How Leaders Are Empowered by Adversity

Every day we have challenges, some are bigger, some are smaller, and some get to the point where they almost break us, where we feel we can’t take anymore. And yet, that’s where we can experience a fork in the road – one is to crumble and do nothing and the other is to plow through.  If you choose to crumble, does that mean this road is a dead-end or can it converge back into the other path?

One of the things I think about is how being a leader means I have to stay positive during times of my own personal adversity.  Like millions of people, my mother has dementia.  And like many family members, I now fear I’ll also succumb to Alzheimer’s.  How I chose to address this is my fork in the road.  It’s been one of the best opportunities in my life; I now try to live every day like it’s my last day.  I try to make every day the best day I can.

In our business, all we focus on is regulatory affairs within life sciences.  We follow clinical trials, successes and failures.  None ever hurt as much as a recent Alzheimer’s failure – it hurt for the candidates we placed there as well as the patients and caregivers.  It hurt on several deep personal levels.  I’ve been told the role as caregiver will only become more difficult with time and the hope I was holding onto for myself slipped through my fingers.

How we handle that disappointment, whether we let that permeate our environment or rise above it, is crucial.  As we enter our 15th year of business, there is only one option – be the leader my team needs me to be.  It’s a daunting, challenging role but it’s empowering when you have a team that believes in your Mission, Value and Culture.  It becomes a perpetual circle of give and take, a vibrant fluidity that needs nurturing and caring, like any other relationship.

When faced with your next challenge, ask yourself why this is happening and how can you grow from it.  Adversity happens for a reason – it’s life nudging you to grow, to challenge yourself and others.  I’m not sure when I began viewing as a means of empowerment, but I am so grateful I do.  Perhaps it was the following quote that has guided me.

You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand but take the pain and learn to accept it. Not as a curse or punishment but as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose. – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross