Adversity as an Amplifier for YOUR Career Growth Mindset
My Thoughts as Takeaways from the Attitude Makeover podcast
Looks like we’ve got a new segment! Welcome to ‘My Thoughts as Takeaways’ - Here I’m going to be delving deeper into my personal thoughts that stem from the week’s podcast episode (which you surely should catch up on!) and present them as takeaways for YOU to get closer to the big picture, the idea of our career growth as we see it.
THOUGHTS OF A TENACIOUS PROFESSIONAL: My conversation with Lalitha Indrakanti, the Head of Global Business Operations at Ingka Group, IKEA got me thinking about the core concept of ADVERSITY - personal adversity and its impact on the character and professional career. And that’s basically the gist of what my thoughts as takeaways are going to be about.
I’ve gone through my share of adversity at various stages of life. So have you and everyone else you and I know of. Adversity refers to negative experiences that have the possibility to disturb a person’s adaptive function or development (Yates & Masten, 2004). What makes it different for each one of us then? The magnitude of it, and the way it affects us in various capacities and how we perceive it.
When I heard Lalitha share her experience with adversity, it made me ponder the idea that adversity is part of life and certainly does contribute to human development. Her story is completely different from mine (and yours will be too). But there’s more to it and there are common factors to it than what meets the eye…
THE REAL DEAL
I’m sure we all know and see people with a ‘victim mindset’ when it comes to personal struggles and adversity. A mindset wherein the feelings of helplessness, negativity and failure are overpowering. In all fairness, it is natural and almost necessary to deal with these feelings initially. But it cannot be the be-all and end-all, can it?
What I noticed and realised from my conversation with Lalitha (and the other guests on my podcast so far) is that: it’s about embracing the mindset on the flipside. A mindset that pushes one to come out as a stronger individual with character, grit and determination. I want to believe the same for myself because hey, we all need to believe in it to make way for true transformational growth, especially when it comes to work and career.
“Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” This was the general vibe of Lalitha’s personality and opinions. Self-awareness was reigning supreme with resilience, of course. It’s more of a conscious knowledge that facing misfortune creates opportunities to reflect on how to navigate the current situation and make things better thereon. More importantly, it’s a mental model from a larger perspective to make the right choices - as an individual and then for family, colleagues and career in the long-term.
As soothing and reassuring as Lalitha sounds in this episode, patience and thoughtfulness was the underlying essence of the words she chose. This became another thought from the conversation in my personal introspection - Patience in the face of adversity. Adversity, be it in life or at work, is not quick and in a hurry. It’s a prolonged stretch of time that can almost seem endless. And we know patience to be a virtue that can always keep us in good stead wherever we are. To gain self-control over our emotions and responses as we wait for the adversity to pass. To navigate any situation at the workplace with the right sensibilities.
From my personal experience, I’ve always noticed that the reaction of people around us during our difficult moments plays a monumental role in how we perceive things. Be it physical hurt or emotional loss, the general ‘advice’ is to ignore or steer clear of what’s happening. Firstly, this is intended to bring focus on the importance of good relationships.
Next, comes the question: If we stick to this thought process then how to allow growth? Lalitha helped me get the final thought bang on. Face it head-on and overcome it completely - arm yourself to solve or get through it with all the resources you need. From a career perspective, it means problem-solving. This means doing the work of identifying the problem(s), consulting the resources, analysing possible solutions, implementing relevant options, and stabilising for future (work) situations. (Here’s where Lalitha talks about upskilling!)
TO TOP IT ALL
What we’ve taken a rundown of so far is - Adversity CAN pave the way for self-awareness, patience, resilience, knowledge, and strong relationships. CAN is the keyword because each one of us has the potential to make our adversity a key, rather than a lock that has us caged from growth.
What is the final thought that makes adversity an amplifier as the title suggests? Empathy. The kind that helps one extend themselves beyond the limits they normally set. There is something about adversity that causes individuals who’ve evolved through it to be more in tune with how they feel, what they want, and what might be the driving force behind their actions or responses to a given situation. I’d call it a character trait of sorts. A type of emotional-social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide thinking and meaningful actions for one's own good and those of others as a companion, co-worker or a leader.
THE ORGANISATIONAL POV
Big organisations or small start-ups or anything in between, being adversity-proof would be a situation in an ideal world. When the winds of change, uncertainty and crisis blow in, established ways of getting things done can break down. During my time with a leading organisation, we’ve had to face adverse scenarios wherein the constraints forced us to work with almost less than half of the usual resources required. This not only brought our personal characters to the forefront but also pushed the team to accept and think out of the box. It involved speeding up processes with improvisation - spontaneous, creative efforts to address an opportunity or a problem.
While individuals learn from personal adversity, organisations can prepare for it up to a certain extent. By questioning the assumptions behind routines and evaluating how to operate if the assumptions didn't hold. For example, which type of decisions do organisations assume will have to be made by high-level managers, and how would that change in a crisis? It’s about practising to do more with less, cross-training to deepen knowledge of how other areas function and learning to give up control by recognizing when it's time to delegate decision-making.
Some non-negotiables that hold firm ground: Promoting the right culture—with your team aligned on a common objective and maintaining a high level of mutual trust and patience for unwavering resilience on a team level. Empathy and empathy, again.
A TAKEAWAY FOR YOUR THOUGHT
There could be adversity at every corner, it’s part of the game we call life. Considering it as a roadblock/barrier is out of the question. We all know better than that. But the catch might just be in aligning all the larger learnings and skills to YOUR big picture. And this definitely stems from a place of acceptance, willpower and constant support - the kind we all need more of. So, here’s to adversity as an amplifier for a (career) growth mindset and for a career trajectory of eventual triumph.
Where do you place adversity and its impact on your big picture mindset spectrum?