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  • Adil Malia

Don't be STARTLED.....manage Adversities Positively and emerge a WINNER !


When times are a VUCA, Champions are the ones who develop mastery over managing Adversities. More-so because 'adversities' are the only thing going a plenty and a natural partner in uncertain and unpredictable times.....!!!

People invariably mistake sudden events to be 'Adversities'. And whilst there are many similarities... there could be acute differentiation between a sudden event and an Adverse situation.

Adversity defined: Adversity is the happening or not happening of an expected event or outcome of a series of events, unpredictable by nature hence unexpected and thus unplanned, which puts the otherwise planned programs and actions into a state of disarray thereby making the desired 'journey to goal' appear to be impaired and thus improbable.

The four critical elements that need to be discussed...

- happening or otherwise not happening of an expected event. It could also be inverse outcomes from the normal pattern that could trigger an adversity. If all swans until a point of time were known to be white and you based your assumptions on that outcome, the sudden siting of a 'Black-Swan' in the equation (albeit an unknown reality until that time) could trigger an adversity for you !

- unpredictable nature which makes it very difficult to plan for the unexpected outcome of such events or even to insulate.

- the otherwise planned program of actions as a result of the unpredictable event becomes impaired and ineffective.

- 'journey to goal' as a result of the above appears improbable and jeopardized.

To be startled is the first blush reaction to adversity....alarmed-stunned-surprised-astound-consternated. Triggering of debilitating emotions causing anxiety, fear followed by self-pity, hopelessness, frustration and despair are some natural patterns of reactions when faced with adversities.

To be shocked at the sudden adverse turn of events is natural for 'pattern-slave' human reactive behavior. There are five post adversity reactions that determine whether post the event success follows or disaster....

1. Mummified : here the impacted keeps observing, indulging in small analysis, tries to get more information and freezes in the time-frame but doesnot change, strategise or indulge in any positive change directed actions

2. 'Victim': Here the impacted becomes very bitter indulges in blame-storms, feels hopeless, withdraws, feels jealous and enters a zone of what is professionally referred to as 'learned helplessness'.

3. Navigator: The impacted here capitalises on the situation and becomes a positive solution entrepreneur. In a way, he capitalizes adverse opportunities. He is the one who adjusts the sail, when winds change. The types who would, when the wind blows hard prefers to build wind- mills rather than shutting the windows. Navigators practice realistic optimism.

4. Profiteer: He is a navigator without values and that is what differentiates him from the navigator. A profiteer is an opportunist. He makes a Trade out ofeven Adversities. We are currently hearing of how touts are making profitable trade out of discounting currency in the current demonetization adversity in the Indian markets !

5. Professorial: He theorises and explains and debates and theories. Some others who listen to him will act. But himself...well, he continues theorising. No doubt professors do not often end-up earning as much as their students do.

Whenever startled by Adversity....you need to SNAP yourself out of it. Shakespeare, the master of Adversities (he called them tragedies) says..

"Sweet are the uses of Adversity which like the toad ugly and venomous yet wears a precious jewel in his head. And this our life, exempt from public haunt finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones And good in everything !"

Whilst in normal times your mentee's may skip a few occasional coaching appointments....but come adversity, they generally seek more contact time, without fail !!!! But that is one aside. Adversity scares more than impacts. That'sa mantra I have coached my mentee's to believe.

Based on my C-Suite Coaching experiences with several corporates, bespoking and architecting your 'SNAP-OUT' strategy is very critical. However, if one were to recommend generic steps, my 'bounce-back' recommendations would be as under :

1.Build -up your psychology : Build yourself up to believe that like pain anddeath being part of life, adversities also are going to be an ongoing part of one'sexistence and that no one is exempt from it. More so in uncertain and ambiguous VUCA times. Philosophically embrace the Zen Buddhist 'Wabi -sabi' world view. It teaches you to admire the beauty of all things in their imperfection,incompletion and impermanence. Everything and forever cannot be in their desired state of permanence and perfection. Adversities are oxymoronic by their nature - 'predictably unpredictable'. Thus learn to accept it when it hits you and build-up your stamina for 'psychological resilience'. Turn your wounds into wisdom.

2. Change your self - talk : modify the mind script of the adverse event with which you talk to yourself. Particularly if you have adopted a 'doom & gloom' script, you need to - 'highlight-drag-delete' that immediately. You are not living in Pity-City so move over to Bloomville ! Thus you will be able to refocus your thinking by changing the script. Avoid thinking traps and shift to 'Response Oriented Thinking'. This will enhance your capacity for Resilience.

3. Audit the Situation : Appreciative Inquiry is critical. Understand where your plans have been hit. Forget too much of analysis and avoid spending too much time getting into the origins. Rather get into action mode. Challenge your patterned thinking and be innovative about possible solutions.

4. Reframe-Restructure-Revitalize-Renew : Your purpose, your direction, your value-chain , your strategy and your programs all will need restatement in the post Adversity new reality of life. This is where your approach of being either Mummified, a Victim, a Navigator, a Profiteer or Professorial comes into play. Reframing is about defining the destination in the post trauma reality. Take charge of change agenda and engage the critical others. Snap out of passiveness. Restructuring is about ideating and creating a new structure to execute the new strategy. Revitalizing is about breathing new energy in the structure through Communications and Engagement. Renewal is about people, talent, capability, skilling and everything to do about the value creating people capital of the enterprise.

5. Inoculate against Stress : Positive journeys can give results provided you have high mental tenacity to bear the stress that naturally gets generated during adverse times. Fear is somehow more believable and society too somehow multiplies the Victim thinking. Abraham Lincoln rightly said that ...your resolution to success is more important than any other one thing. It is theAnxiety of not having view of a way forward that is worrisome more than the actual success of the way-forward strategy -weak or strong. Thus inoculationsthrough psychological confidence may help. Search for Role Models and get inspired. Speak and connect-up with the larger segment that has got connected to shrugg-off the sense of isolation and feeling of being a sole victim of the adverse impact. Indulge in activities you love doing...nature, sports, music, writing whatever.

Calibrate your success and of course Celebrate your success. Adversities are windows of opportunities to exhibit leadership . A window that sheives the boys from the men. Remember the M-A-L-I-A principle.!!! 'Most Admired Leaders Inspire Action ' . It is in such moments of Adversity that the leader has toinspire his team and influence positive action. Your successful re-emergence will make you an aspirational role model. Such are tales that folklore and legends are made-up of.

Be a navigator to the lighthouse !

#PeopleManagement #CorporateEngagement

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