Four Rules To Overcome Adversity

A famous actress once remarked, ‘It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.’ Every individual has odds to battle and difficulties to surmount. Those who win through have the knack of facing adversity without losing their drive and energy. Mental strength is hard to define, but it’s in those who struggle towards their goals with guts and panache.

Here are four rules to help:

1. It’s a challenge, not a problem

Stop using the word ‘problem’. It’s a depressing, negative anchor. Instead use ‘challenge’: ‘We’ve got some terrific challenges — let’s solve them. Let’s turn them to our advantage and let’s do it now.’

Challenge is a positive, energy-enhancing word that is much more likely to inspire us to find a solution. It’s half full rather than half empty, ‘X is a challenge for me’ rather than ‘X is a problem for me.’

2. There is no failure, only feedback

When a guided missile is off course, feedback sensors detect the error and correct the trajectory. It is awareness of the error that enables the missile to achieve its accuracy.

Have the same attitude towards yourself. When you make a mistake, it’s not a failure, it’s simply feedback that your goal-seeking mechanism requires to get you back on track.

Computer programmers know that the first time they run a new program it probably won’t run correctly. They have to debug it. They don’t get upset or feel they have failed — they make corrections and alter course based on what they’ve learned.

The best thing you can do with a mistake is to accept it as a learning experience. Whenever something goes awry, stay strong and say to yourself, ‘That’s interesting feedback, how can I learn from this, how can I turn this to my advantage?’ But don’t dwell on what has happened.

Energetic, positive people are gutted by adversity just as much as everyone else. The difference is what happens next.

Be keenly aware of how you react to adversity. When you catch yourself responding weakly, slam the palm of your hand on your desk, your knee, your steering wheel or whatever and shout ‘Stop! Delete!’ — and refocus on the picture of your desired outcome.

3. Turn it to your advantage

Positive people see opportunity in adversity. Negative people think the grass is brown on both sides of the fence. The great personal development specialist Napoleon Hill, in his book Think and Grow Rich, puts it this way: ‘Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.’

If your car is stolen while you’re out visiting a customer, do you get annoyed, kick the kerb and fume, or do you sit down calmly and think about what car you’d like next?

When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, is it an alarm clock or an opportunity clock!

4. A solution does exist — all you have to do is find it

The world may be full of problems, but it’s also full of solutions. Realising this gets our creative juices flowing, it turns on our creativity. The moment we say, ‘This is difficult, this is not going to work, this is going to be tough’, we turn our creativity off.

Keep your mind focused on the solution. Visualise what life will be like with the challenge solved.

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