Five Tips to Overcome Adversity in the Workplace

Nobody gets through life without facing some sort of adversity. Sometimes it’s family issues or health problems. Other times it’s work-related, in the form of difficult co-workers, impossible deadlines, communication problems with your boss, long hours, or any number of issues.

But how we choose to respond is the most important factor.

Resiliency is the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adjust to stress, adversity, trauma and tragedy.  Basically, it is armor for the mind.  And like leadership, resilience is a learned capability that is not simply something you are born with.

Developing your personal resiliency will naturally help you in the face of challenging situations at work.  Here are five key points for you to work on so that you can turn looming problems into manageable situations.

A positive outlook and sense of purpose in life.

So much of what we experience in life and how we interpret events around us is governed by our minds.  And while we cannot simply decide to have a positive outlook, with dedicated effort, we can reframe much of how we view things around us.  Meditation, yoga, journaling and other techniques are fun and effective techniques to center ourselves, and give us time to think about not only the good things in life, but what we want to accomplish professionally.

A sense of personal control over situations.

We all aim for control over our personal and professional lives.  When we do have control, we feel stronger and more confident.  And while we may not be able to control our work flow or hours required for a particular project, we can control how we handle ourselves in these situations.  Taking the time to prioritize our time and identify the steps necessary to accomplish the mission ensures we are not just the proverbial “cogs in the machine.”

A welcoming attitude towards change.    

Life changes, for better or worse – it all depends how we look at it.  And each of us is probably facing a certain degree of change at work on a daily basis.  If you can accept that change is good and that innovation and progress are driven by change, you can view any adversity at work through a different lens.

Future goal orientation.

Sometimes the immediate adversity we are facing at work will actually help us in the long run.  Having to find better ways to communicate with your team may help you with any new staff you bring in later.  Working extra hours this month may open up your schedule for that vacation you have been hoping for next month.  Attending an inconvenient training course, which may require you to be away from the office, can help you develop skills that will help you for years to come.  We should all aim to be strategic in how we spend our time and the more long-term our focus, the better.

Realistic self-reflection.

What seems insurmountable often isn’t and can be overcome after spending some time contemplating that challenge.  After I was shot in Iraq, I thought life as I knew it was over.  But after significant self reflection, coupled with a realistic analysis of my skills and weaknesses, I realized that my life would certainly be different, but not worse.  In fact, as odd as it may sound, life after being shot is much more rewarding than before, and I believe I now lead a much more impactful existence.  We should all take the time to truly identify the adversity we are facing and what are the possible solutions.  Is it adversity or an opportunity in disguise? Is there an easy solution within our control? If it is a personal issue, is it possible to take the high road to end the situation once and for all?

Building our resilience helps us overcome adversity and sometimes shows us that the mountain in front of us is really a molehill.  Take the time build your own armor, focus on your long-term strength and success and life will take care of the rest.