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Get through the stuff

When my son was in high school, his soccer team had an undefeated regular season.

I only remember them trailing once, and that was briefly in the first half of one game. Everything went their way. They had no major injuries and really only one close game. They were clearly a very strong team.

In the first game of the sectional playoff, they played a team they had beaten previously. Their opponent scored two quick, unexpected goals. My son’s team was in a spot they weren’t used to, and they didn’t handle it very well. They panicked. When the third goal was scored they went into meltdown. They argued with each other. They blamed the refs. They regained their composure in the second half, but it was too late. A team that had the talent to win a state championship fell 5-2 in the sectionals.

We don’t like adversity. It isn’t fun, but it is essential for success. It is like training for a race or an athletic event. Our muscles need to be worked in order to get stronger. Easy workouts don’t get our muscles and cardio system ready to run 13 miles. In preparation for a half marathon, our last training run is 12 miles. This is as much for mental preparation as physical preparation. We know mentally if we can run 12, we can run 13 miles.

Teams that experience adversity and overcome it are mentally stronger. As a coach, I can’t script adversity. We don’t have to, it seems to find us because we play a tough schedule. We want them prepared for the playoffs. The best thing I can do is to teach my players how to handle adversity and how to use adversity to make them mentally stronger.

Every relationship has “stuff” to deal with. How many young couples have said, “I do” and agree, “Till death do us part.” But when things get tough or someone else looks better, they forget their vows and give up. Every relationship has that point where the couple can come together or they can fall apart. The stuff could be a military deployment, sickness of a child, financial problems or any number of other challenges. If the couple survives the challenge and stays together, their relationship becomes stronger.

Businesses and even organizations like churches and other non-profits will face “stuff” in many forms of adversity. Sometimes the stuff is people issues, sometimes it is financial. It can be regulatory. No organization is immune.

In the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is facing major adversity because of the actions of a previous bishop. Just getting rid of the guy isn’t enough. The new bishop and his new team have to earn back the trust of the faithful. This isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen quickly.

At Shale Crescent USA, we have had to deal with adversity. There are many things we can’t control. Our goal is to get our message to companies around the world and bring them here to create jobs. This is a big, tough goal. It invites adversity. We are fortunate to have leaders that have dealt with and overcome adversity in their personal lives and business. They understand mental toughness. We continue to become stronger as an organization.

How can we deal with the “stuff” we will face in the relationships and organizations we are part of? Here are some thoughts that may help.

* Have a strong goal or vision. The more passionate people are about the goal or vision, the easier it is to deal with adversity. When faced with adversity, refocus on the vision. If a couple is serious about spending their life together, they will survive their first quarrel and learn from it. If they are “trying out” marriage without a serious commitment, they may not.

* Aim high. Have a big goal or vision. Stretch yourself. This invites adversity that will strengthen the individual or organization.

* Know that stuff will happen. Be prepared to deal with it.

* Keep a positive attitude.

* Focus on the solution not the problem.

* Don’t make it personal. Don’t blame. Rarely is a problem “all someone’s fault.” There are many factors.

* Focus on the important, and let go of the trivial.

* Practice good communication and listening skills. Some problems are simple misunderstandings. I watched two people disagree until their faces were red with anger. They were shouting at each other. I intervened and told them, “You are both saying exactly the same thing. You aren’t listening to each other.” Embarrassed, they both shut up and walked away.

* What doesn’t destroy us can make us stronger. When my wife was in a serious car accident a few years ago, I became her caregiver. Both our lives changed. It was tough. It also made us even stronger as a couple. I have seen adversity destroy some teams and organizations. I have also seen teams and organizations where adversity was the reason for their success. They learned from it and became stronger.

We need positivity and belief to get through the stuff and deal with the adversity it will take to achieve our goals and vision. Spend your time with successful, positive people. Avoid toxic, negative people. Read positive books or listen to recordings by positive people. Adversity can be the fuel to your dreams.

Thoughts to ponder.

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Greg Kozera is the director of marketing and sales for Shale Crescent USA, with more than 40 years experience in the energy industry, and the author of four books.

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