Overcoming adversity might seem like an ill-chosen topic in the gleam of a shiny new year. Right now, many of us are full of optimism and fresh resolve, expecting to have the greatest year of our life. But here’s what I know will happen very soon: unexpected adversity will strike. Maybe your car transmission goes out, or the hot water heater dies, or your best client that was going to be with you for life walked off. You have no control over those situations.
Does adversity build character?
The one constant in our lives is change, often in the form of adversity. It will either make us bitter or make us better. I’ve read self-help books saying that adversity will build your character, but I disagree. Adversity reveals and defines your character. The measure of a person’s character is what it takes to stop you, distract you, or get you off course.
Here’s what I know about the first 90 days of 2018: no matter how well you’ve set goals and made plans, everybody reading this article will face a challenge of some type. That’s just the way life is. But failure is not a person, it’s an event. Failure is something that happens to you – it has nothing to do with who you are. There are three possible stances with regard to adversity: you’re either in it right now, coming out of it, or about to go through it. Do you have a process to handle it?
Develop a process for dealing with adversity.
People don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan. Keep reading to find a few suggestions for your plan to overcome adversity in 2018.
Processes overcome emotion
Are you aware of how your emotions are driving some of your choices? Dawn developed a powerful training for our Behavioral Studies Institute. She teaches that when you’re under stress and going through adversity, everyone needs to employ different ways to re-energize. For some people, it might be watching a British detective story. Others reboot by relaxing with a good book. Personally, I recharge by dialing the phone more, because my behavior style craves control, and my work ethic is the one thing under my control.
I was watching Les Brown this morning and he said something really profound: “Learn to discipline your emotion.”
Think about that. Do you have control over your emotions? People think I’m bullet-proof, but I’m not. I have feelings, but I have learned to discipline my emotion. On the other side of struggle is a great victory.
TIP – How to gain control over adversity through self-awareness and self-management. This control is known as “emotional intelligence”. According to Bradberry and Greaves, “Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.”
Emotional intelligence has a great impact upon professional success. TalentSmart tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that it is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs. In fact, 90% of all top performers have a high degree of emotional intelligence.
We recommend the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Bradberry & Greaves.
Entrepreneur or employee?
Do you have employer or employee mentality? When I was a kid in New Jersey, I remember hearing about Blue Laws, which allowed businesses to open on Sunday afternoon. The entrepreneurs were all excited. However, now it seems that many entrepreneurs have adopted an employee mindset, which is a “clock in at 9, go home at 5, take nights and weekends off” mentality. Employees believe, “My time off is my time.” On the other hand, entrepreneurs make as much of their 24 hours as they can, no matter what time of day or how long it takes.
We teach participants at our speaker’s school how to monetize their knowledge and become speakers and trainers. However, anyone who is in business for themselves needs to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset in order to succeed. This means being willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes. Not everyone can make the adjustment from employee to entrepreneur. It requires a genuine shift in focus.
TIP: How entrepreneurs overcome adversity. Again, we see a different mindset here. Jayson DeMers sees two differences between the entrepreneurial and employee mindsets:
- Entrepreneurs understand that everything requires effort. Entrepreneurship is multifaceted and constantly demanding, and there’s no shortage of pitfalls that could disrupt or destroy their business. They are pouring effort into their business at every opportunity, and when they reach one goal, they’re already busy planning another.
- They are not discouraged as often by challenges. Entrepreneurs view challenges as opportunities. Most people react to setbacks with stress and pessimism that only hinders progress. Business owners encounter so many challenges that they simply can’t afford to react this way.
“He that is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else” Benjamin Franklin
Do you make excuses? Many years ago, I took a football coaching job at a school where the team had never won a game. The reason was that the previous coaches had said, “Men, we’re underdogs. The teams we are playing are much better than we are.” But I knew that if you give people a reason to fail, they do! If you give them an excuse, they’ll use it. So when I took over, I wrote on the locker room mirror, “Never make an excuse.” Therefore, before every game, I’d say, “If we lose this game, it’s an upset. I don’t care what the newspapers say, we’re supposed to win this game.” To this day, those are still the winningest seasons in that school’s history, because we went into each game with a stronger mindset.
Are you in the habit of playing the “blame game”? Blame is a “backdoor method” for making an excuse. Don’t blame other people when things go wrong. At the end of the day, blame costs you time and money. Amway co-founder Rich Devos described four levels of business decline:
1. Creative stage.
This happens early on, before the decline. You’re building and experiencing success.
You manage your employees, your clients, and your team. But when you manage, you’re not growing.
3. Defending lack of growth
I’ve heard this from clients: “You don’t understand. It was a holiday and nobody was picking up the phone.” My response: “You’re right. I don’t understand. Nobody was picking up for me, either, so I just made more calls.”
4. Blame game
This is the most dangerous level, when your business is seconds away from totally imploding and dying, and you feel like it’s somebody else’s fault. But that isn’t true. It’s never somebody else’s fault. You have to be responsible for where you’re going. There’s nobody to blame. You either get it done or you don’t.
TIP: How to stop making excuses. Take responsibility for yourself. Adam Sicinski shares great insights on excuses – why we make them and how to break the habit:
- Avoid comparing yourself to others. Compete with yourself. Focus on areas of your life and career where you have improved in some way.
- Forgive your past mistakes and failures. Learn from them and move on.
- Focus on solutions. Your brain can either be engaged in forward, solution-based thinking or on current problems. It cannot overcome adversity when overwhelmed by negative energy. Consider your strengths. Realize that to overcome adversity requires confidence, patience, persistence, optimism, and a preplanned process.
So it’s 2018. You’ve got your business plan, your leads, your goals, your optimism, and enthusiasm, but do you have the methodology in your toolbox for when bad things happen? Are you going to fight through it? Will you go through it to get to it?