Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Developing Your Adversity Muscle

At one time in your work life, you’ve probably tried it. A crisis arises and you do what you’ve been told will help: You breathe deeply, close your eyes, focus, and repeat something like “I can do it.”

And when you open your eyes, the crisis is still there and you’re no closer to a solution than when you started puffing away and sounding like the little engine that could.

Why is it some people are better able to handle tough times at work? Part of the problem may be that some of us are too accustomed to whining when things go wrong. Instead of dealing with problems, we become stuck in a cycle of blaming other people or targeting others with criticism that does little to help us overcome adversity. Further, some of us deal with difficult issues by just ignoring them, becoming more distanced from our own success because we won't address the hurdles in our way.

But there are several problems with these strategies, namely that they not only hurt careers, but they directly impact a company's bottom line. Organizations who have employees who cannot deal with adversity and move on are destined to be bogged down in discord and indecision.

If you want to become someone who is better able to deal with adversity and find ways to turn tough times into possibilities, try:

* Taking the wheel. How much control do you think you have over the problem? What can you do to impact the outcome? The more control you think you have, the better able you will be to react in a positive, productive way.

* Making yourself accountable. Whether or not you caused a problem doesn't matter as much as whether you're willing to step up to the plate and try to deal with it. Making yourself a victim won't help, but taking ownership and finding a solution will develop your ability to deal with adversity -- and that's something that bosses value.

* Keeping it in perspective. If you feel like you're standing in front of a runaway train when you have a conflict, you're more likely to feel the impact in all areas of your life. It's important to keep the work adversity in control, and try not to let it impact other areas of your life.

* Setting limits. Think about how long the adversity will continue, and tell yourself that it will end at some point. By looking for hope in even the toughest situations, you're saying to yourself that you're not willing to let this situation drag on forever. Such a mindset makes it easier to endure the tough times.


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