You can allow the storms of life to either develop you or defeat you. The choice is entirely yours my friend. That you will experience challenges and setbacks in your life is as certain as the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. If you’re a leader, entrepreneur or business professional who’s mentally maxed out and seeking more harmony and less strife in your life, the key is to make adversity your adviser, not your adversary.
You might be asking yourself, “How do I do that?”
Making adversity your advisor is based on your ability to change 3 things:
- What you see – your perception of the situation
- What you say – the words you use to describe the situation
- What you sow – the actions you take (or don’t take) regarding the situation
I’ve always been a driven, goal-oriented type of person. When I was in my mid-20s, I declared three goals that I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 30: 1) buy my first house, 2) get my MBA and 3) make $100,000/yr. I wrote those goals down on paper and set about the business of accomplishing them. I hit all three by age 29.
Now, this is where the story takes a dramatic turn…
I grew up in a home where Christian values were modeled and instilled in my siblings and me from an early age. However, in early adulthood, I had “one foot in the church and the other in the world” as the saying goes. Money and accomplishment were my main drivers. As I approached my 30th birthday, I had this empty feeling inside, despite all that I had accomplished. I knew what it was or Who it was, rather, that was tugging on my heartstrings. So, I decided to recommit my life to Jesus Christ and got baptized a couple of months before my 30th birthday. Then, POP!!! Less than a month before my 30th birthday, I got laid off from my high paying corporate job. That loud pop was the sound of the tech bubble of the late 90s/early 2000s bursting and all the air getting sucked out of the career I had so meticulously built up to that point.
I applied literally to hundreds and hundreds of job postings – to no avail. As weeks of unemployment turned into months, I watched my savings account (and my pride) get more and more depleted. I got rejection letter after rejection letter. For someone who prided himself on his education and skills, this experience was deflating.
To say my newly reaffirmed faith was being tested would be an understatement. I’d be lying if I said I was strong and remained steadfast every day. Honestly, there were days when I was downright depressed. I had lost a ton of weight. My buddy, Russell, would come by and try to get me out of the house to cheer me up; but I would turn him away and just sulk in my pajamas all day. It seemed like the situation would never change despite all my efforts. I knew God could change it. I just wasn’t sure if He would change it. I just kept praying and reading His Word. I would write out encouraging scriptures and memorize them. The Bible says that we should pray continually, and I surely did. I prayed for stronger faith, for patience and for the strength to endure. Despite the depression, the stress and the anxiety, I refused to give up.
I came to a decision – if no one would give me a job, I’d create my own. I shifted my mindset. I decided to embrace the adversity I faced as my adviser, my teacher if you will, instead of opposing it as an adversary.
I changed what I saw. I saw a different future than what my circumstances were at the time. I reminded myself that nothing in life is permanent. I allowed myself to dream big and pray big knowing that I served a BIG God.
I changed what I said. Those scriptures I memorized, I said them over and over again until they became automatic. I started saying things like “I am the head and not the tail!” “I am more than a conqueror!” “No weapon formed against me will prosper!” These were all affirmations that my mother drilled into us when we were growing up.
I changed what I sowed. I’ve always had a love for fitness and working out. So, I decided to study to get my personal fitness trainer certification and got it. Eventually, I launched a 30-minute fitness center franchise that catered to busy women who didn’t want a big-gym experience. I became a first-time entrepreneur. It was the greatest feeling in the world. Despite having all that experience and all that education, no one would give me a job…So I created my own darn job! The former employee became an employer.
This was by no means the end of my story but merely the end of a chapter in an overarching story. My life would soon take an even more dramatic turn. However, I‘ll save what happened next for another blogpost.
Suffice it to say, shifting how I related to adversity enabled me to overcome that adversity; and that ushered me into a season of entrepreneurship that changed the trajectory of my life.
Experiencing a setback in your own career, life or business? Instead of bucking against it, embrace it.
Start by asking yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?
Then check your self-talk. What words are you using to describe yourself and your current circumstances? Are you saying, “I’m never going to be successful again?” or “This situation will never change.” If it’s all negative, then change your words.
Finally, take a look at what you’re doing. What are you sowing in terms of the actions you’re taking? Ask God to order your steps and then change course if necessary. Align where you are with your vision of where you want to be and start walking in that direction. You won’t have all the answers up front but stay in step and in tune with God. He’ll lay the path out before you one step and one decision at a time.
Imagine the possibilities…What if you too made adversity your advisor, not your adversary?