When you are faced with adversity you always have a choice. A choice to give in or press on. A choice to accept your new reality or strive for something different. If you are anything like most leaders I know, giving up is not an option. When life hits you hard, you want to strike back.
Experience has taught me that when you decide to live life on purpose and with conviction you are going to consistently face opposition and adversity. It will take many different forms like harsh criticism, unexpected change, and probably the most difficult form, complete failure of your plans. I have found it is in these moments when your belief system becomes fully exposed. Your character goes on display. Your mindset is revealed and at the deepest level of your soul you make a decision as to what you believe about yourself.
You either embrace your calling and purpose - steel your spine and belief in that you have something to offer those you love and serve or you shrink back and succumb to your circumstances. You either listen to the voice of truth that reminds you of your vision and mission or you are deceived when you hear the world say, “It’s not worth it - you need to stop - you are not good enough anyway.”
You may not be able to control everything the world throws at you, but you are able to control your response. Here are five steps to take when you find yourself faced with adversity:
- Recommit To Your Vision - Often adversity causes you to question your dreams, big goals, and vision. You may find yourself asking, "Am I still headed in the right direction?" or "Is this all worth it?". Dedicate time away from home and work to review the key elements of your vision. Doing so will help you remember the exciting passion and purpose you had when you wrote out your envisioned future. As you look at each element, recommit to your vision and update it if necessary.
- Adjust Your Plans - Adversity can come from facing a new reality in life or business. A new reality may require new plans, new short-term goals, disciplines, and projects. Look at the next twelve months and determine if your plan is still relevant and actionable. If not, then don't give up, instead adjust. Ask yourself, what should I keep in the plan, remove in the plan, and replace in the plan. Adversity requires you to be "flexible" with your plans and tactics. Make sure any plan you adjust still aligns with your vision.
- Focus on a Growth Mindset - Learning from failure and adversity is one of the key characteristics of successful leaders that experience long-term success. Ask yourself, "What am I learning from this adversity?", "What weakness has it revealed in my leadership style", "Where do I need to grow and develop my skills?" Focus on your disciplines, behaviors, and actions that when done consistently will lead to success. Ask yourself, "What behaviors do I need to keep, stop, or start doing to get through this adversity?" I highly recommend you journal your thoughts, feelings, and experiences during this time as well. Journaling can be therapeutic for your mind and soul as you work through the adversity. It will also provide you with a historical account of how you handled the adversity which you can use in the future or share with someone else.
- Engage Your Priorities - One of the unintended consequences of adversity is that you will find yourself spending less time on your key priorities and more time thinking about and dealing with the adversity. To counter this potential negative impact you need to increase your engagement level with your key priorities. This means focusing more intently on working out and eating right, spending time with loved ones, and taking actions that help you be healthy in all areas of life. Don't let adversity take complete control of your life. Live with purpose no matter what your external circumstances.
- Seek Wise Counsel - Keep reminding yourself that you are not alone. Others have experienced all different types of adversity. Seek wise counsel from someone you trust - perhaps a mentor, your coach, a pastor, or close friend. The most important part of this step is that you share this experience with someone that believes in you, knows your vision, and will encourage you as you go through this season of life.
At some point in your career and life you will experience adversity. You will be faced with a choice to give up or press on. Don't just try to "get through it". Be proactive and follow these five steps. You will be glad you did.
Make it a great day!