It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Abigail Adams
This is a difficult time in our country. Half the population is elated to have Donald Trump as their next president. The other half is devastated. Remember that 4 years and 8 years ago about half the population also felt despair about the election of Barack Obama, and regardless of how you’ve felt about past elections, I bet that in the past you’ve felt that way about something else.
And that brings us to a truth of the human experience: it sucks. Not all the time. But sometimes. There are moments in all of our lives when things are decidedly not going according to plan, when it’s hard, and when the light at the end of the tunnel can’t be seen.
At those times, we find out who we really are. It’s easy to be positive and happy and generous when times are good. But who you are when times are tough is who you really are. Tough times give us the opportunity to strengthen and hone our character against the steel of hard knocks.
When you find yourself in the midst of this kind of storm, here is my 3 step process for turning tragedy into triumph.
Step 1: Broaden Your Perspective
Ask questions like these that will broaden your perspective.
- What else is true about this situation?
- Are there compensating factors?
- Was there a positive intention or benefit you missed?
- How could the situation have been worse?
- In the big scheme of things, how important is this?
- Are you attaching a meaning to this situation that might not be true? What else could be true?
- What can you do with or learn from this situation?
- If this were serving a higher purpose, what would it be?
- How does this help you be better, faster, stronger?
- If the situation was reversed how would you feel? What can you learn that you wouldn’t discover if you weren’t in this position?
- What do you need to believe about this situation to see the gift inside the difficulty?
Step 2: Remember Your Resources
You are not going into this difficult situation with nothing. In fact, you have a ton of resources at your disposal.
- What beliefs do you have that can empower you to rise to the occasion?
- What have you learned from past experiences about weathering tough times?
- What financial resources do you have? What is good about your financial situation? What possessions do you have in your home that make your life better?
- What intellectual resources do you have? What do you know about? What could you teach someone? What passions do you have?
- What emotional resources do you have? What are your good character traits?
- What relationships do you have? Who do you love and who loves you?
- What is good about your health?
- What positive experiences have you had? What has made you the person you are today?
- What truths do you know about the human condition?
Step 3: Create Meaning & Take Action
Life is not about what happens to us. It’s about what we do and believe given our circumstances. And if you want to transform tragedy into triumph, then you must make your difficulty mean something. Meaning comes down to action. What action will you take to make your difficulty mean something more? Here are a few ideas…
- Connect with others who’ve been through the same thing.
- Share your experience to help others avoid the same thing.
- Express gratitude for how much you still have to be grateful for.
- Identify the best possible outcome given the circumstances and take an action that will bring you closer to your desired outcome.
So, Who Are You?
When times are tough.
When it’s not easy.
When things don’t go the way you expected or wanted.
When life isn’t fair.
How do you treat others?
How do you treat yourself?
What do you say?
How do you behave?
And if you’re not living up to the best that’s within you, it’s never to late. Each moment is a new opportunity to reach within, broaden your perspective, remember your resources, and make a tragedy a triumph.