Overcoming Adversity Part I

How do you view adversity in life? In those moments of your life where something unexpected occurs that interrupts your path, how do you normally react? What types of emotions do you feel activated when stress creeps into your daily experiences? Here is why I ask. Adversity, negative circumstances, setbacks, and stress are actually a few of life's greatest gifts!

In times of adversity and change, we really discover who we are and what we are made of.
— Howard Schultz

Over the years, I have developed a strategy to teach people how to embrace adversity. The key is to learn how to take adversity and turn it into inspiring challenges that create new opportunities. Let's get started.

Step 1: Great State

Have you ever made a bad decision or reacted harshly to a circumstance while in a bad state of mind? The answer is yes because in reality we have all had this experience. We are human, after all, and as a result, we are wired with a set of emotional patterns that can create all types of responses. We all have our mountains to climb and our attitude and approach make the difference between success or failure. 

We increase the likelihood of becoming responsive, versus reactive, if we learn to manage our personal state in a creative manner. Our goal is simple. Create a "Great State Mentality" in light of all adversity, circumstances or stressful situations. Here are three simple tips to follow.

  1. Slow down and breathe.
  2. Turn problems into a positive question.
  3. Put a solution into positive terms.

In general, business people have a tendency to rush because we believe that if we hurry we can achieve more. Here's the thing: too much speed leads to paralysis because we become overwhelmed and unable to focus.

Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.
— Paul Cummings

When you are confronted with problems and adversity you are always one great question away from success. Sit down and write out the problems you are facing and then start to ask questions about how you can overcome those hurdles. For example, if your current sales numbers are lower than your required quota the right question to ask may be "how can I increase my activity to increase my sales?" Finally, our attitude to adversity shapes our actions and ultimately our results. Put your proposed solutions into positive terms and you will be one step closer towards success.

Step 2: Mashup Moments


In that moment where adversity strikes it's truly a defining moment for you as a leader. How do you want to be perceived? Everything your people see you do speaks to your executive presence and competence. How do you hold up when the fire is hot? Our mission, at Paul Cummings University, is to help you find the stillness and resolute confidence you need in the face of your "mashup moments." Use this checklist whenever you encounter adversity.

Mental Checklist for Leaders:

  1. What am I really feeling?
  2. What will happen if I don't do what I am about to do next?
  3. What's the lesson contained in this hurdle for me and my team?
  4. How can I turn this scar into a star?
  5. What's the teachable moment this circumstance has provided me?

These powerful questions will help you change your state of mind so that you can focus on creating a positive and compelling outcome. Question the intensity and fear out of your emotions that adversity creates and you will find success.

 Stay tuned for Part 2 of our series on overcoming adversity.

Make a difference today.

— Paul

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Copyright 2017: Paul Cummings Enterprises.

Photo credit: Colin_K CC BY