Dealing with adversity is a subject that I often address in my blog posts. Two that come to mind right away are A mental approach to coping with irritants and An ageless folktale about dealing with adversity. Here is yet another thought on this subject.
Face your adversity head-on
When you turn and face the sun, your shadow will always be behind you …
Said my mom to me on numerous occasions during both my childhood and adulthood. Her point was that the best way to deal with a problem was to address it directly. The unfortunate reality is that as long as I tried to keep evading the issue at hand, either by skirting around it or by avoiding it completely, the shadows would also linger, and eventually the outcome would be sub-optimal. As usual, my mom was right. And it turns out that my mom’s counsel is not bad advice for leaders either.
The leadership journey is fraught with minefields – unexpected setbacks, difficult clients and co-workers, or just simply situations where the best-laid plans go awry. When things go wrong, it can be tempting to retreat, to search out cover, and get out of the line of fire. At first glance, this may not be a bad idea, since withdrawal allows you to re-evaluate and reassess the state of affairs. But while pausing to reflect may be appropriate for the short-term, it is definitely not a long-term solution.
Eventually, the best approach is always to face the problem, walk towards it, and deal with it deliberately and thoughtfully. Whether it’s reconsidering options to recover from an unforeseen roadblock, choosing to actively resolve differences with a co-worker, or moving rapidly to Plan B when things don’t go exactly as anticipated, facing the issue head-on means that many (if not most) of the possible negative outcomes will be behind you.
So what do you think? Did my momma have it right? Or are there new rules for dealing with adversity that are better suited to the 21st century workplace? Please share your thoughts by adding your comments below.