, Why me? When the bank is knocking on your door asking for the keys, you say, "Why me?" It's common. That's a normal action. Consider this; if you expect someone else to explain everything that goes wrong in your life, you're going to be sorely disappointed.
Another attitude we bring to adversity is surely the attitude of courage, the courage to face adversity in a way that will lead to greater success--whether that adversity is loss, hurt, damage, or any other kind of adversity. I say courage because, generally, adversity is not seen as something that brings blessings; it's seen as something that brings pain. For success minded individuals who watch for and experience adversity for themselves, they can see the benefits. Not everyone is going to understand this, do you?
In the bible Romans 5:3-4, Apostle Paul says, "We can also rejoice when we run into problems, trials and tribulations, for we know they're good for us, that they help us to learn to endure, and endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our expectation of hope". Life brings adversity to us in such a way that it also brings character. If I could say one thing to you today, it would be this: You don't have to fear adversity. You don't have to welcome it, but you don't have to fear it as long as you bring the attitudes to adversities that are attitudes found in successful thinking. When you do that, you face adversity as an opportunity, not as something to be dreaded or feared.
My wish for you is that whatever you're facing today will not overwhelm you but will show you the gift that is given to you in adversity can be used to bring you not only great success and happiness in yourself but for you to know how to use it to help someone else.
Here at LDI, we want to find out more about the success process associated with adversity. So our research team at Leader Development Institute (me) has decided to interview the experts on success - you. You're one of those experts. We want you to share your experiences on how you turned adversity into success.
Associated Rules and Tools: These rules and tools do not stand alone. You cannot apply them independently. You cannot just pick and choose the ones you like. Revisit these tools and see how they relate. Don't have past Rules and Tools? Download them here.
Success Rule Number 4 -Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life.
Success Rule Number 15 - Be Proactive
Success Rule Number 17 - Know Thyself
Success Tool Number 19b - Skip and Google Your Brain
Success Rule Number 21 - Don't Whine
Success Rule Number 22 - Be Cheerful
Founder & CEO
Leader Development Institute