Adversity: The Catalyst For Learning

Most of the time we don’t choose our adversity, but all of the time we can choose our response to it.”  

 

John Maxwell wrote this powerful statement of truth in his latest book, Sometimes You Win – Sometimes You Learn. How true it is that “most of the time we don’t choose our adversity, but all of the time we can choose our response to it!” As leaders and human beings, to a very large extent our success, or lack thereof, is determined by how we respond to adversity.

 

Great leaders leverage adversity in order to achieve even greater results. Poor leaders allow adversity to determine their results and legacy.

 

Great leaders model, coach, and teach their followers and team members to purposefully turn adversity into even greater personal, professional, and organizational achievements. Poor leaders blame adversity for their lack of success and failure to reach their full potential.

 

Not long after high school, I had a job spot welding coin telephones. For eight very long hours a day, I stood at an assembly line, picking up partially completed coin telephones. My job was to complete the spot welding that would hold the coin telephones together for decades to come. I absolutely hated this job. Not only was it the graveyard shift, 11 PM to 7 AM, it was extremely boring work. In addition, the environment and culture within the manufacturing plant was everything a great leader would absolutely abhor.

 

At first, during breaks, I would comment to coworkers regarding my dissatisfaction with the environment and work. I quickly learned that all they wanted to talk about was how terrible the company was, how low the pay and benefits were, and how the union should solve all of these problems.

 

When I began commenting that, “I am going to get out of here and go back to college,” my coworkers laughed and ridiculed me, stating that “I would be there forever, just like them.”

 

Within a few weeks, I resigned and removed myself from this terrible, demoralizing, dead-end environment and situation. I happen to know that a number of my coworkers spent the next 30 years working in that situation.

 

The adversity surrounding all aspects of that job has been a major factor in any success I have had as a leader. Hundreds, probably thousands of times over the last 45 years, I have used the memories of that adversity to inspire me to greater personal, professional and organizational success.

 

“Most of the time we don’t choose our adversity, but all of the time we can choose our response to it.”

 

NielsenCopyright © 2014 by Dan Nielsen – www.dannielsen.com

National Institute for Healthcare Leadership – www.nihcl.com

America’s Healthcare Leaders – www.americashealthcareleaders.com

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