The Power of a P.L.A.N. in the Face of Adversity: 4 Simple Steps to Become a More Resilient Leader

Have you ever gotten that phone call? No, not the one telling you that you just hit the jackpot but the one that begins with the words, “Are you sitting down?”

I got that call about a a year and a half ago from an old buddy I grew up with in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands named Andy. It was the 20th of September 2017. The V.I. had just gotten hit by the 2nd of two Category 5 hurricanes that slammed the Territory in as many weeks. First Irma wreaked havoc and destroyed nearly everything in her path. Then came the now notorious Hurricane Maria. Andy went on to explain that the floodwaters caused by the storm had snatched my father’s life right in front of our house. Maurice Eugene Jackson was 66 years young. Needless to say, this news rocked my family and me to our core. I was left literally in a daze.

I’m guessing you probably can’t relate to losing a parent in a hurricane, but have you ever been hit by an emotional Category 5 hurricane? How about the health crisis, the job layoff or the failed business venture that leads you to the brink of financial ruin, the divorce, the multiple miscarriages? Or what about when the floodwaters of adversity come in the form of fear of failure, incessant worry, self-doubt, and anxiety? What do you do when these types of internal and external obstacles threaten to drown your hopes and dreams and prevent you from maximizing your God-given potential? How have you weathered these “emotional storms”?

Here’s a simple yet powerful 4-step “P.L.A.N.” that will empower you to slay adversity in all its forms and become a much more resilient leader at home, at work and in every dimension of your life.  When you experience setbacks, you’ll be able to bounce back faster and build yourself, your team and your organization back stronger than before. It’s worked for me time and again, and it’ll work for you as well – if you choose to use it.  I’ll touch on each step here and then break them down individually in greater detail in future blogposts.

STEP 1: P for Pray (and meditate)

My favorite book (it’s a really Good Book) says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying pray.”

Studies show that there are numerous benefits to prayer and meditation including lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, increased immunity, and more.I encourage you to make prayer (regardless of what faith you practice) your first response when adversity strikes.

STEP 2: L for Listen (and learn)

Lean in and listen to the voice of God, that still small voice deep down in your spirit that some call intuition. Also listen to what your own heart is telling you – as long as your heart is in proper alignment, otherwise it may lead you astray. Finally, listen to the wise counsel of the people in your life who have your best interests at heart and who are in your corner. What lessons can you learn from this experience?

STEP 3: A for Act

We have to put our prayers into motion by acting on them based on what we hear and learn in Step 2. Faith without works is dead. So now it’s time to act!

After being hit by my own emotional Category 5 hurricane at the loss of my dad, I turned adversity into action by spearheading a hurricane relief effort through my church that resulted in multiple teams of volunteers going to St. Thomas to help rebuild the island.

There are times when our only “act” might simply be the act of changing our perspective about a situation. In these instances, it’s important to view trouble as our teacher and adversity as our advisor rather than our adversary. This requires a fundamental shift in our thinking.

STEP 4: N for Notate (journaling)

Numerous studies show that journaling can be an extremely helpful stress relief tool. Journaling is also beneficial because when emotional storms hit, we can reflect back on how we were able to overcome adversity in the past. This provides us with the hope and strength necessary to lean into the adversity rather than be deterred by it.

P.L.A.N. -Pray-Listen-Act-Notate-is a simple, “hurricane proof” process that you can immediately implement in your life to conquer adversity in all its forms and become a much more resilient leader as a result. So put your P.L.A.N. in place and watch your stress levels plummet while your productivity and peace of mind soars.

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 and productive. You can learn more, book Michael as a speaker or sign up for regular inspiration at

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