Most people have seen someone fail, sometimes spectacularly. We have then seen that same person go on to recover equally spectacularly. Conversely, we have seen those we thought were “star” players have a minor stumble and never recover.
As a business leader for the last 25 years I’d like to weigh on the topic.
Is there a major gene at play that helps some and not others deal with adversity and bounce back quicker and more effectively? I think not. What helps you bounce back from adversity is your ability to adapt, learn, apply yourself and mentally fortify yourself to know that you can come back. I would recommend that all people who face challenges read Firing Back by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward for further insights.
Throughout my career, I have often used the Churchill quote to encourage me during difficult times ” Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. What matters is to have the courage to go on.” You cannot underscore the importance of having a positive mindset even in the most difficult of circumstances.
From my perspective the key learning is that you have to will yourself through. Operate from a mindset that you are never beaten. When success does not take place you can still learn from the situation. The bottom line is that you have still learned something. You need to instill this characteristic into your belief set.
In my career, I know that I could have simply thrown the towel in and retreated on several occasions in the face of extreme adversity and, at times on the surface, failure. I have been passed over for several promotions. Each time the pain stung. Again, I could have retreated in to a shell and allowed myself to be beaten down. However, I always took the time to process the situation and above all I always reminded myself that opportunities will open up, that I needed to improve my game and value myself even when others did not. This is always difficult to do and even more so in your early career. Master this, you must. Below are my top 3 personal bounce back experiences that have had the biggest influence on my career and ability to evolve as a business leader.
First, early on in my management training I was told that I would never progress beyond a restaurant manager. I loved being a restaurant manager and was proud of the accomplishment. However, I would not accept that feedback and was determined to prove my boss wrong. I hunkered down, worked hard, started to read business articles and actually entered a 4 night a week MBA program. It was a grueling schedule but it ignited a passion of mine to never stop learning. Years later, it gave me great pleasure to go on to run multiple companies. As a side note, it is important to win with humility at all times. Be a good winner.
Second, another vivid example of a career challenge of mine was losing a huge prospective client for a technology we had spent years and millions of dollars in developing. The board and investors were concerned. It was a very difficult time but candid and transparent communication with the stakeholders and a calm disposition saw the firm through the ordeal. By maintaining focus and confidence we not only overcame this setback we went on win many contracts that had far greater meaning to the company. Again, it would have been easy to crumble but having the courage to move on and move on confidently is essential.
The final example was after acquiring another large enterprise within the first 30 days two of the largest contracts were cancelled. Again, the news could have been devastating but that is when you need to show your mettle. It is important that you stay calm and know that you can and will bounce back.
Dealing with adversity is something that all people must face. People at times see a successful leader and think it has always been that way for him/her. The reality in most cases could not be further from the truth. We have many battle scars that are not visible to the eye. When boiled down we all face adversity. Your choice is how do you deal with all challenges? Whatever you are confronted with, I encourage you to go in with courage, with deep thought and a deeper conviction knowing you will prevail and will bounce back. Remain calm under pressure and at all times lead your team with confidence, respect and humility. If you face your challenges by the following Vivian Greene quote you will do well; “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
As always, thanks for listening. You can contact me direct at Deshague.com
* First published on LinkedIn