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Aug 8, 2007

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Turn Adversity into Opportunity

Turn Adversity into Opportunity

A life without obstacles is as good as dead. Whether they are
everyday problems or crisis situations, how we handle them will
determine how good we are as a leader. The weak leaders
crumble when the odds stack up and surrender even before any
attempt to overcome the obstacles. The great and successful
leaders on the other hand see adversity as a challenge. Against
all odds, they rise above the difficulties and land up scaling
greater heights than before. They do not merely survive the
adversity, they thrive. Leaders should continually conquer
adversity and, amid the chaos, look out for new opportunities to
undertake and excel in. Like the old mule in our fable, once we
have set our minds to clear all the obstacles, we will succeed in
any endeavor.

Story:

Old Mule in Well

Turn Adversity into Opportunity

A farmer owned an old mule. One day, the mule fell into the
farmer's well. The mule brayed loudly and caught the attention
of the farmer. Upon assessing the situation, the farmer ruled out
any possibility of a rescue as it was simply too much trouble to
lift the mule out of the well. Out of sympathy for the animal, he
decided to enlist his neighbors' help to haul dirt into the well to
put the mule out of his misery.

The old mule was hysterical upon learning that his life would
thus end. However, as the farmer and the neighbors shoveled
the dirt into the well, a thought struck the old mule. He realized
that if he could shake off every dirt that landed on his back, the
dirt would hit the floor and he could step on the dirt.

Shovel after shovel, he continued relentlessly to shake off the
dirt and step on top of it. He fought the sense of panic and
distress and just went on shaking off the dirt and climbing
higher up the well.

With much determination and perseverance, the old mule
eventually stepped out the well, battered and exhausted, but
otherwise triumphant that he had survived the ordeal. Through
the way he handled the situation of adversity, the act of burying
him in fact saved his life.

Moral:

There is a solution to every problem.
Never give up.
Adversity creates opportunity.

Quotable Quotes:

“There is no education like adversity.” ... Benjamin Disraeli

“Defeat doesn't finish a man – quit does. A man is not
finished when he's defeated. He's finished when he quits.”
... Richard Milhous Nixon

“Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.”

... William Shakespeare

“To me success can only be achieved through repeated
failure and introspection. In fact, success represents 1
per cent of your work which results from the 99 per cent
that is called failure.” ... Soichiro Honda

“It is not impossibilities which fill us with deepest despair,
but possibilities which we have failed to realize.”
... Robert Mallet

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful
men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is
almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of
educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone
are omnipotent. The slogan, “Press on,” has solved and
always will solve the problems of the human race.”
... Calvin Coolidge

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

We can never have a completely smooth career. Now and then,
we will be plagued by ill health, unemployment, financial woes,
relationship problems and all sorts of accidents, disasters or
misfortunes. All of us react differently to such adversities.
Some take them so negatively that they are 'buried' by the
problems. Many others somehow manage to overcome these
obstacles and grow from the experience. There is yet another
group of people who thrive even better than before the
adversity event. These are the ones with high adversity
quotient (AQ) scores and see obstacles as a challenge rather
than an impediment.

Which category do you fall under? Do you value staff who are
able to respond well in adversities? Have you personally turned
any difficult situation or failure into an opportunity?

Adversity Quotient targets four components of perception of
the adversity:-

Control – how much control over the adversity
Ownership – accountability and responsibility over the outcome
Scope – how far it affects other aspects of life
Endurance – how long it lasts

If you are interested to learn more about AQ, check out this
latest book by Erik Weihenmayer and Paul Stoltz, The
Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles into
Everyday Greatness, offering valuable tips on harnessing
the power of adversity and turning adversities into an
advantage.

For this article, we shall give you more inspiring failure-to-
success stories for you to talk about.

1. Walt Disney had a marvelous business idea and needed
funds to start up his business. He approached the banks for a
loan and every one turned him down. He did not give up and
after visiting hundreds of banks, got his loan approved and
brought the World of Disney characters into our lives.

2. We know Michael Jordan to be the legendary basketball
player. Do we also know that he failed to get into his high
school basketball team? With perseverance, Jordan worked
hard at his training for a year before he made the team.

3. At the age of 14, Bill Gates had already started two
companies. Although they did not last long, that did not stop
him from dropping out of Harvard to venture into mainframe
computer programming and founding the Microsoft
Corporation.

4. Thomas Edison invented the first prototype light bulb in
1878 consisting of a thin strip of paper for the filament.
Although it gave off light, the paper burnt too quickly for it to
be commercially viable. His student was giving up hope.
Edison's positive reply was that they had found 999 ways not
to make the light bulb and were therefore one step closer to
success.

5. Colonel Harland Sanders was living on social security funds
but knew that he had a good recipe for his fried chicken. Since
he could not afford to start a business, he resorted to selling
his recipe. Every restaurant he visited, he cooked for the owner,
and sold his recipe on a franchise basis (a nickel for each piece
of chicken sold). Over a period of 12 years, his franchised
Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets totaled more than 600.

6. Sir Winston Churchill had speech impediment when young
and took three years to get through eighth grade. He overcame
all that to become the British prime minister and a recipient of
the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953.

7. Although Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to scale
Mount Everest, it was not without failures. He had attempted in
1952 but failed. It was in 1953 that he made another attempt and
succeeded.

8. Celebrity billionaire and talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, had a
troubled childhood. She claimed that she was molested at the age
of 9 by her cousin and uncle. She ran away from home and was
pregnant at the young age of 14. Putting all these troubles aside,
she worked hard at her studies, obtained a scholarship, and
pursued a media career which made her one of the most
influential woman in history.

9. Like many of us, Zig Ziglar was not born with a silver spoon in
his mouth. He had to work his way through school and his initial
business did not kick off. It was with a positive attitude that he
saw success in his failures and became one of the most respected
motivational authors.

10. Finally, a story of a baby elephant born into a circus. It was
trained from young to perform, and after each training, its ankles
were chained to the ground. The elephant had tried to escape, but
the chains held fast. Years later, the elephant grew to its full adult
size. The chain tied to its ankles was however still the same old
chain. If the adult elephant had tugged at the chain, it could have
freed itself. Alas, the elephant had over the years grown up
believing that the chain could not be broken. It had thus given up
trying. Before your mind is equally conditioned to think the same,
always know that if there is no venture, there is no gain.
Never give up trying!

Related Articles:

Leaders must be decisive
Trust Gut Instincts and Intuition
Problem Solving: Define Problem
Self Help, Perseverance and Success

Books worth reading:

The title Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days
says it all. Jessica Livingston has a wonderful collection of
the insights by famous founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple),
Caterina Fake (Flickr), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Max Levchin
(PayPal), and Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail) on the problems they
faced during their startups and how they overcame them to
build their businesses to what we see today.

If you are curious to know what your AQ scores might be, try
out the questionnaires in Paul G. Stoltz's earlier book
Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities.
It explains all you need to know about this measure of
resilience and ability to respond to difficult situations. For
business executives, this may be an additional tool to pick the
top performers in your workplace.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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4 comments:

Market Research Services said...

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Anonymous said...

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I will be glad to receive any assistance at the beginning.
Thanks in advance and good luck! :)

Anonymous said...

What's up

This is my first post here.. Hello to everyone!

See you

Anonymous said...

Buenas noches

It is my first time here. I just wanted to say hi!

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVES

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