Adversity: How to Succeed in Today’s Economy – Guaranteed!
By Joe Calhoon
Imagine Lance Armstrong’s best day. Do you feel the wind
blowing against your sweaty face? Are their fans cheering as you
cross the finish line? Or, is there the scent of antiseptic, the
chill of a thin gown, and the buzz of fluorescent lighting in a
dreary hospital room?
Surprisingly, Lance Armstrong said his best day was not on
his bike but on his back; the day he learned he had cancer. The
character he developed through this adversity helped Lance Armstrong
win Le Tours de France a record seven times. His proudest
achievement, though, was still to come. He has encouraged thousands
of cancer survivors and raised millions of dollars to fight the
What adversity are you facing? Your ability to handle this
adversity is one of the most robust predictors of your personal
growth, future contributions and happiness in life. Organizations
that develop their capacity to handle adversity improve morale,
performance and profitability. Blaming, whining and complaining are
symptoms of individuals and organizations beaten down by adversity.
Every individual and every organization has a unique purpose,
a mountain to climb, a contribution to make. There are three ways
to deal with your personal and organizational mountains. You can
climb, camp or quit.
relentless in their ascent. They are constantly learning,
growing, adapting to change, and experiencing life to the
fullest. These individuals are energized by challenges and
refuse to be insignificant in their life’s work and their
relationships. This group is a small percentage of the whole.
They are engaged.
usually retired climbers. They’ve lost their edge. They’ve
exchanged their highest dreams and aspirations for the comfort
and security of the common life. They put in their time.
They’re getting by. This group represents the vast majority of
people. They are disengaged.
retired on the job. They are bitter and depressed. Adversity
has shut them down. They resent the coasters and climbers. They
are actively disengaged.
provides the opportunity to develop extraordinary character.
Character inspires greatness. The character you develop helps you
make greater contributions while overcoming adversity of all kinds.
Here are six ways to lead through adversity and keep climbing
1. Check Your Mindset. There are approximately six billion people on the planet,
and it’s estimated that two billion of them live on $2 or less per
day. Put in all in perspective; our standard of living is the
highest the world has ever seen. Kings and queens in centuries past
could not imagine our automobiles, TVs, or cell phones, not to
mention our computers, airplanes and household appliances. Check
out the Web site, www.GlobalGichList.com; if you enter your income
as $20,000 (U.S.), you will see you are in the top 10 percent of
income earners in the world. Maintain perspective. Focus on what
you have, not what you don’t have. Count your blessings. Have an
attitude of gratitude. You’ll be happier and healthier. You’ll be
a more attractive person. Choose to be happy with what you have
while you pursue what you want. The French have a wonderful saying,
noblesse oblige, that means with wealth, power, and prestige come
2. Develop Your Character. Thousands of people were recently asked what is
most important to them:
Approximately 95 percent said that their character is most
important. About five percent said that their achievements are most
important. Only a few individuals value their possessions more than
their character and achievements.
When have you experienced your most significant character
development? Virtually everyone says, during times of adversity.
In order to effectively lead our lives and organizations through
adversity, we must develop these character qualities.
Courage is the quality of mind that enables you to encounter
danger and difficulties with firmness and resolution. Associate
with people who build your faith, not your fears. Limit your
exposure to negative input.
Perseverance is the continued pursuit of any endeavor or
enterprise. This character quality is demonstrated as you
continue to climb your mountains. The entire world is facing
unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Don’t quit now.
Integrity is doing what you say what you will do. Be honest with
yourself and others. Build trust with those closest to you.
Your relationships always matter most.
Patience is uncomplaining endurance; calmly and contentedly
waiting for something you hope for. The lack of delayed
gratification is a major cause of our problems. It will also be
a significant part of the solution. Produce more than you
consume. Live within your means.
Humility is freedom from pride and arrogance, a modest estimate
of one's own worth. The most respected leaders are servant
leaders. The most valued employees are those who consistently
serve others. Acknowledge your limitations and learn to work
more effectively with others. We’re all in this together. We
need each other to succeed.
3. Live a Balanced Life of Meaning and Contribution.
Make a list of the five most important elements of your life –
family relationships, vibrant health, personal faith, meaningful
contributions at work, a satisfying hobby, a volunteer role, and
financial stewardship, for example. Now, number these areas in
order of importance. Put this list on a card and carry it in your
wallet or purse. Each area of your life invites you to make
specific contributions that improve quality of life for yourself and
others. Living a balanced life means that you give your best in all
areas. Work-life balance means that work intrudes on family as much
as family intrudes on work. That’s balance. Sometimes you choose
to work longer. Sometimes you choose to invest more time with your
4. Become Obsessed With Your CEO.
Businesses that obsessively focus on serving customers, employees
and owners (CEO), while fostering leadership throughout the
organization, perform much better than comparison companies. These
four times faster
seven times faster
equity 12 times faster
that are 756 times greater
During times of adversity many people disengage. It’s easy
to escape into habits of self-absorption and selfishness. However,
it’s more productive and satisfying to give your best efforts to
serve others. You make a living by what you get. You make a life
by what you give. Continue to give your best efforts to serve
others. Give to those less fortunate. The principle of giving and
receiving is the key to unlocking success in all areas of life.
5. Achieve Your Most Important Priorities.
Priorities are what matters most. They may be:
As you clarify and achieve your most important priorities,
you make progress in the most important areas of your life. Only
you can make your unique contributions in these areas. To
prioritize effectively, ask yourself what are the most important
actions you can take in each area. Then, prioritize the actions as
follows: A = must do B = should do C = could do. Do the A
priorities first, then the B priorities. You’ll always be focused
on things that matter most. It has been suggested that one minute
of planning time may save 12 minutes in execution time. Prioritize
your list. Go to work.
6. Create an
Inspired Definition of Success.
Webster defines success as, “the accomplishment of what is desired
or aimed at; the attainment of wealth, fame and prosperity.” This
is an inadequate definition. We all know people who have achieved
what they “aimed for” only to make themselves and others miserable.
Many others have discovered wealth and fame are short-lived and
unsatisfying. There is much more to success than achieving
“something.” Success is best defined by our contributions to
others. That kind of success can be achieved by anyone in any
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