-Get clear on what aspects of a difficult situation bother you most.
(reprint from Authentic Success newsletter)
A simple definition of adversity is anything that is not the way we want it to be. Because we all have different desires for what makes a successful and happy life, adversity and resilience, look different for each one of us.
When adversity hits, most of us try to change the unfavorable outer circumstances. However, the most effective way to deal with adversity is to change how we deal with what irritates, frustrates or angers us. To do that, we must get clear with how we approach adversity in the first place.
Without this kind of clarity, we are blind to our runaway thoughts and emotions and make the adversity much harder to overcome. With clarity, we can see more positive and productive ways to deal with it. When we become proficient, we will see adversity as a stepping stone, not an obstacle, to creating more of the success and happiness we want.
Dr. Paul Stoltz is a resilience expert, creator of the Adversity Quotient and author of the book, The Adversity Advantage. He is considered the world’s leading authority on the integration and application of grit and resilience.
The Adversity Quotient is a score that measures a person’s perceived ability to handle adversity based on four dimensions we will explore. Looking at our adversity through the lens of these four dimensions helps us understand how we currently handle adversity and how we can do better. It is important to note that Stolz’s work focuses on how we perceive our ability to handle adversity, not the truth of our ability.
When the pandemic hit last year and social distancing and lockdowns became a reality for the long term, I saw my thriving in-person workshops and seminars business plummet. This change was not what I wanted after working hard to create this revenue stream for my coaching company.
At first, I felt the feelings that many people did; anger and upset at the economic disruption and continuously changing information. Those who got sick from the virus or had loved ones impacted surged with fear and dread as their expectations for good health were crushed. Others immediately felt resilient and jumped into action to find ways to help themselves and others move through the pandemic as successfully as possible.
Four dimensions of adversity.
We all react to the same adversity differently depending on how we perceive our ability to handle it in these four dimensions:
Control: the extent to which we believe we can influence what happens next in this situation.
Reach: the extent to which we believe this situation will impact other areas of our life.
Endurance: the length of time we believe this situation will last.
Ownership: the likelihood that we will take action to improve this situation, regardless of formal responsibilities.
To better understand how I and others handled the adversity, I created four questions to answer on a scale of 1-10 for greater accuracy and room to grow. Here are the questions.
How much control do I believe I have over this situation?
How much do I let this situation impact other areas of my life?
1-not at all….10 a lot
How long do I believe this situation will it last?
How willing am I to take action?
1-not willing….10-very willing
The resulting clarity.
When I answered these questions regarding the pandemic, I noticed that my troublesome areas were control and endurance. I seemed to be able to contain the adversity to just my business life and had a high degree of willingness to take action. However, I scored low on my perceived ability to control the situation and belief in how long it would last.
Understanding this helped me focus my energies on what I could control and deal with the uncertainty of the pandemic’s length. This ability to pinpoint what was most difficult for me was enormously helpful in moving through the situation with more grace, ease and eventual success.
As the months dragged on, it was evident that no one had control over the pandemic’s length or impact. There were too many unknowns and too many conflicting opinions. This sobering reality reminded me that waiting for others to give me permission to take control of the situation would be disempowering.
I decided that I would take control of my actions and reactions to an uncontrollable situation. I would try online delivery of my workshops and free leadership discussions to those struggling with unprecedented business challenges. There were some hits and some misses that I was able to learn from. In the end, it did not matter so much that I could not control the pandemic, I could control my response to it.
Additionally, in the dimension of endurance, I realized that I had a predisposition to think that things will last forever. If I was not careful, I could fall prey to the idea that an unfavorable situation was permanent. As soon as I saw this tendency, I realized how harmful it was for me to continue.
To counteract this, each day, I looked for signs that things were indeed changing for the better. Even before the vaccine, this one change of attitude altered the trajectory of my business. I began to see new opportunities and created new connections.
Adversity is a common experience every human being experiences. As long we are alive, things will not go as planned or as we like it. But we can adapt positively. That is what resilience is all about. We can take what we perceive to be wrong, understand what frightens us about it and focus our energy there. In the end, we grow stronger, wiser and ultimately more compassionate with ourselves and others.
As we learn to endure adversity successfully, we create the resilience and wisdom to help others succeed. I can’t think of anything more worthwhile than that.
Work Your Inner Genius.
1. What adversity are you facing? In what area of your life are things not going the way you want them to be?
2. Answer the four questions above on a scale from 1-10. What areas are you strong in? What areas are you weak in?
3. In the areas you are weak in, what can you do to gain some strength? How could you see or do things differently that would move you up the scale closer to a 10?
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