No one likes to think about facing adversity and hardships. However, everyone must deal with challenging situations at some point in their personal and professional lives, especially in the midst of today’s pandemic and social climate.
Having a strategy to confront adversity head-on can help you be better prepared when obstacles do pop up. To help, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members for their advice. Below they share their No. 1 tips for overcoming hardships and why doing so can help you grow as a person.
1. Decide Whether It Will Make or Break You
Adversity makes a person grow into their true potential. The No. 1 tip I could give for confronting adversity is to decide whether it’s going to make you or break you. If it’s worth going through all the hassle and stress, then go face it head-on. But if it isn’t, then just move onto the next one. Life is all about the choices you make. You simply can’t face them all at once.
2. Learn to Accept It
You can’t grow from adversity until you come to accept it. I’ve seen organizations that would cite their culture embraced things like “meritocracy” or “innovation” only to watch as employees faced high adversity and near punishment for the very outside-the-box innovations or business development success they garnered. Accept the adversity, stay centered on your “why” and the growth will occur.
3. Find Humor in It
Adversity, unfortunately, will always exist. There’s always going to be someone out there who doesn’t agree with you or like your ideas, and that’s OK. What’s important is how you handle it, and a great way is through laughter. When you can find the humor in things, you realize life isn’t that serious and most things you can brush off. It’s easier to live peacefully that way.
4. Slow Down and Document Your Actions
I think each obstacle teaches you something, either about a problem outside or within yourself. When I feel like I’m struggling or facing adversity, I take things slower than usual and document my actions in a diary. This helps me identify whether or not I could’ve handled the situation better. If I could have, I analyze why I didn’t and work on that aspect of my personality.
5. Focus on Self-Development
We all experience adversity at some point. Given this truth, I think the best way to confront and overcome it is to focus on self-development so we can get through that adversity and move forward. We need to be able to overcome and learn from that challenge in order to grow as people.
6. Look at Where Your Focus Is
Problems, sometimes large or small, keep showing up throughout our existence. It doesn’t matter how sharp, clever or old we are, we all encounter struggle, challenges and difficulties. But one trait that can separate you from the majority of the world is focus. Are you too focused on your own problem or are you working toward solving others’ problems? This gives you the right answer.
7. Reframe It as a Teachable Moment
Adversity can swallow you whole if you let it. Taking a step back, identifying some positive things to be thankful for and refocusing on the adversity as a “teachable moment” can be very effective when trying to conquer difficult times. Teaching yourself a new skill or coping mechanism to adapt and move past the adversity facilitates not only growth, but also confidence and strength.
8. Surround Yourself With Positive People
When facing adversity, it’s important to surround yourself with positive people. You might not even be aware of how much negativity you consume by being around negative people who only want to talk down to others and gossip. If you’re serious about finding the good in things, then you need to commit yourself to a positive lifestyle, and that starts with who you keep around you.
9. Focus on Actions You Can Control
Whoever has had to deal with tough times will probably notice that the most suffering occurs when we start to wonder when it will end. Although this is an instinctual reaction to discomfort and pain, it isn’t productive. Focus on actions you can control and live for the next second. Time slows down when we’re in pain, and you learn nothing by wishing it away. It’ll pass, so grow in the present.
10. Think About What You’ve Overcome So Far
Look at what you’ve overcome in the past. Adversity is a part of life and once you get through it you should put it in the rearview mirror. But that doesn’t mean you can’t draw on those experiences to get through the next rough stretch. Look particularly at the steps you took to address those hardships, get through them and thrive afterward.
11. Turn to a Source of Inspiration
Have an inspiration — your enabler! Mine is Oprah. She said, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” If you have people to follow who become your source of inspiration, you will know what steps to take and how to push yourself to be a better person. You know this inspirational person was able to do it, so why can’t you?
12. Collect All Available Information
The most important thing is to collect all available information so you can plan the best strategy, and then act as soon as possible. When you’re facing a difficult situation, it’s tempting to put off dealing with it. Be realistic about your options. Above all, avoid the mistake of doubling down on a bad decision or failure. When necessary, exit the situation and regroup or start over.
13. Talk It Out With Someone You Trust
Reaching out to talk to someone is an important way to cope with adversity. If you’re not comfortable sharing information with a friend, then consider speaking to a therapist or counselor through a phone call. Being able to talk and express your feelings reduces the weight of your negative feelings. You’ll feel better for having expressed yourself and will be able to take positive actions.
14. Don’t View It as a Catastrophe
When dealing with difficult times, one error in thinking that most of us fall into is catastrophizing the situation. When we start to think that the worst has happened and all is lost, we’re not at our best mentally. Make it a practice to ask yourself “Am I thinking the worst?” or “Am I catastrophizing?” This will help you think in a more balanced way and deal with the situation rationally.
15. Don’t Give Up
The best way to deal with adversity is to never give up. That way, you learn how to deal with tough times and end up learning ways to combat them. In doing so, you grow stronger and more independent than you think you can be. – Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.