No matter what is going on around us, adversity is everyone. Sometimes, like now, more people are facing adversity than at any other time in our memories. But even during times of peace and economic expansion, adversity is everywhere.

Individuals face personal and career challenges in good times and bad. Businesses struggle to serve their patients or customers and support team members during economic expansion and contraction. 

Whether it’s large or small, adversity is a constant. It’s how we respond to adversity that will determine our results over the long term. We recently had the honor of having Lin Irwin present about overcoming adversity or, as she puts it, “embracing adversity,” on a Smiles at Sea dental cruise

You can listen to Lin’s talk about embracing adversity right here on Dental Hub 360 and come away with many lessons. Here’s one reflection from her talk, three steps to overcoming adversity.

1. Change your perspective.

Adversity comes from a combination of things we control and things we don’t. 

Yet, in the present, many people tend to focus mostly on the things they couldn’t control that got them there. They get frustrated that they did “everything they could” but because of some other force—people, the government, or even a pandemic—derailed them. It can be easy to just give up if you feel this way, thinking there’s no reason to work so hard when you can’t control 100% of your results.

Others focus mostly on the things they could control that got them where they are. They kick themselves for not anticipating the adversity and having a plan in place to overcome it. They get really hard on themselves. Again, if you feel this way, it can be easy to give up, thinking you don’t have what it takes to succeed because you didn’t see the adversity coming or didn’t have a plan for it.

But what if you changed your perspective completely? What if you only looked at what got you where you are as objectively as possible? What if you looked to the past with the sole purpose of learning and not to take or assign blame? You will likely be much better off in the future if you do.

2. Embrace the adversity.

In her talk, Lin shares the story of Hellen Keller. Helen Keller was born without the gift of eyesight. Yet she managed to graduate with honors from college and learned sorry how to speak so clearly that she was able to give speeches across the world and in and impress millions of people and impact their lives. The thing Lin took from Helen Keller's story was that you don't have to have the gift of eyesight to have vision and insight. 

In some ways, embracing adversity is another way of asking people to accept their circumstances but not let their present circumstances defined their future. Hellen Keller would not have inspired millions of people had she not embraced her circumstances nad moved forward anyway.

Our present circumstances are what they are. So, we have two choices. We can let our circumstances control our future. If we do, our circumstances become the ceiling of our future success and hold us down. Or, we can embrace our circumstances and focus on making the best of our circumstances. If we do, our circumstances become the floor for our future success, where the sky’s the limit.

3. Focus on the horizon.

As Lin explains, vision is our ability to see past being blindsided by the hardships of life. In this sense, we can think of adversity as something that knocks us off the path we choose to success. Our goal doesn’t change but our present location does. In this case, we must dust ourselves off, look out to the horizon where our goal is, and then start moving toward that goal using a different path.

If we want to become a dental practice leader, we might lose our job. Does that mean we can no longer be a practice leader? Of course not. It just means we must reassess where we are and move forward from wherever we are. But the goal doesn’t change, only the path to get there does. In this case, our next step is no longer to earn a promotion at our practice because we no longer have that job. But we might apply at other practices—for the same position or even a leadership position. Who knows? Your next position might be the position you were pining for the whole time.

How do you handle adversity?

When we change our perspective, embrace the adversity, and focus on the horizon ahead of ourselves, we can be much better off in the future when adversity strikes. We might even be able to hit our original goal faster than we would have without the adversity.

And if you want help navigating adversity, join thousands of dental colleagues in the Dental Hub 360 Facebook group.