How Do You Overcome Adversity?

“It’s a matter of pride at this point.”

That’s what my boss said when we tried fixing the lawn trimmer. At the age of 16, my first job was working at a driving range. As a golf enthusiast, it was a dream job.

Part of my responsibilities included trimming the overgrown grass around the netting. One day the trimmer got tangled. The plastic line was lodged in the spindle, so we took apart the trimmer head. We were working on the trimmer for ten minutes and nothing happened. Another ten minutes and it still wasn’t fixed. It was annoying and my shift ended twenty minutes prior. I told my boss, “We can just do this tomorrow before we open.” And he said, “We’re going to fix it now. It’s a matter of pride at this point.”

Reflecting on that moment 23 years later, it was a great lesson in overcoming adversity. How we manage the tiniest difficulty is an indicator of how we’ll manage the big ones.

Most people overcome adversity, eventually. The problem is, people expend unnecessary energy overcoming adversity. Complaining, procrastinating, or indulging in self-pity all waste time and energy. None of these activities help you overcome your struggle. What if you channeled the wasted time and energy in a more positive way? You can build resilience by redirecting wasted energy and effort.

Resilience is the most important factor of success. Resilience is not a trait that we naturally inherit; resilience is learned. Resilience is like a muscle. The more we work that muscle the stronger it becomes. You can build your mental resilience through steady conditioning. Here are a few ideas to train your resiliency muscle.

View adversity as an opponent rather than an obstacle. Back to the opening story. As my boss and I were fixing the trimmer, he could sense my frustration. I was annoyed. It was quitting time and all I wanted to do was go hang out with my friends. He said to me, “Are you really going to let the trimmer win?” That simple comment tapped into my competitive spirit. There was no way I would let that trimmer win. What if you viewed your adversity as an opponent? Good competitors make you better. And there is no greater competitor than adversity.

Track your first response to adversity. You experience adversity—minor or major—every day. What is your immediate response? Do you complain? Do you feel sorry for yourself? Your immediate response is an indicator of your resilience. For the next week, create an adversity log. Monitor your adverse moments and note your response. Adverse moments can range from completing a bothersome task to major loss. As you experience various adverse moments, track your response. Tracking raises your self-awareness. You will begin self-correcting and stop wasting energy.

Stop procrastinating. Procrastination is a close cousin to complaining. When faced with a bothersome task or difficult situation, how do you respond? The pain of procrastination is like interest on a loan; it compounds daily. The longer you procrastinate, the more painful it becomes. In the opening story, I was ready to procrastinate the problem until the next day. However, waiting until the next day would create a domino effect of other issues and even more annoyance. Think of how often we delay what we deem as too bothersome. You know that you will eventually complete the task, why not do it now?

Whether big or small, you face adversity every single day. These adverse moments are opportunities to build resilience. Changing how you view difficult moments influences how you respond. Resilience, like the muscles in your body, requires steady conditioning to grow. Every day, you will face adversity. It’s your choice whether you go through it or grow through it.



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