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Nothing Great Happens Without Adversity

Mar 18th, 2020 • Andrea Butcher

So, your life is moving along smoothly – the wind is at your back, you’re getting accolades for your work and you are armed and ready to lead that next big project. But then comes that moment – you know – the one where you feel like everything that you have gained is suddenly gone. You are blindsided by the news that the relationship is over, the “newbie” got the promotion, or the company is restructuring and you no longer have a job.

I was once told that “life happens.” I was experiencing a difficult situation in my life and the phrase cut me to the core. It also made me realize that I am not immune to adversity – no one is.  But how we handle difficult situations is what defines our future.

Episode 24 of Being [at Work] featured Scott Miller, President of Bowman Construction, who shared a time when he went through a difficult situation. Says Scott, “I was crushed and could feel anger and all the different emotions. I thought I had a part in building something amazing. But it taught me that no matter what, I’m not the one in control. From my perspective, there are always unique opportunities ahead of you, even when something bad takes place.” And a unique opportunity did come his way which led to even richer and more rewarding experiences. His adverse “moment” ended up being a blessing in disguise.

So, what can you do when you are faced with the unexpected moment?  Here are some strategies from Scott that may give you an edge:

  1. Respond, don’t react.  Your emotions are running high and you feel devastated.  Step back, take a breath and try to remain positive. Tell yourself that there’s a bigger picture at play here and things will work out.
  2. Take time to grieve. It’s ok to feel sad, maybe even a bit sorry for yourself – but don’t stay there! A favorite quote of mine is from The Shawshank Redemption and says, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” So, get out there, get moving and don’t wallow!
  3. Keep a positive attitude. This is not always easy to do but speaking positively about people in your past will more than likely reap positive rewards.
  4. Be persistent and don’t give up.  Remember the little ole’ ant.
  5. Get a mentor.  This should be someone you trust and with whom you are willing to share not only your successes but your failures.  How we handle our failures greatly impacts our future direction. In his podcast episode, Scott also shares some great tips on how to find a mentor.

None of us knows how we will react in the moment – we have to experience it. And it will happen, probably more than once. Each difficult situation that you work through will not only hone your leadership skills but will give others the confidence to follow you. And that’s worth it.

To hear more insightful leadership conversations, be sure to subscribe to Being [at Work] wherever you get your podcasts.