Finding the Positive in the Face of Adversity
A Needed Skill Every Entrepreneur and Business Owner Should Cultivate
A positive mindset can be the primary factor that determines success.
"An optimist finds an opportunity in every difficulty; a pessimist finds a difficulty in every opportunity." - Winston Churchill This is the quote to ponder on this Monday morning mindset episode of The Passive Income Examiner. When faced with adversity how do you handle the situation? Do you find yourself obsessing and toiling over the problem until it is resolved or do you naturally expect a positive outcome?
In this episode, Lindsay explores this question within herself and demonstrates how to cultivate an optimistic mindset in the hardest moments when controlling emotion is the most difficult. We all face adversity whether it be in business or in life, knowing how to discover the positive is a skill worth learning.
I encourage you to ask yourself this question, “Do I typically look for opportunity in adversity? Or do I look for difficulty in opportunity?”
There are a certain number of individuals in the world who pride themselves on looking for the adversity in a situation because they don’t want to be duped and because they believe it is better to be prepared for the worst, just in case.
Now, let me stop y’all right here and say, I agree with you. It is important to think through a situation and be ready for anything that may come.
But, let’s talk about situations in which you can’t see it coming - perhaps a scary or unexpected turn of events is sprung on you. Moments when your mind and body are reacting to circumstances, moments where you don’t have the luxury of thinking things through. What is your first reaction…. Do you expect something positive to come from something negative or do you toil and fret until the situation is resolved and you can relax?
Check-in with Yourself
Just being honest - I think most people, myself included, are more likely to react and toil and fret until the situation is resolved.
It takes an immense amount of mental strength to stay calm in the face of adversity, doesn’t it?
Say, for example, a big client is upset and threatening to fire your company - perhaps they represent a large portion of the business. Or maybe, a sudden health crisis is keeping you from being able to move forward with your big plans. Or what about your best employee putting in their notice leaving you with two weeks or less to find, hire, and train a key person in your business.
Optimism Can Be Learned
Day to day business owners and entrepreneurs face adversity. How we cope with those situations could be the determining factor in our success.
What if I told you, optimism - in the way Mr. Churchill defines it - can be cultivated and self-taught? More importantly, what if I told you that learning that skill will make a massive impact on your success in your career, your mental fortitude, and your personal relationships?
You see, our brains are inclined to obsess over problems until we solve them, like a complex puzzle, it is actually engaging and can even feel satisfying. The downside to that however is when we are obsessing over a problem, rarely are we in a positive mental place - a place that opens our minds up to creative solutions.
We have all had a moment or two in conversation when we were trying to recall the name of a person or a movie title, right? And the harder we tried to think about the name the more it eluded us. We often shrug it off and say, “I’ll probably remember it in the middle of the night, or when I stop trying so hard.” Why do you suppose that is? When we are under stress our brain is not at its best, but when we are in a calm relaxed place we get clarity about things.
The same is true when facing adversity, but as I said, it is often easier said than done.
If what I am saying has you nodding and thinking, Yes, this makes sense, then the next step is to apply the philosophy.
You’ll see the next time you are faced with adversity it may be hard to stop toiling over the problem. So, how can you expand your mind for clarity? How can you push pause on the brain's incessant need to problem solve so you can see a solution or opportunity?
For starters, believe in the possibility. I think this is the most transformative thought process I have ever used. Truth be told, I used to be a fake optimist. One of those people who on the outside pretended everything was fine and put on a front as though I was so confident things were working out magically, but inside I was fretting and toiling and obsessing.
One day, I caught myself and called myself out on my two faced bologna. Frankly speaking, when I finally saw what I was doing, I was mildly disgusted with myself.
That is when I began trying to determine how to be optimistic while simultaneously allowing myself to have feelings. Let’s face it - it is not always healthy to stuff emotions especially over the long term, but also letting emotions rule our lives is not wise either. Where was the balance I wondered?
For me, it was in looking at the possibility - It gave me a door to walk through that allowed me to look on the bright side whilst simultaneously giving myself permission to feel and acknowledge the emotional state I was in.
If you are facing adversity right now, in life or in business, spend time each day believing in the possibility that it can be worked out. Let’s be real - you won’t be facing the exact same issues years from now, so logic says, it will work out somehow. The only real question is HOW will it work out.
When you can put hope in your heart and a belief in your mind that things will work out, you will experience a shift of consciousness within yourself - your brain will actually start being open to seeing possible positive ways the problem can end rather than fixating on the worst case.
Recently I spoke about the reticulated activating system. It is a part of your subconscious mind that essentially acts like a bot looking for whatever it is programmed to find. It is the part of your brain that suddenly notices every orange Prius on the road because you started thinking about buying an orange prius where before you never noticed them.
By believing in possibility you activate the Reticulated Activating System within your brain to search for positive outcomes and thus actually teach yourself to become more optimistic.
Now, I don’t know if Winston Churchill believed people are inherently optimistic or pessimistic, or if he believed people could train themselves to be more optimistic, but when I read his quote it caused me to pause and re-evaluate myself by asking myself if I was truly an optimist.
The result is that I am not as naturally optimistic as I would like to think I am, I know I am more optimistic than some other people in my life.
Like many things, the answer is not black and white. While I can be optimistic about other people and their situations, I am not always quick to see the opportunity in my own adversity, but I do have a skill that helps me open up to possibility whereas previously I would not.
Recently I was faced with a serious adversity. And although I prefer not to share the intricacies of the situation, I can share the mindset I experienced through the challenge.
At first, I was in a state of panic and shock. So much so that I was shaking and my stomach was ill. I was flat out scared. That my friends is not an emotion that is easily shoved aside as many of you well know.
I was able to calm myself by remembering that I don’t need to solve the problem right now and certainly not in this frame of mind.
But, the truth is, I did not see any positive or upside to what I was facing. In that moment all I could see was doom and crisis.
Honestly, it was about a week later before I finally even began imagining an up side and that became evident after I noticed all the things I didn’t like about the situation - Ironically the up side came from looking at the down side.
In a way, looking at the down sides helped me gain clarity about what I did want in my future, which, funnily enough, was more in alignment with my personal philosophies anyway.
In truth, if this big scary thing had not happened, I might be spending who knows how long living out of alignment with the truth inside of me - following a path that was a temporary solution financially rather than a long term joy filled solution.
So, to Winston Churchill and all of those listening to this show I say, yes an optimist may be able to find opportunity in adversity; however, it does not have to happen at the onset, sometimes it takes time and all that matters is that we work towards that a little more every day.
With that my friends I am signing off until next time. Bye for now.