April 29, 2006

Everyone comes across numerous adversities in one's life. Some of us get bogged down by these adversities while some of us flourish in the face of it. Why some people thrive on adversity while other bow down complaining about gross injustice and bad luck? Is there a mantra to manage adversities in life? There has to be one considering the fact that adversities are constant companions, even though hated ones, in our life.

What is an adversity? The dictionary meaning is “distress or misfortune". Another way of looking at adversity would be to say that anything that doesn't fit the patterns of our conditioned consciousness and reflexes is adversity. It is a kind of disruption from the norms, which we are habituated or conditioned to think as normal. The first step to managing adversity starts with acceptance of the fact that adversity is a new kind of reality that till now had been unknown to us. It is not something to be feared about but something that has to be managed, in all likelihood with a new paradigm.

Once we have changed our outlook towards adversity, the next step is to acknowledge the presence of the particular adversity. There is no point shying away from adversity. It's best to accept it and acknowledge that it does exist. Friction generates heat and conflict and results in wastage of energy. Non-acceptance or non-acknowledgement of the presence of adversity simply creates a friction of sort in our life that wastes our energy. It’s better to accept and acknowledge its presence and reduce unnecessary friction that wastes our energy. Ensuring a path of least resistance will ensure that our energy is productively used in managing our adversities.

The next step in managing adversity is to explore and understand the positive sides of it. Adversity is not all about despair; it is equally about hope. In their book, Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude, Napolean Hill and W. Clement Stone wrote, “Every adversity has a seed of an equivalent or greater benefit”. The key perhaps lies in remaining calm and indulging in out-of-the-box thinking to strive for getting innovative insights on thriving on adversity. Adversity demands action. Thinking of adversity and sulking never helps. In managing adversity, the mental framework must change from burden to opportunity. Even challenging the logic of a situation or conventional wisdom might help. Adversity has to be thought of as a temporary disruption – a change of the status quo, a new reality. It is like a wild bull that has to be tactfully tamed and then put to some good use.

Having managed some adversities at a young age – I am still managing – I must admit that it is not easy. At times it is frustrating. At times it is painful. At times it is emotional churning. At times it feels like giving up. Yet, the spirit of overcoming adversity, which comes from viewing adversity from a different mental framework, is so powerful that all the pain, frustration, negative emotions are short lived. They occasionally do visit but the spirit of overcoming adversity overpowers them every time they rear their ugly head. It’s tough but it’s worthwhile. We never get the best things in life without slogging hard for them with determination and perseverance.

The mantra for managing adversity is simple: Take adversity as a challenge and work towards excellence.


  1. Atul // May 1, 2006 at 8:56 PM  

    Good thoughts Mayank. Agreed that it is easier said than done but yes how we deal with adversities is the difference between great lives and ordinary people. So surely should strive towards taking every adversity as a challenge.

    Also reminds me of the often repeated phrase that in Mandarin (Chinese), the word for Crisis also represents Challenge. So every crisis is a challenge if looked through the right lenses