I looked around and I was bankrupt (financially and emotionally), divorced and sleeping on the floor in the living room of my sister’s one-bedroom apartment. I wondered to myself, how on earth did I get here?
Just a few years prior, I was flying high. Then everything crashed around me. By God’s grace, I picked up the pieces and slowly rebuilt my life brick by brick. I emerged stronger than before and ready to face whatever obstacles that presented themselves next.
How did I turn things around? I allowed myself to D.R.E.A.M Again.
According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.
As a leader – whether you’re leading your own company, leading a team in a corporate environment or leading your own family, you too can adapt well in the face of adversity by allowing yourself to “D.R.E.A.M” again. I’m not talking about what you do in your sleep, although that type of dreaming can be beneficial too. This is slightly different. This type of “dream” provides you 5 ways to conquer adversity in your personal and professional life and become more resilient in the process.
Here are the 5 ways:
Decide that this is not the end of your story no matter how bleak it looks, but merely the transition from an old ending to a new beginning. I knew God had a plan and a purpose for my life and that He was working everything out in my favor. I had zero visibility into what exactly that would look like, but bottom line – I chose to trust in and rely on Him. I think it was during this time that my “life verse” actually became my life verse – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Reflect on your blessings rather than your burdens. As long as we have breath in our lungs, we have hope. No matter how hard-pressed we are, there’s always something to be thankful for. Reflecting on how much God has blessed us, despite our momentary troubles, elicits a sense of gratitude. Having an attitude of gratitude helps us keep things in perspective and produces the fuel of encouragement that keeps us pushing forward.
Edit your internal script. When adversity slams us, we sometimes turn inward and blame ourselves. “I should’ve done this, or I shouldn’t have said that. Or we blame others – “If only s/he would’ve…” Or sometimes we might even blame God, “God, if only you would’ve…” Then fear, doubt and negative self-talk start to creep in – “What if I don’t make it out of this one?” “I am a total failure.” “I Can’t…[you fill in the blank]”. No, no and no again! Replace that script with scripts like these: “I am more than a conqueror!” “I am the head and not the tail”, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
Assess your strengths. Then access your creativity in order to create a new vision for your life. All of us were endowed with unique gifts at birth. What are yours? Are you fully utilizing them? We were all put on earth for a specific purpose. Do you understand what yours is? If not, take time to discover and uncover your gifts and unique abilities. There are various personality type and spiritual gifts assessments that can give you the clarity to play to your strengths and better utilize your gifts. Once you’ve gained that clarity, then commit to utilizing your gifts in the service of others.
Move towards your destiny. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
The longer we live, the more obstacles, pressure and adversity we’ll all face to one degree or another. What matters most is how we respond to them. No matter what, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep moving towards your destiny knowing that God has a perfect plan for your life and that your steps are ordered. Stephen Covey says to “start with the end in mind.” Envision who you want to become and the contribution you want to make in this world. Then stay focused, stay on mission and diligently work towards that.
If you’re in the spot I was in years ago wondering, “What the heck just hit me?!!!” as you contemplate where to go from here, I encourage you to give yourself permission to D.R.E.A.M again. Decide this is a new beginning. Reflect on your blessings and not on your burdens. Edit your internal script. Assess your strengths; and finally, move towards your destiny. If you use these 5 strategies, you’ll be well-positioned to bounce back from your setbacks and become more a more resilient leader.
Michael K. Jackson is a professional speaker, trainer, writer and expert on the topic of resilience and overcoming adversity. Through his inspirational keynote speeches, workshops and Build Back Stronger Blog, he provides leaders with proven strategies and techniques to reduce stress and anxiety so that they and their organizations can be more profitable, more productive and have more peace of mind. You can learn more, book Michael as a speaker or sign up for regular inspiration at https://michaelkjackson.com/.