“When we look upon this earth, the opportunities take shape within the problems” (Nelson A Rockefeller)

Adversity is a part of all our lives. At times, adversity seems to break the spirit of some. More often, however, adversity brings out the true spirit and character within people and leads them to make the noblest of choices. They adapt to their surroundings and surmount the opposition. Many of life’s adversities are short-term and swiftly come to resolution as we find a new job or restore a relationship or recover from a cold. Some, however, are long-term and not so easily solved – from physical attacks to losses of loved ones, to economic despair, to natural disasters, and more. While each trial is as unique as the individual who faced it, there are some commonalities in how successful people adapt and conquer in times of adversity and pain.

  1. They make noble choices – after consideration of all the issues, they rely on values and unchanging principles to assist them in forging a way ahead. While emotion is very present in the adversity that they are facing, they have the ability to stand to one side and reflect on their options without allowing emotion alone to guide their thought processing. They become their own coach or mentor – not wallowing in self-pity but forcing themselves to consider all angles of the issue to come up with a more complete picture of possibilities.
  2. They adapt when faced with unchangeable circumstances – they don’t bemoan the circumstances, they don’t complain, they don’t pass on negativity. They rather acknowledge any boundaries or obstacles, accept them, and look for ways to overcome them. This is the difference between being a transmitter of negativity (passing it on to others and making them, too, suffer) or a transformer (recognising the context, accepting it and adapting to it, and moving on, getting on with what they have to do).
  3. They look for opportunities – they don’t dwell on the negativity but rather look for opportunities within the obstacles that they face. They begin to see themselves and the people around them as potentially irrepressible, unstoppable forces of nature and capitalise on relationships. They turn the negative events in life into something positive.

Adversity always demands that we respond to a series of questions. Will we accept, adapt, do what we need to do and move forward, or will we allow the opposition to triumph? Will we be transmitters of negativity or transformers, looking for opportunity?

Jerry Stemkoski tells the story: “One early spring day, I met an old farmer. It had been a rainy spring and I commented about how good it must be for the crops to have so much rain early in the season. He replied, ‘No, if the weather is too easy on the crops now, the plants may only grow roots near the surface. If that happens, then a storm could easily destroy the crops. However, if things are not so easy in the beginning, then the plants will have to grow the strong and deep roots they need to get at the water and nourishment down below. If a storm or drought comes, they are more likely to survive.’ Now I look at rough times as an opportunity to put down some roots to help me weather future storms that may come my way.”

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