Whether we like it or not, adversity is in an inevitable part of our life. Problems are going to happen and the secret is to know how to deal with them when it happenss. Challenges, large and small, the occur continually through our lifetime. Our attitude determines our personal reality in dealing with adversity. We know from our past experience that Nietzsche was right: “that which does not kill you will make you stronger.” We see the benefit of adversity illustrated in the 1949 British film, The Third Man, Harry lime,Played by the great actor Orson Welles, says:

“Don’t be so gloomy. After all, it’s not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? – The cuckoo clock!”

Difficult situations help us appreciate when things are going well for us. Learning to be appreciative of our blessings is enhanced by experiencing adversity. In addition every adversity has within it an opportunity for learning. Many years ago the motivational writer and speaker Napoleon Hill said: “Every adversity, every failure, every heart ache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” He also wrote in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich, this:

“Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than 500 of the most successful men in this country has ever known, told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.”

Research from the University of Kent shows that positive reframing of adversity, along with acceptance and humor are the most effective coping strategy for people dealing with failures and adversities. Researchers from the University’s school of psychology published a paper in the International Journal, Anxiety, Stress and Coping, which reported that these three approaches were the most effective in dealing with failure and setbacks. The researchers found that looking for positive aspects in the outcomes they regarded as “failures” and reframing in a more positive way were beneficial.

Og Mandino wrote a best selling motivational book, The Greatest Salesman in the World. In it he writes:

“Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats. Yet, each struggle, each defeat, sharpens your skills and strengths, your courage and your endurance, your ability and your confidence and thus each obstacle is a comrade in arms forcing you to become better – or quit. Each rebuff is an opportunity to move forward; away from them, avoid them, and you throw away your future.”

There are three suggestions for handling adversity in the blog for Shorten the Gap

  1. See the situation for what it really is. Too often we make things a lot worse than they really are. Everybody experiences problems defeat in adversity. It’s something we all experience. The first step is to see things the way they are and not worse than what they are. See it as an opportunity for you to grow. Every challenge or diversity you will ever face in your life is a period of strengthening and growth. The hard part is recognizing the gifts hidden within the shadows of the problems.
  2. Find the gifts. Look for the lessons, the gifts, that are in the situation. Within every problem adversity challenge or defeat there is some gift wraped within the problem. To find them ask yourself questions like these: what can I learn from this situation? What are the benefits it brings to me? What am I happy about in my life right now? What do I have to feel grateful for right now? Who loves me and who do I love?
  3. Focus on gratitude and contribution. Focus on being grateful and finding ways to contribute to others. Motivational speaker Tony Robbins says: “when you are grateful, fear disappears and and abundance appears.” Gratitude can defeat a motions of depression fear regret anxiety and sadness.

Haruk Murakamii Is a best-selling Japanese writer. In writing about adversity he has said:

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

I believe that trial lawyers have to have in their “tool kit” the necessary tools to deal with the inevitable adversity, anxiety and failure. Being a great lawyer involves the skills required to fight on after suffering obstacles. One of my favorite lines is from John Dryden’s poem, Johnny Armstrong Last Goodnight “Fight on my merry men all, I’m a little wounded, but I am not slain; I will lay me down for to bleed a while, then I’ll rise and fight with you again.” In the words of William Ernst Henley poem Invictus We need to say: “under the bludgeoning of chance my head is bloody, but unbowed.”

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