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What do you think about when you are struggling?

After reading a blog post by Seth Godin on “Bounce Forward” and listening to the audio book “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell, I saw a theme: Adversity can be a launching pad.

We all take hits in our typical week, and in some seasons of life, it feels like “piling on” happens, when perfect storms come against us with full force–and we reel under the impact.  Often, there are losses: financial, relational, physical…  We must grieve the losses to allow our emotions to run their course, not stuffing and stifling them.

Use the “down” time to reflect as you lick your wounds. Reflection is different from a pity party, different from escapism, different from hostile responses toward others, and very different from throwing in the towel. It’s a reflection like a tennis player does between points before heading back to the line to serve again. “What could I have done to have won that point?” and “I’ll nail it next time” and “Ok, focus, my strategy for this point is…”

Did you hear that progression? Apply this formula after you grieve a loss, in order to not just get back to homeostasis (normal), but to grow past the place you were before the circumstance:

  • What could I have done to avoid the pain I just endured? Sometimes, the answer is “nothing.” Then you show grace for yourself, knowing it was out of your control. Sometimes, it’s fairly clear that you went off-road and needed to have made a healthier choice. Define it. Sometimes, it’s unclear how you got in the mess you are in, and you need a coach, counselor or good friend to debrief it until the learning emerges.
  • I’ll nail it next time. This is your self-pep-talk. This is where many of us struggle to put into an affirmation the gearing back up for success. We like to self-condemn, and it’s easier to wallow in our failure or pain. But, no! Declare your intent to get back in the game and start the slow road back through recovery to better-than-before.
  • OK, Focus! My strategy right now is….Finally, it’s all about growing forward. Look the windshield not the rearview mirror any more. Ahead is where success lies. Make a plan and start taking the first step. Then another. Pivot and iterate along the way, but keep the momentum going forward–like when your team is winning at tug-of-war. There is a moment when you breakthrough the struggle into a groove that leads to victory!

Want more encouragement in your self-leadership? Then you need to subscribe to my e-newsletter Target Practice at www.paulcasey.org–and you’ll pick up some Avoiding Burnout tips just for joining.