Does adversity + resiliency = success?

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had in your personal or professional life? Did this challenge create opportunities for you to grow? Sometimes when we face challenges in our lives, we feel trapped or overwhelmed with the pressure to succeed, and we don’t address failure head on.

I’ve experienced a ton of athletic and business adversity in my life which in the end has created resiliency and allowed me to grow personally and professionally. When we fail, we can accept our hardships and seek a growth mindset.

When you fail, you learn. It’s never easy to fail or go through tough times in our life, but if we choose the right mindset, we can eventually use that failure to propel us to new heights.

If I use my flex capacitor and go back in time, I can remember the first bout of adversity that I’ve ever dealt with. I was a senior in high school and our school’s starting quarterback. The dream season was laid out before me as I had colleges who were expressing interest – and then snap! That sound was four bones in my right foot during the last play of a jamboree that would prevent me from playing my senior year. As a 17 year old, I thought life was over. All of my goals were gone and there was no way that I could achieve with this season ending injury. Boy, was I wrong! 

My replacement was a good friend of mine and would go on to take our team to the playoffs, set passing records, and achieve all league status – all right in front of me. All I could do was watch. Initially, I felt sorry for myself, but thankfully something clicked inside of me and I chose a different path. I was a captain, and realized pouting and feeling sorry for myself was not an option!  I would end up being a pseudo coach and was in the booth helping my coaches call plays and provide guidance to the offensive players. What an amazing experience!

As tough of an experience as that was for me, it set me up for later success. I went on to play quarterback at Central Washington University where I was a multi-year starter, captain and eventually honorable mention All-American. Not only did I enjoy a great experience at Central, but that adversity of having a season ending injury made me more resilient, which created multiple paths for success as a captain and team leader later in life.

Some twenty-five years later, I am still using that tough time in my life as a reminder on how to deal with adversity. I made the CHOICE to CHOOSE my mindset, which in the end further helped me increase my chances for resilient and positive outcomes.

As a business development professional, adversity happens daily as you’re building your client base. You hear “NO” far more than you hear “YES” as a salesperson, which for some people can be their obstacle to achieve a successful sales career. In the consulting and staffing industry, our “product” is people.  Each day is different. Each business scenario is different, and with a “product” that has a mind of its own, I’ve found this can create another level of adversity given the complexities of our business.

Three years ago, my team and I worked very closely together in pursuit to win one of the largest deals in our company history. Through great teamwork, my team and I won this deal! Great news….right? It was great news until three months later. Our customer would come into internal budget challenges, and essentially a large portion of this deal would be lost. It was flashbacks for me to the broken foot!

How could this happen? What did I do wrong? 

Luckily, as I look back at all of our steps, it was just one of those things that happened. This situation provided me great opportunity to handle adversity square in the eye – and build resiliency from this experience. As I mentioned above, I had the opportunity to CHOOSEthe right mindset and build a stronger character from dealing with this tough situation.

As you look at both stories I’ve shared, I could’ve easily gone down the path of failure. In my football example, I made the choice not to alienate my team. I was a captain and it required me to step up and be a leader. In my business example, I could’ve made excuses and blamed others, resulting in more challenges and an unhappy customer.  You could argue that I was still playing quarterback, just in a business setting. I was still a captain as the executive sponsor for this customer and I had to step up and CHOOSE the right mindset.

My customer would later thank me for how I dealt with such tough news! She told me that the day we won this large deal – and the day the deal fell apart – I was the same person. I never made her feel bad, given this budgetary decision was out of her control as well.

Hopefully both stories that I’ve shared provided you some real examples of how our mindset is in our control. I also hope that you understand how adversity can make you more resilient, and prepare you for additional challenges that you will have. We must challenge ourselves to look for ways to get better and grow daily. Not some days, but every day as we have control over that mindset!

I would love to hear from you now! Please share a comment below with how you believe adversity can build resiliency. Do you have a story to share? If you’ve enjoyed this story, please share with your network, so that we can find ways to make choose that growth mindset!

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