Friday, November 1, 2019

Dealing With Adversity In Leadership

Adversity On Our Path To Leadership

    There will always come problems when we are on a path to becoming the best leader that we can be.  Adversity is generally defined as difficulties or misfortune.  I will bear this in mind when I refer to adversity, although, sometimes we relate this word to adversary which personalizes it a bit.  I will address dealing with adversaries and competitors at a different time.  I believe adversity in leadership is anything that causes you to question your ability to lead and persevere through challenges.  We must stay vigilant against adversity because it can come in many forms and cause much damage to our ambitions, goals, and future.

Identifying Adversity

    First, we must be ready to identify any adversity.  This can be troubling because adversity doesn’t always directly relate to an issue we must eliminate.  Often adversity, taken from its definition, is just that, a difficulty or a misfortune.  It is important to keep this in mind because if we follow our thought to overcoming adversity, the key technique here is to weather it, not defeat or eliminate it.  I believe there are key techniques to keeping ourselves mentally strong as leaders when faced with adversity of many types and the knowledge of them is the weapon we use to overcome adversity when faced with it. 

Techniques to Conquering Adversity

Prepare Yourself for Adversity

    Do not allow yourself to be caught off guard by the big whopping fist of adversity.  If you are living in a perfect world frolicking in a pasture of posies and believe this is the golden road of leadership, you are in for some walloping blows.  Begin your strategy for overcoming challenges and adversity by knowing now that they will come and that their flavors will be many.  Understand that they will come from the least suspecting of places taking on the least suspected of forms.  Do not live your day to day life hovering at a level of mental fatigue that is one flat tire away from your breaking point.  Strengthen yourself so that you are prepared to take a hit and not stumble backwards.

    An application of this strategy is in the knowledge rather than in the action of preparation.  This makes this strategy one of the most passive, yet important steps a leader can take in order to secure their position of leadership within themselves.  We must remember leaders aren’t titles or positions.  Leaders are people comprised of mind, body, and spirit.

Stand Your Mental Ground

    Anytime we encounter misfortune or difficulties while we are in a positive mental state, we run the risk of losing footing of where we are at mentally.  Keep in mind the best strategy to use here is to survive the storm, not eliminate the clouds.  I suggest positive affirmation or reviewing original reasons for pursuing leadership.  Revisit ambitions and dreams as you dreamt them during the initial discovery of your interest in leadership and personal success.  The goal here is to not allow this encounter with adversity to cause you to backpedal and lose mental focus.  The strength of a leader lies within their mind and their passion for leading.  Stand your ground with misfortune and remind yourself that no event can compromise the entire collective experience that defines you.

   The core of this technique has to do with understanding oneself.  In order to allow adversity to affect us negatively, we must allow it to force us into a mindset of self-doubt.  We can prevent this from happening by deepening our connection with ourselves.  Self-leadership is a topic that I am particularly fond of that I will delve into more later, but the essence of this is being a good self-motivator.  It is okay to feel brief setback when dealing with adversity.  We must identify these feelings and then begin our role as leaders of ourselves in order to stand back up exactly where we fell from and begin to take that next step forward again.

Make Your Next Move

    The best way to overcome adversity as it presents itself is to make your next move in the face of it.  Whatever you were doing at the time, take the next step.  In the former section I mention that it is very important that we do not lose our footing.  It is equally important that even if we stumble, we take our quivering leg, lift it up, and set it back down with some change in distance in front of us.  It is important here not to allow adversity to stagnate us.  Eventually with time, even leaders not well prepared for adversity will make their next move, the question involves how much time will have elapsed from the crippling blow of adversity to their next step of progress toward whatever goal that they are trying to accomplish.

    It is hard to see through the mental pain and fatigue of adversity sometimes.  Let us be honest, misfortune and difficulties can cloud our mind.  In order to see through the fog, sometimes we must discard the adverse circumstances to look past them.  We shouldn’t acquiesce to a state of total blindness, sometimes adversity has causal properties that must be addressed.  One example of this is being too focused on tasks and work and not spending enough time with family.  If family gets upset, then there is a causal circumstance to the adverse reaction of your family.  This causal circumstance may need addressed rather than ignored if we fail to properly apply this strategy.

Analyze Adversity

    The key strategy to moving past adversity here is to accurately analyze and understand it.  It is important when difficulties or misfortune are faced that we have a good grasp of why they arose in the first place.  I don’t recommend performing a full-length root cause analysis and then report on why they arose unless this is a workplace incident and your boss requires it.  I suggest that we try to determine if the adversity that we experience arose from causal circumstances, such as circumstances that had an indicated cause and the adversity became its direct effect.  When these happen, we can better understand how to move forward and implement our understanding to prevent the misfortune or difficulty from becoming a constant occurrence.

    The most troubling manifestations of adversity occur when it is spontaneous.  Spontaneous adversity is difficulty or misfortune that we as leaders or people face that arise from seemingly no causality.  If we do not identify the spontaneity here, we will find ourselves battling ourselves with trying to identify causality.  I would imagine if we looped this than we would have stumbled upon the definition of insanity or a host of other mental illnesses.  If you are experiencing spontaneous adversity, do not further exhaust your mental energy on trying to discover the “why”, just press forward and begin to apply other strategies for weathering the storm.


    We as leaders will be challenged with adversity an estimated infinite number of times.  There is no one adverse event that can stop us if we are well prepared.  The preparation to overcome adversity is within ourselves and our determination to still be who we want to be at the end of the day.  There is no type of adversity that should compromise who you are, and it is only able to do that if we allow it to by not preparing ourselves to encounter it.  Counter to this, if we are ill prepared to face adverse situations and challenges, then we are one adverse event away from losing everything that we wanted to be yesterday.  While we may remain in the dumps about this for today, tomorrow we are still going to desire what we desired previously lest depression and anxiety take hold.  It is better to get up than to catch up, and who wants to always be returning to a place where you were before because you allowed yourself to be knocked back.

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