Adversity: Life’s Sandpaper

“Adversity has a tendency to show up early and stay late.”  -Skip Heitzig

Whether we are five or fifty-five, we all have difficulties to face, our mountains to climb, chasms to cross, and burdens to bear.  It is just a natural part of life.

And no matter how much we try to insulate ourselves and or our loved ones, we cannot and will not be able to avoid adversity.

Avoidance is not an option, adversity is mandatory.

We will always have issues, hardships, trials, tribulations, troubles, setbacks, and even people, that we will have to face.  It is a part of life and always will be.

And yet…

We do very little to improve our ability to deal with adversity, to handle life’s far too common setbacks.  We remain very reactive in how we deal with adversity.   Instead of learning how to manage discomfort, we have a tendency to avoid and run from it.  Which is unfortunate, for very often our leadership stamina, strength and grit is forged in the midst of those very trials and tribulations.  Life lessons that are never learned or internalized when we avoid, when we jump ship every time the ride gets rough and rocky.  We have to take another approach to adversity.

Adversity is a two-sided coin, it can serve to grow and strengthen our leadership or can stifle and diminish it.  It’s all in our approach and attitude.

It’s all in our mindset.

It’s all in our perception, and how we view and internalize adversity.  We can see it as a chance to grow and learn, or just another bump in the road to slow us down.  Just another hurdle that causes more grief and hardship.

Yet, it is in our perception (our mindset) that we have the opportunity to really change ourselves in those critical moments, as we approach those chasms and mountains that stand in our way.  To change how we get over them, through them, or even around them.

To rewire those neural pathways…and change our initial approach to adversity.

How we handle adversity always returns to the same inhibiting factor, our mindset.  And while it may be deeply embedded, it can always be changed.  Rewired.

It is up to us to understand that our outlook is just that, our outlook.  We choose each day, each time, how we will mentally tackle the adversity we face in our lives.

Which is why we do a greater service when we help ourselves and those around us to not only reflect upon, but to take a proactive approach in creating their mindset prior to facing the adversity that life is more than willing to dish out.  Instead of spending that time uselessly trying to shield ourselves and others from it.

The more time we spend reframing our mindset (our neural pathways) in regards to how we perceive and go at the adversity that stands in our way…the more we grow as leaders and in our leadership.

Adversity can serve as the field upon which leaders gain…stamina, perseverance, tolerance, grit, and a growth mindset…

In the end, it is about teaching ourselves and those we lead…

That it is less about “having to go through this” and more about “learning through this.”

Adversity is life’s sandpaper, it has a tendency to smooth out the rough edges add to the character of our leadership.


2 thoughts on “Adversity: Life’s Sandpaper

  1. Talking through this mindset with our colleagues and our students is critical and helps to cultivate a growth mindset rich environment. Growth mindset thinking should be prevalent wherever we are in a school and needs to be the prevailing theme of the numerous discussions that we have should it stick and take hold. Enjoyed this post David.

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