Starting and running a business can be extremely challenging. Most entrepreneurs and managers find new obstacles to remove and towering barriers to scale every day of the week.
We often encounter disruptive situations in our personal and professional lives such as a divorce, the death of a loved one, illness, the loss of a favorite customer, the departure of a valued employee, a shortage of funds, or even a lawsuit.
Successful business leaders -- or people in general -- don't give up when adversity strikes. They find the ways and means to carry on.
Sometimes, it takes a trip to hell and back to really open your eyes. And sometimes, really opening your eyes can change your whole life. If you're an entrepreneur, that means it also changes the way you see your job -- running the company you started.
I know this firsthand. During the first four years of my business journey I went from one business failure to another losing a lot of money and fair bit of my hair in the process.
These were definitely some of the darkest years in my entrepreneurial journey but I'm glad I persisted given the last two business I launched I managed to successfully exit and sell.
Whilst there were many key factors that helped me deal with this adversity, no factor was more compelling then my sense of purpose and mission for what I strive to achieve as an entrepreneur.
From the very first day of my entrepreneurial journey I made a promise to myself and the world that my purpose in business is to impact the lives of millions of people and to one day be known as one of the greatest entrepreneurs who ever walked this planet!
This was the magnet that propelled me forward. Within ever challenge I recognized that the benefits of accomplishing my overall mission dramatically outweighed whatever negative situations I encountered therefore even in the toughest times I was able to get through it.
Now this is one way to deal with it, to give you a few more perspectives on how to deal with adversity I decided to reach out to a few other entrepreneurs who have all faced extreme amounts of adversity in business so they too can share their perspective.
1) "My typical approach when faced with adversity is to look at every problem as having a solution... some solutions more palatable than others of course. These days there are resources everywhere to search for information and assistance. Having a good network is always a great idea as it is often through ones network that the solution presents itself. " -- Maureen Mulligan, Elan Learning Institute
2) "Often, the reason we don't overcome a challenge is because we don't know what to do and hence we don't try anything. For me, I focus on trying something, anything and learning from that experience. Often the only way to overcome a challenge is to fail your way towards the right outcome. We need to keep changing our approach until we get what we want." -- Niro Thambipillay, Personal Website
3) "I try and reflect on past successes and remember that they weren't flukes. Then I push myself to get out there and spend lots of time with existing and recent clients, spend more time and add more value on current work, to reinforce all the good work I've done rather than give into fear about the one thing that's going wrong." -- Nancy Halpern, KNH Associates
4) "I see setbacks, even failures as part of the growth and development process. Because we set audacious goals which will only be fulfilled through bold actions, now we can accept an occasional setback as an unintended consequence, not a life, or death situation. The key difference is our mindset -- it's only a mistake if we don't learn from it." -- Kevin Monroe, Cairnway
5) "My default philosophy in life and business is one of optimism, the glass half full approach. So when adversity strikes the first thing I always ask myself is 'what's the worst thing that could possibly happen in this situation?' And then I run through the worst case scenarios, 'we could lose the deal... my company's brand could suffer... my business could go under.'
I then ask myself how likely it is one of these doomsday scenarios might realistically occur and what steps are available to me to mitigate the situation? This approach allows me to defuse the fears or doubt I'm experiencing and quickly get focused on the steps needed to address the issue. " -- Cian Mcloughlin, Trinity Perspectives
In business, you're bound to face adversity at some point or another. The great thing about adversity is that with every trial or hardship that you go through, there is a lesson to be learned and an opportunity to be discovered.
Your character as a business owner and as an individual is not judged by the difficult times, but how you recover from those moments and your resilience towards what you can't control.
Remember that adversity isn't permanent, and there will come a day when you feel successful again, and can look back on this time and laugh. This is merely just a phase that will help you grow as a leader and become better situated to handle future problems that come your way.
One thing to remember going forward is that any pressure you feel from times of adversity is a reflection of the level of passion that you have for your work.
Stress, worry, and fear show that you are fully invested in what you do. Plan for the future, and let those around you know that you care about them and that you are all in it together.
I'm curious to know a set back you've faced in business and what you learnt from that experience? And how do you typically deal and manage adversity in business?
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