Finding Strength In Times of Adversity

This may be a pretty big assumption but I will make it anyway, we will have times where we will face major adversity in our lives. This adversity will come as a result of losing ones job, death of a family member, financial shortfalls, marriage problems and thousands of others ways. We have also probably all heard that we need to be strong during those times. Well guess what? It’s true.

To make a quick analogy I will put it this way because I am one who actually makes this statement quite often, “if it’s good for you it probably doesn’t test good.” Now, I know this is not 100% true but stay with me on this. Let’s say it does not taste good but it does make you healthier, it does give you energy to exercise, it does provide the right nutrients to help your muscles recover and so on. So what is actually happening is while I am “forcing” myself to eat this healthy food (adversity), I am actually providing much needed strength to my body.

So it finding strength in times of adversity is so critical, how does one go about doing it? Here are some quick ways that have helped me:

  1. Take a step back and see the bigger picture. Too many times when a challenge or trial enters our life we react in ways that can often make things worse. It is crucial to be able to try and see the challenge within a larger picture. This will help provide perspective and can even help you to see that maybe things are not as bad as they have initially appeared.
  2. Be positive. There is a difference between being positive and happy. Being positive means you are focused on seeing the good in things and pushing forward. Being positive means you refuse to sit and talk about all the bad things that led to this specific trial or adversity. Being positive means you put into action a plan to make things better.
  3. Find a go to partner. You will need to talk with someone. This person maybe different based on the type of challenge but be sure you have a trusted person you can speak with. It maybe your wife, a close friend, a past boss, a sibling or your church leaders. The key is, you need to find someone so you do not feel so alone.
  4. Note the lessons learned. Be sure and grab a pen and paper and write down your feelings. Within those writings, be sure and note what you have learned about the adversity you are facing. This can be so helpful as there will be times in the future where you will face a similar challenge or someone you know will. These writings can be key in helping you or them through the situation.

I will be the first to admit that finding strength during times of adversity is actually a lot easier to say than do. However, I have found that there is so much peace, comfort and joy that comes as I apply the four points above. There is nothing wrong when we are faced with adversity, in fact it is a sign we are normal.

As crazy as this may sound, I am thankful for those times in my life when I struggle as it brings me to my knees and reminds me that I am human. It reminds me to swallow my pride and look to others for support. I will always be thankful for those who have been there for me and hope I am someone that others can lean in their times of need. Leaders find way to turn times of challenge into learning and teaching opportunities. Most likely because this is an area where more people can relate unfortunately.

One last thought, as you learn to find strength in times of adversity, you will feel more empowered  When you feel empowered, there are no limits to what you can achieve so do all you can to find that strength so you can feel empowered.

Now, it is time to pump some adversity.

Seth

A More Serious Post, Pro-Friend

I am going to take the liberty to share my feelings about something that has taken up quite a bit of my thinking time lately. You may or may not know that October is Bully Prevention Month. The goal is bring more and more attention to a growing problem in our world today, bullying.

Instead of focusing on the actual topic of bullying or anti-bullying, I want to share what happens when we take a different approach. I will start by asking this question, what if we were more proactive in befriending others than reactive in bullying them?

Take sometime and really ponder this question, let it sink into your mind and heart. When you have done this, come back to finish reading the rest of this post.

We all want acceptance; we all want to know that there are others who care about us. We all need someone to talk too, someone who will listen without judging. In short, we all need a good friend or friends. It is important to understand that if this is what you want, then you need to be a good friend. This means that you will most likely need to be proactive in building relationships with others. This may not be normal or easy but it is necessary. If you sit back and wait, you will most likely be in a more reactive situation. When we are reactive, we tend to find ourselves in situations that are less than pleasant; this can be especially true when it comes to friends. I have to say; I do like that they use the word Bully Prevention rather than Anti-Bully for as it shows a more proactive approach.

I am truly heartbroken every time I hear, see or read about someone being bullied and the impacts that it has on them. On the flip side, I am overpowered with emotions of pride, joy and hope when I hear, see or read about someone who has overcome the torment of bullying. The truth is, bullying is devastating, for everyone involved.

I have been bullied, my siblings have been bullied, my friends have been bullied, there were times in my past where I actually bullied others, to be in with the popular kids. The impacts have painful to say the least. There has been heartbreak, sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration and even revenge. However, what I have come to realize is that the more proactive I have been in establishing friendships, the less bullying situations I have seen. See there is something that that happens when you extend a friendship, it eliminates the need to find fault, make fun of or hurt the other person. You can’t help but feel good as you become a friend to someone or you gain a new friend. Friends don’t let friends bully, or at least they shouldn’t.

I asked at the beginning of this post for you to ponder the question, what if we were more proactive in befriending others than reactive in bullying them? If our youth could really take this question to heart, we could see real change. We would begin to see situations where teenagers are no longer feeling like the only way out is to end their own life or rebel to the point of injuring others. We would see respect become a more dominant characteristic with our youth and adults. We would see situations of people extended their hand in genuine friendship and in turn, we would see a better world. The real challenge here is that talk is cheap. Actions truly do speak louder than words. There is no better time than right now for parents to encourage their teenagers to be more kind and loving towards others. There is no better time for youth to find ways to build friendships rather than judge what she is wearing or how overweight he is. This life is short and if we all cared enough about how others felt, we would then know a better, more productive world.

Since this blog is about leadership and finding the hero within us, I will close by saying that leaders don’t bully. Leaders find ways to be proactive in ensuring others feel included, that they do not feel left out. Leaders don’t find fault in ways that are going to hurt others. Leaders give strength, leaders help others feel empowered, leaders show courage, leaders stand up for others. To put it simply, leaders end up being heroes and heroes end up being leaders. Thus, this world needs more heroes.

I invite you to make it a priority this week to find some new friends. This does not mean you lose your current ones, it means you are adding new friends. I also invite you to become a friend to others. Be courageous and say hi to the new girl in your school or invite that boy that you noticed never talks with anyone to the football game. The rewards that come from you finding your inner hero are too numerous. What is the worst thing that can happen, you become a better person? Sounds like a risk worth taking.

 Be A Hero!

The Importance of Feedback

Most people have been in a place where you have experienced that piercing, loud body cringing sound when there is feedback from a microphone. People quickly cover their ears and begin to look around to see what is going on. You then see the person with the microphone either step away from the speaker or other type of potential interference or they may just turn off the microphone temporarily. If we take a different view on this situation we can find one of the most important aspects of leadership.

Once the feedback from the sound system became loud enough, it caused an action. For the audience the action was to cover their ears and look around to see what was going on and for the speaker or person setting up the sound the response was to move away from potential interference or turn off the microphone. What we have here is a clear example of how important it is to learn from feedback.

As leaders develop the ability and skill in learning how to receive, accept and utilize feedback, they will begin to elevate themselves to an higher level of leadership. See, when you find a leader who is willing to not only receive feedback but accept it and then try to get better, you have found a rare leader. It is this rare leader that possesses the right balance of confidence, humility and understanding. When a leader is willing and open for feedback the lines of communication become clear. But more importantly, it allows communication to happen. As a leader listens to find ways they can improve, they are actually helping to empower the person providing the feedback. It is this empowerment that can create a culture where people can reach their greatest potential.

Here are some ways to help accept feedback better as a leader:

  1. Proactively Seek Feedback: Although some may look at you skeptical at first as you ask for their feedback on how you are doing, they will eventually open up if they know you are sincere. You must allow them to share what they need to share so they can be honest and true feedback can take place. Be specific on what areas you are looking for feedback so you can focus on the information provided to you.
  2. Don’t Get Defensive: This sounds much easier than it is in most cases. As a leader, you have to be able to separate your feelings from situations when needed. You cannot take everything personal or you will set yourself up and your team for failure. You need to have the confidence and trust that what the other person is sharing is indeed important enough to them that they felt the need to share with you. Being humble really helps to eliminate the feelings of defensiveness.
  3. Take Action: Whenever possible, once you have received feedback, take action. Nothing will show someone you value their feedback more than when you actually do something. Some actions may be simple and easy to do while others may take time. Either way, find a way to show that you actively listened to the other person and want to support them. If action is not possible, provide potential solutions or ideas and find ways to work together. This will help ensure your credibility as a leader.
  4. Be Appreciative: You don’t need to go overboard in thanking someone for providing feedback but giving thanks and true appreciation goes along way. When you do this you ensure that communication channels stay open. When you are genuinely thankful for someone being willing to provide feedback, you show that you are a team player and you want success for everyone. Maybe most importantly when you show your thanks, you truly empower others as they will feel valued.

It is important to realize that receiving feedback is not always easy. We are human and when we are told that we aren’t doing something right or that we are causing more issues by doing what we are doing, it can be tough. However, we also have to realize that without feedback we would be left up to our own perception of ourselves and as a leader that can often lead to disaster. As with the example of the feedback from the microphone, we can either learn and make changes to improve things or we can simply ignore and watch those we lead cover their ears and look around to see what is going on.

Decide now to become the type of leader that is confident and humble enough to accept feedback. You will inspire your team to greatness as you learn from them and with them. Feedback can be an incredibly positive way to ensure success.