How to Turn Adversity into Achievement

How to Turn Adversity into Achievement

How do you treat adversity? Do you retreat to the closet with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a bag of Oreos? Or do you bandage the bruises, dust yourself off and jump back in the game?

Adversity occurs in every life. In the business world it can come in the form of a missed promotion, a lost client, a layoff or a business failure, among other things. So, how do you deal with adversity in a way that allows you to come back stronger than ever instead of hiding in the closet? What do you do to turn adversity into achievement in your life?

Accept that it happened.

Ignoring your problem or trying to hide it will only keep you stuck in your adversity. Whether it’s a minor embarrassment or a total crash-and-burn, acknowledging that you’ve had a setback will allow you to move forward. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up, it just means that you recognize that something went wrong and you need a change.

Don’t wallow.

Pity parties don’t help. Neither does Ben & Jerry’s, Oreos or hiding in the closet. Yes, you are allowed to grieve your loss, but put a limit on it. Sackcloth and ashes doesn’t become you and won’t strengthen you or help you to bounce back. Neither will beating yourself up or continually reliving your failure.

After you’ve taken the time to grieve your adversity, or work through it, make the decision to get yourself back on track, whatever that looks like for you. Turning adversity into achievement is something that requires conscious effort rather than waiting for things to get better on their own.

supportive teammates to help turn adversity into achievement

Surround yourself with encouragement.

Find friends and family who have a positive outlook. The last thing you need in adversity is a Sad Sam to drag you down. Read positive books and blog posts, listen to uplifting music, watch movies that inspire you. Find inspiring and empowering quotes that help build your optimism.

Analyze the situation.

Take a step back and try to look at the situation objectively. What went wrong? What went right? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Once you’ve assessed the worst-case scenario, you can move on to positive outcomes. What have you learned and how can you apply it going forward? Every adversity brings an opportunity for learning and growth. It’s up to you to find it.

woman thinking creatively to turn her adversity  into achievement

Think Creatively.

Sometimes the solution isn’t obvious. Sometimes that’s what we need to learn. Step outside your comfort zone and consider ideas and solutions you haven’t tried before. Once again, adversity is an opportunity for learning and growth. Stretch yourself. Learn and grow.

Do you need some ideas to get your creative juices flowing and give yourself a recharge? Here are 12 ideas for recharging your creativity.

Get Busy.

Find something to do. Put that creative thinking to work. Get to work on making things better. Put your plan into action. If you can’t actively pursue your solution right away, find some other constructive activity to occupy your time and your mind. Too much idle time leads to wallowing.

Keep your eyes on the real prize.

Remember your goals and dreams. No failure or adversity ever need be permanent. You may have just taken a detour on the road to success, but likely there wasn’t just one way to get there anyway. As a Chinese proverb says, there are many paths to the top of the mountain but the view from the top is always the same.

there are many paths to the top of the mountain and the view from the top is always the same
So how are you handling adversity? What helps you keep moving forward? Do you have an experience where your adversity led you to a greater achievement? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

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  1. Marie,

    Thanks for another great inspirational,motivational, article. Your description, of the term “Adversity” as just another path used to reach the ultimate goal of the view from the top of the mountain, was perfect. Thanks for sharing what you write, and what you do.


  2. Nice. I agree change gives you an opportunity to perfect your craft and try again. I believe you’ve outlined some great pointers. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you, Marie. We all get setbacks at one time or another, and your encouraging words give great ideas on dealing with it.

  4. Oh nice – great tips and I generally bounce back very quickly after a very short wallow 🙂

  5. Sometimes adversity can really get to the best of us. These are great tips to follow, and sometimes we forget that not following these tips can be counter productive.

  6. I had something happen to me professionally that could’ve made me give up in a lot of ways but instead it propelled me to really go after my dreams and make them happen. I was really determined to turn that negative situation into something amazing. And now I can truly say I’m living my dream.

  7. Inlove this post-such a good reminder for us all that adversity is going to happen occasionally but we can bounce back from it-thank you for posting

  8. Well, I have to admit that I do both. I love looking at how I can turn adversity into achievement, and I love how it always works. But, I also use it as an excuse for ice cream and coconut M&Ms! Thanks for a great post Marie, you have inspired me today to take on some challenges.

  9. Marie, you got me… I do the ice cream and cookies thing, mine is just with wine and chocolate! lol. But I agree that you have to dust yourself off, and I love that you said “Get Busy”! It is hard to wallow in your sorrows when you are busy creating the life you have always imagined.

  10. In your e-mail to me, you ask if I have ever turned adversity into something positive. Here is a very personal (non-career) and life changing story.

    When I was 24, I married. After several years of conflict, we parted and divorced. I recovered and tried to start a new life by meeting many new people. After four years of dating I was discouraged because I just could not find a woman who wasn’t angry. Discouraged, I called each member of my family, reassuring them that I was okay but that I would never marry again – never have children.

    During this time I observed that many of these modern women in New York City in the 1970’s were angry at their fathers. Just an observation.

    Here comes the good part: two weeks later I received a telephone call from a young lady who had been in a class with me at NYU graduate school. She recalled that I was “smart” and “very kind.” She began the call by saying “You offered to help me if I ever needed advice.” She asked me if I thought she should pursue a doctorate in education.

    Testing my hard-earned observation, I gently asked: “What does your father think?” I sort of expected a hostile reply. But, she was stunned with positive emotion because she deeply loved and admired her father. She told me later in our relationship (we are married over 30 years, having raised three wonderful children!), that no one had ever asked her such a question and she immediately felt I had good character.

    My adversity was despair at failing to find a lover/mate. My positive discovery, was that “giving up” opened me to the unsolicited telephone from the woman who became the love of my life!

    Dr. Andy Rose

    1. What a wonderful story, Andy. Thank you so much for sharing it. Sometimes “giving up” on a goal or desire that isn’t working for us opens us up to other possibilities for actually achieving it. Congratulations on 30 years of marriage–that is quite an accomplishment in this day and age.