“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
Two months before my wedding I was fired. One of the lowest points of my life was calling my fiancé and telling her that I just lost the job that was supposed to serve as the foundation for our new life together. I’d like to be able to say that I was able to quickly move on from this experience, but I wasn’t.
For years after I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and indecision. What-ifs would flood my mind to the point they almost drowned out everything else. Over time, this eroded my ability to trust myself. Now, thankfully, with the wisdom of a decade in the workplace, I can clearly see how I could have better handled things. It is my hope that the following dearly earned insights will be of help to others going through a similar experience.
I’ve found that to face professional adversity, you need 3 things—a strong network, motivation, and a plan. Once properly cultivated, these three pillars will provide you with the strength to face adversity and come out stronger.
A strong network.
There are no neutral relationships, they will either build you up or tear you down. I’ve heard it said that you become like the three people you spend the most time with. Are you confident that the people you spend your time with will have your back in a crisis? Thankfully, my friends were there to support me and proved their quality by standing by my side when I needed them most. Put people around you that you can count on to give you the wisdom and council necessary to weather the storms of life.
One of the best things I ever did was ask people older and wiser than me to take me under their wing and help me see beyond the here and now. Sometimes you must trust someone else to regain trust in yourself.
At the root of success is hard work, and just below that lies motivation. I had a teacher that would always ask, “Is your wood wet?” And what he meant by that was, are you extinguishing the fire that drives you? Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, by dwelling on ideas and thoughts that have no grounding, we are destroying the one thing that can save us, motivation.
It is extremely important to establish core truths that you can stand on in times of adversity. For me, my faith serves as that pillar. It helps me distinguish up from down when life goes sideways and helps me keep the fires lit when everything else screams to give up. Find something greater than yourself to believe in, and you’ll never lack for motivation when the going gets tough.
To overcome adversity, you need to have a plan, without one, you’re merely adrift. Being able to chart a course to safety must be your priority in the midst of adversity. With a solid plan in place, you’ll be able to see your own progress, and this is exactly what you need when you find yourself during a setback. I know it’s a tired analogy, but when you fall off the horse, you’ve got to pick yourself up and get back on.
Often creating a plan draws upon the first two pillars of this article. Your mentors and friends will help you see clearly when you cannot, and motivation will help you follow through.
Refined not ruined
With a strong network, motivation, and a plan, you’ll be well-equipped to face and overcome adversity. It won’t happen overnight, but by adhering to a few simple principles, the fire of adversity will refine you, not destroy you.