Adversity is all around us and it takes many forms. The economy, an automobile accident, money problems, an illness or a death of a loved one are all common occurrences. Many of the adverse situations we will deal with in our lives and businesses are out of our control. What we can control, however, is our reaction to the adversity we face.
A major turning point in my life and business was in 1988 when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and was told that I would be in a wheelchair or dead within 10 years. (To read more about my story, go to www.myintothenightbook.com). The challenges in this adversity were many. The situation attacked every part of my life. It wasn’t just the physical but also the mental, spiritual, relationships and my business endeavors. What could have been the worst day in my life has become my biggest blessing and I would like to share here briefly what I learned.
First, having adversity in our lives is normal. A common reaction to an adverse situation is to ask the question “why?” or “why me?” I have found through my life, and with working with my coaching clients over the years, that the answer to a “why” question is very rarely satisfying.
I do believe that asking questions is a great first step but I suggest the questions you ask give you accurate facts of the situation. An example would be ,if you have a financial crisis, it would be beneficial to know your expenses and receivables. When you have accurate facts, you can create an appropriate action plan.
Second, allow your feelings and emotions to propel you forward instead of getting you stuck. When we find ourselves in an adverse situation, it’s common to feel guilt, shame, fear and berate ourselves because we’re acting abnormally. One of my early mentors gave me a quote that put this into perspective.
“Abnormal feelings in abnormal circumstances are normal.” This short little sentence will give you the ability to gain perspective in whatever you’re facing.
Third, take control of your reaction. As you start to deal with an adversity in your life your reaction will lead to the ultimate outcome in your situation. When the doctor told me his opinion of what my life would be like, I was sad, mad and felt like I had been given a raw deal. While those emotions are very normal and I knew I had to process them, I also knew that if I allow those emotions to go inward I would get stuck and the doctor’s words would become my reality.
After the initial point where we become aware of the adverse situation, there is usually a pause where we can ask “now what?” I don’t have a ready-made answer for that question for you. I only know that it is at that moment that you have the opportunity to start taking control of your reaction.
It is my hope, when you face adversity in your life, that you will remember these three steps. I truly believe that adversity creates opportunity and that opportunity creates destinies. Life is an adventure.
Enjoy the ride!