Newsletter by Barbara Mintzer

Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
The Power of a Vision... a Leader's Journey

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February 2006
The Patience to Deal with Adversity

Last month's Newsletter discussed the inner core strength of being able to understand the journey through change. This month we will discuss another inner core strength; the patience to deal with adversity, and  I can't wait to hear what I have to say. That is because we teach best what we need most to learn. I have had a rotten cold since before Christmas, and am actually still fighting it. However, last week, I attempted to sit at this computer and write a Newsletter, and absolutely NOTHING came out. Instead of admitting that I wasn't up to doing the Newsletter, I tried harder, pushed harder, mentally beat myself up for being such a wimp, and still NOTHING came out. That's when I finally decided to acknowledge the adverse circumstances I was in, and to give it a rest.

Why does it take me so long to get it? Why do I think I am not entitled to "give in" for awhile? Why do I push myself so hard? And, most importantly, who is judging me anyway? Old tapes being played over and over. I was brought up to be RESPONSIBLE and that label has stayed with me all my life. Truth be known, when we are dealing with adverse situations, that is exactly the time to be easier on ourselves. The following are four strategies we can implement to help us go through adversity in our lives, both personally and professionally:

1.  Acknowledge the situation you are in;
2.  See the gift in this situation;
3.  Plan your way out of this situation;
4.  Share your story with those who need to hear it.

1. It is difficult to acknowledge an adverse situation without feeling fear and/or panic. When we are faced with sudden loss, be it the loss of a loved one, loss of a job or a career, a health challenge, etc., what are we supposed to do? The first thing is to acknowledge that we are in this situation. Calmly acknowledging that we are in this situation without catastrophizing it, puts us in control and helps us to rationally think of what to do next. 

A technique I learned years ago was simply to become still. When we need the courage to make difficult decisions and face difficult situations, there is no means of defense to ease the pressure and steady the spirit like just becoming still. In times when fear swells to the proportion of terror, there is no help like simply becoming still. Becoming still simply means not allowing fear to control us. When we are unafraid, we can see, hear, feel and think clearly. When our minds and hearts are at peace, all our creative and inventive powers are at their best and we are most receptive to the solutions to our situations. Whenever "all else fails" with me, I become still and calm and then I can think more clearly. I am working on doing that first, before I try everything else that fails. You might want to give this strategy a try.

"I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way.
But she left me none the wiser,
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she.
But, oh, the things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me."

               Robert Browning Hamilton
              "Along The Road"

2.  When you are going through a difficult time, it is hard to see the gift in the situation, but there usually is one. Adversity introduces us to ourselves, and once you go through a difficult situation, you are that much stronger for whatever else life will put in your path. Each time we overcome adversity, we are that much more prepared and armed if and when we need to stand up to it again. Look back in your life at all the times you had to surmount difficult situations. Your ability to do that has brought you to where you are now. The good times, the easy times, are wonderful and, quite frankly, I wish my life was filled with more of them. But I can honestly say I could not be where I am today if it were not for the difficult times that I went through. Those times gave me the courage, the will and the determination to move on to something better. When one door closed I had to believe another would open. It did because I went out looking for the door, found it, and opened it. So can you.

On my computer, taped with a post-it note, is the following:  "Every exit is an entrance somewhere else."   Today's tough situation holds the seeds to tomorrow's opportunities. The key is to have the patience to deal with adversity. When most of us are in a situation we do not like, we want out, NOW! Sometimes that is just not possible, and we have to handle our situation with grace and calm until the time is right to make our move.

3. Have a plan to get out of your situation and move on with your life. Again, this may take time. If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, know that it may take at least a year before you make any concrete decisions about what to do with your life. In that year you can plan on keeping things on hold while you take the time to mourn, grieve and gain the strength to move on. The same may be true with an illness. Hopefully, that will not take a year, but whatever time it takes, have a plan to be in place when you are able to move on. Professionally, if you have lost your job, or you would like to initiate leaving your present position, HAVE A PLAN. Know what your next step will be so you won't be floundering when a door closes, either by your own making or due to circumstances beyond your control.

Write your plan down, with the steps you will take, and it will help you make each next step more concrete. Once you start making your blueprint a reality, put a big red check mark after each step that was successfully taken. Good for you! Each small step, each small success, breeds another. Great opportunities present themselves as a result of many very small, well-thought-out steps. Keep moving forward and doors will open for you. People will enter your life who will guide you to the next step. Events will occur that will give you a push in the right direction. Terrific things happen when you are committed to taking that next step on your journey.

4. Share your story with those who need to hear it. After you have successfully navigated your way through an adverse situation into a new opportunity, don't keep that story to yourself. Share it with people who need to hear of your success to give them the courage to make life better for themselves. As most of you know, when I customize my programs for your associations, I always ask for your thoughts on certain strategies I will present in my program. Your input always leads to your stories, and it is the richness of your stories that makes the most impact to your colleagues sitting in the audience. They want to know how you do it, they want to be lifted up by their own. I can give the global perspective, but I can't take the place of the day-to-day life experience your stories bring to my programs.

One of the best ways you can share your story is to become a mentor. Take the hand of someone new in your department and share your story with him/her. Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently? What are you most proud of? What would you still like to accomplish? What was a turning point in your life, and what was the lesson you learned from it? It will be a win-win situation for you and the person you mentor. When you become a mentor you become a role model. Your willingness to be a role model for another person is a great gift you give to them. It gives them someone to look up to and to emulate, and it keeps you on your toes!

We have had a lot to think about in this Newsletter. If you wish to pass this Newsletter along to a colleague who may find it of value, feel free to do so. If that person would like to receive the Newsletter, e-mail me with the address, and I will put it on my database. If you know of an organization, association or corporation that would benefit from my message, please let me know.  If you are looking for a speaker or trainer for your next meeting, please think of me. Book a program in February (perhaps for Nurses Week in May) and get a 25% discount. My updated Website has all of my past Newsletters archived by subject and date.

About the Author

Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and health care. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables and can be a master of ceremonies for your event... a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.

Phone: (805) 964-7546
FAX: (805) 964-9636

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