Life is full of adversity. This is not a negative statement; it simply is a truthful one. Unfortunately, many people coast through life, seemingly having it all together, until adversity suddenly strikes and everything falls apart. Sometimes adversity brings seasons of loss, lack, and loneliness with the potential to negatively alter the life of the person experiencing it.
The good news is that adversity doesn't have to negatively alter your life. There is an art to overcoming adversity. By using the three keys defined in this article, you can view adversity in a whole new light that includes gratitude for the experience.
Before introducing the three keys I want to repeat a statement I have used many times around the world during my fifteen years of speaking and training:
"Adversity has an interesting way of introducing us to ourselves."
I have met people who confidently assert that nothing can touch them. They can do anything! However, when adversity enters their families or businesses, they crumble. I have also met people who say they are not very strong or confident, and who spend much of their time trying to hide from adversity—yet when it enters their lives, they rise up and overcome obstacles they never thought possible.
What makes the difference? Is it the type of adversity? No: I have seen the exact same adversity receive blame for complete destruction in one person's life and the credit for being the reason another person became successful.
So what makes the difference? It is simply this: those people who are able to use adversity to catapult themselves to new levels of success use the following three keys, whether or not they realize it.
Key #1: Look at adversity as a temporary circumstance—not a permanent reality.
Many people make the mistake of misdiagnosing adversity when it first strikes. They panic and fall victim to thoughts such as "This is never going to end" or "My life will never be the same." When people see a situation as permanent, they react to it differently than they would if they saw it as temporary, and in doing so they often incur a higher cost and may even inadvertently extend that season of adversity.
For instance, I love the warmth and activities of summer. Imagine how I would feel if I convinced myself, when December rolled around, that winter was never going to end! I would lose all hope, and along with it, the energy, creativity, and desire to plan for a future I'd convinced myself would never come.
These are all unnecessary prices we pay when we fail to recognize adversity as a temporary circumstance.
Key #2: Condition yourself to see value first, rather than pain and hurt.
I am not suggesting that adversity is free of pain and hurt, but it is possible to condition ourselves to see value first, and when we do so, it completely changes our attitude.
Here is the key to seeing value first when adversity strikes: don't wait until adversity strikes to practice seeing value in it.
I have applied this principle for years in my leadership events. After every break, I take several minutes to allow people to share the value they have created from the previous sessions. I help them recognize there is value in everything if they are looking for it. When event attendees hear others' perspectives, they can see how much value they missed while taking notes or being absorbed in their own experience.
I write an article every week for Mentorfish.com by taking everyday experiences and finding the leadership principles imbedded in those events so my readers can learn from them. I urge people I come in contact with to be value hunters. When we do this consistently for long enough, it becomes part of who we are. If we continually train ourselves to look for value in every circumstance, it becomes branded into who we are and shows up even when we are in the midst of adversity.
Key #3: See through adversity—don't stare at it!
What happens when you stare at a problem? It gets bigger and bigger, until it seems to loom in front of you like a giant, intimidating wall, too thick for you to even dream of moving past or leaping over.
Never sit and stare at adversity, because doing so will only make the situation appear worse. Instead, force yourself to see through it. Imagine yourself wearing a pair of X-ray glasses to help you see what lies beyond the problem.
Just knowing that there is something beyond the moment of adversity will empower you to move through the situation with far greater ease. Picture yourself on the other side and imagine how you will feel once it has past. If you can see far enough, you may even be able to see yourself as actually thankful for the "blessing in disguise" because of how it helped you become the person you are.
When you see through adversity it loses its power to hold you back from the successful outcome you were designed to create.
The art of overcoming adversity is not mastered overnight. It takes time and effort. However, I promise you that time and effort are well spent. When you begin to approach adversity with these three keys, you will operate on a whole new level. You will begin to experience opportunity and success that few people ever realize.
Don't let adversity tell you what it will do to your life; tell adversity what you will take from it that will benefit you and help you tap into your own greatness.
KEITH KOCHNER is an international speaker
and founder of Mentorship Mastery, a leadership
and professional development training company.
He is also the creator of Mentorfish.com, one
of the world's largest paid online leadership social