Being resilient is a foundation stone of your mental toughness. Developing the resolve and tenacity to push through the tough times and recover from adversity can be difficult though when you are feeling overwhelmed and helpless. If you don’t have any recent reference points to feeling resilient, it can seem an impossible task to become strong and determined. This short post by Bernard Coleman III, Uber’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, on ‘not giving up’ caught my eye because of his illustration of the useful LEAP approach.
His post is reproduced below from the excellent Forbes magazine:
Adversity, struggle, setbacks and the like are awful feelings. They create discomfort, pain and, at times, self-doubt. However, in adversity, we can derive strengths we didn’t know we had. Only in struggle can we learn and grow. More is learned in losses than in wins.
It’s OK to get down, but do not dwell in despondency. Understand that struggle is temporary and what you learn from it lasts forever. Therein lies strength persistence, perseverance and grit.
Take it from author Angela Duckworth, who said in a TED Talk: “Grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low-level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals that demand more tenacity. The maturation story is that we develop the capacity for long-term passion and perseverance as we get older.”
Bouncing back from adversity is never easy. It can be incredibly demoralizing. But it doesn’t have to be for too long. When I’ve faced adversity in the past, I’ve used the LEAP approach I came up with a few years back to help power myself through challenges.
What did the setback teach you? This is especially important to examine. Adversity is a gift. Don’t run from it, but embrace the lessons it provides. Often, when things don’t go my way, I get sad for a bit, lick my wounds, sit with myself and ask, “What lessons can be learned here?” Learning through the struggle makes for a stronger you tomorrow.
In biology, we develop by a process of evolution to a different adaptive state or condition. Simply put, we change. That’s the epitome of transforming struggle into strength. History shows we evolve how we think, evolve in nature and adapt based on the conditions of the day. Embrace these changes and use them as opportunities for growth. Otherwise, if one fails to adapt, they likely will result in obsolescence.
According to Carol Dweck, author of ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “the passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
Why did you lose? Often, when people win, they seldom look back to see why they were victorious. They just move on. There is great value in assessing what helped you win, what caused you to lose and what needs to be done to win next time or to continue winning. Introspection is paramount to continually turning struggle into strength. Athletes are known to review videos of their performance to detect their weaknesses and optimize their advantages. Great project managers revisit projects for a post-mortem assessment to understand what could have been done better or differently. Constant critique and honest assessment allow for sustained growth.
After using what you learned, understanding what you need to change, and conducting a 360 assessment of what went well and what didn’t, you’re now ready to make your plan. Intentions are well and good, but without a clear plan, those intentions will never progress to action. Plan, prepare and execute.
I’ll close with words from championship-winning NBA coach Pat Riley, “You have no choices about how you lose, but you do have a choice about how you come back and prepare to win again.”