Adversity is Dependent on the Individual

 I want to start out this week by thanking all of you who have taken the time to share feedback with me about the new website.  I’m excited to work through the challenges ahead, and I certainly appreciate the suggestions, advice and general well-wishes that I have received!

As I unveiled the new website last week, along with the focus of my future articles, I spent quite a bit of time sharing thoughts about the concept of adversity – what it is, it’s relativity, and the importance of embracing it.  I think it’s worth writing again that adversity doesn’t fall under an umbrella of specific events that occur in our livesAdditionally, the adversity that I face in my life will never be the same, or feel the same, as an adverse situation that each of you may have faced or will face in the future.

While we all have difficult situations that may have similarities, or be similar in the type of event, there are too many variables that are specific to the individual.  Outside of our basic human needs (insert Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs), we all have specific needs that align with our individual characteristics, values, and morals.

To help shed some clarity, I’ll use a couple examples to zero in on the concept that adversity is dependent on the individual.

  • Example 1:  At some point in our lives, we have or will lose a loved one.  This person could be a relative (mom, dad, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, cousin, aunt, uncle, etc.), a close friend, a teacher or coach, or possibly even a co-worker or mentor.  If two people were to lose a grandmother, it’s probably that the extent to which each person views this as adverse is going to depend on several variables.  Some may include, the age of the person who is suffering/not suffering, how much time was spent with the grandmother, how involved the grandmother was involved in the grandkids life, or possibly whether or not the grandkid even knew the grandmother.  When these factors are considered, the extent to which this is viewed as adversity will vary from one grandchild to the other.
  • Example 2: Imagine that two individuals have to undergo a knee surgery that will require months of rehabilitation.  For one of the individuals, the surgery is the result of a sports injury, and the down-time will keep this person from playing a sport that he/she loves for an extended period of time.  However, this young athlete knows that with hard work, determination, and some grit, that he/she will return to the respective sport.  On the other hand, the second individual is an elderly person in their 70’s.  This person’s surgery is the result of twisting the knee while walking down the steps.  If this person wants to walk again without feeling any pain, the surgery is required, but the rehabilitation will take twice as long as the young athlete.  At the end of the day, the ‘adverse event’ is the same, but this shows that the degree of adversity is likely different.

Because of this concept, there is one important question that must be asked:

“How do I (we), as individuals develop the ability to embrace adversity, regardless of the situation, so that I (we) can learn and grow from our experiences to make all future adverse events easier to conquer?”

Process for Embracing Adversity

Last October, I wrapped up a five-week series titled ‘Managing Complex Change.  This series was written with the notion that within a system, organization, or even in our lives, we will experience change in varying degrees and on different scales.  This included anything from implementing a new system into an organization, changing jobs and careers, or even learning a new skill.

In that series, each week focused on one specific characteristic.  The characteristic was defined, its benefits explained, and the implications stated in the event that the trait was missing among the other four characteristics.  To this day, the series on complex change is my most popular article with the highest number of views.

Adversity requires change.  Many times it’s more complex than we would like it to be, and navigating the process for working through it can be overwhelming, stressful, and even painful.  Adversity is a mountain to climb, sometimes big and at other times small, but with a plan and a process, it’s possible to embrace the circumstances.

Then, utilizing a process, we can begin placing one foot in front of the other until we arrive at the peak of the mountain.  That’s the moment when the struggle is behind us, the end comes into sight, and we continue on with a greater self-confidence to embrace the next mountain that we must climb.

A process is defined as ‘a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner’.

Processes weren’t designed to move backwards, but rather forward, working towards something different than when we started.  In organizations, processes are developed to increase efficiency, receive a greater return on investment, and to maximize production (growth).  Periodically, the process might even be refined, using the information from past experiences to help become better in the future.

Sound familiar?  This is the intention when must have when we decide to embrace adversity.  We use a process, a continuous action, and undergo some changes to move towards a positive end result.

Five Week Series Coming

Before diving into deeper content surrounding adversity and our ability to embrace it, I’m going to spend the next five weeks diving into what a process might look like for embracing adversity.  Using the same model as the complex change series, each week I’m going to di-sect one characteristic of the process.

I’ll provide a definition or explanation, solid evidence for the importance of the characteristic, and the implications when the trait is absent from the overall equation.

At the end of the five weeks, you will gain an understanding for how to champion the mountains that you face.  Instead of running away from, or right at adversity, you’ll be able to use strategies to embrace life’s most difficult situations.  So, the next time something creeps into your life, you have the knowledge and resources available to keep moving forward, ready and willing to conquer!

11 Comments on “Embracing Adversity is a Process, Not an Outcome

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