Guest Column: Overcoming Adversity

Overcoming Adversity

Mike Drayton

Mike Drayton is a graduate of the Million Dollar Consulting® College in London, and his firm is a member of the Summit Global Network.

Have you ever heard people say things like

·         “I never win anything”

·         “Why is it everything I touch seems to go wrong?

·         “However hard I work I never get anywhere”

At work, the excuses differ only in words, but not emotion:

·         “There’s too much red tape for me to change anything”

·         “Money is tight, and my budget has been cut”

·         “My staff is lazy”

Then there are people like 19-year-old Ayesha Ahmed…

“After nine years only being able to breathe through an oxygen machine and going through a double lung transplant I’m going to spend two weeks trekking and working in Morocco. Then I’m going to qualify as a doctor.”

(not an actual quote, but the events are true)

Or fifteen year-old Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head (but survived) by the Taliban because she wanted—was desperate–to get an education and did so despite the constant threats and danger to her life.

It seems there are two types of people: those who blame everyone else for everything that goes wrong, and those who accept their lot and make the best of it.

If you want to run a successful business or team, you have to be in the second group. Focus on what’s working for you, not what’s dragging you down. Focus on doing the things you do best better—and either don’t worry about the things you aren’t great at, or find out ways of eliminating them completely. Focus on the positive.

As well as two types of people there are two types of things: stuff you can change and stuff you can’t.

You can’t change legislation, tax, or other people. The only thing you have power to change, is yourself. You have the power to change your attitude to adverse events. However difficult things are, there’s a way out. If you want to improve performance in the workplace, improve communication and trust. If your staff is inefficient think about how you can boost efficiency by actively recognising and rewarding efficient behaviour (not just punishing inefficient behaviour).

Stop complaining about things you can’t influence, and start doing something about things you can. If you have the right attitude you can accomplish almost anything, whether it’s bungee jumping after a double lung transplant, going to school despite the risk of death, or learning to surf, when you don’t have  arms or legs.

Doesn’t sound so hard when you put it in context, does it?

Mike Drayton is a consultant and psychologist who specializes in building resilient leaders, teams and organizations. His clients have included: Cunard, The BBC and the UK Police Firearms Officers Association. He is the director of Opus Performance Limited and is website is:

© Mike Drayton 2012

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