Adversity is a state of hardship, difficulty, or misfortune that can happen in many areas, such as physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and financial hardship.
Everyone faces difficult periods at points in their lives. Sometimes, however, adversity can come in waves, with one misfortune or hardship closely following another. For example, losing a job, and shortly after, being diagnosed with a chronic illness.
The way we process our adversities can have a significant impact on how we look at the world. It is like having an empty canvas in front of you and deciding what to paint. Perceiving difficult moments as unsurmountable can lead to feelings of hopelessness or even depression. On the other hand, leaning toward courage and hope can lead to a greater sense of meaning and purpose during difficult times.
Shirzad Chamine, the founder of Positive Intelligence, or PQ, states that every outcome or circumstance contains a gift and opportunity and brings usthree gifts: Knowledge, Power, and Inspiration. I am going to unpack them for you.
GIFT # 1 – KNOWLEDGE
You receive the gift of knowing when you learn a lesson that can help you in a future situation. In our society, we are familiar with the expression lessons-learned.
One of my jobs is to help professionals in transition to find employment after a layoff. When in a career transition, deciding to find the gifts open many opportunities for learning and growing. Sometimes it is difficult to make progress when experiencing sorrow, sadness, and frustrations after the loss. Accepting the ending leads to finding a way out.
I know someone who started this process with dismay after losing a great job, in a dream organization. She found strength and put on the work, researching the market for a new niche. She actively networked and honed her interviewing skills. Few weeks after creating consistent job search routines, she built momentum and got many interviews. One of them led to a great job offer in another industry, a new field with promising growth. She received the gift of knowledge of what it means to lose a great job to get a better one and find herself on the way.
GIFT # 2 – POWER
Getting the gift or Power from adversity requires connecting with our true self, our essence, that inner place where we find strength. From this place, we can experience curiosity, creativity, and motivation, even in the face of difficult situations. As Shirzad says, with a clear-headed focus we can face any storm.
A few days ago, my brother was rushed into a hospital in Caracas with a severe case of Covid. It was a critical situation requiring a clear-headed focus to face the medical emergency and save his life. After securing a bed in an Intensive Care Unit, we gathered as a family to get organized into small teams to tackle different challenges according to our skills. We divided and conquered to communicate with the doctors, locate funds to pay the medical bills, purchase medicines, and looking after our parents. Now that my brother is recovering, I see the fruits of this clear-headed and focused action. In the middle of a storm, we came together as a family in the best possible way given the circumstances.
GIFT # 3 – INSPIRATION
Inspiration is about being awake to new possibilities transcending ordinary experiences and limitations. To get the gift of inspiration from adversity, we must keep a high view, knowing that there is a purpose for everything under heaven. This inspired action doesn’t have to be related to a terrible event necessarily. Because my grandmothers did not attend school, I became inspired to pursue formal education to become a career woman. Now I support Wellness for Growth, a non-profit organization that educates Hispanic women to become positive agents in their families and communities.
The inspired action mobilizes positive energy that allows redirecting the pain into creating a new endeavor. Christopher Reeves started a foundation to study spinal injury after suffering from a terrible accident that left him paralyzed for life. Before passing, he felt grateful for the opportunity to create such a contribution that made his life more meaningful and purposeful.
In the end, I do believe that we can find gifts and opportunities from any outcome or circumstance, even the most difficult ones. Be willing to connect with the part of you that can see the big picture of your life. From that high view, seek these three gifts: Knowledge, Power, and Inspiration and create a beautiful piece of art on the canvas of your life.