Adversity vs Opportunity

6 min. read

It all depends on how you approach adversity, and your attitude can turn challenges into opportunities.

“How do you nurture a positive attitude when all the statistics say you're a dead man? You go to work.”

  • Patrick Swayze

You may have heard that the Chinese word for crisis uses two brush strokes – one is danger and the other is opportunity. How you view and deal with a crisis depends on your attitude.

Attitude is a choice. An attitude can translate into how you have chosen to practice and embody your thoughts, feelings. and choices. It becomes part of how you act as you progress in your career.

Your attitude either helps, speeds up, and assists you in your career or it can hinder, slow down, and hurt your progress. Attitudes are born from the way you think, feel, or act. They’re reflected in how you choose to behave as you carry out your tasks.

In other words — attitudes determine actions.

Lou Holtz, a famous football coach, once said, “Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.”

The one constant throughout your career is your attitude and how you act throughout the course of your career. No matter what your personal purposes or goals are for your life, your attitude is the one thing that is always there.

Sure, that attitude may shift here and there, if you’re having a good day or a bad day — but for the most part, for most people, it vacillates within a certain range and relies on outside influences rather than inner choice. If you were to take a survey, you’d likely find that most people think emotion and attitude are things that happen to them, rather than something they themselves can create and adjust.

Your attitude affects others. They see it and they feel it. They’re either inspired by your attitudes or discouraged by them.

Attitude may well be the single most important factor in your career.

Attitude can act as the gatekeeper to your talent. Which is to say, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, what matters is how open you are to winning. The world is full of failures who could have been successes, but their talent was closed off by poor attitudes.

Quite possibly the most important attitude of all is a “positive attitude.” What exactly is a positive attitude?

Simply put, it’s a decision to make the best of things.

With a positive attitude as your foundation, you can accomplish anything in your career. No matter what adversity is set in your path, no matter what boundaries or barriers you run into, no matter what limits you are presented with — the decision to make the best of things, to make things go right, to get things done anyway, to make the best of any situation — that’s where the pot of gold lies.

It's not about “being happy” or “being nice” or even “being friendly.” Attitude is about how you act and how it impacts our success in our career. It’s a determination to never give up. A positive attitude is shaking off failure or confusion because you are focused on succeeding. A positive attitude is believing something can be done, even when you don’t yet know how.

Win: To succeed or achieve a result (something done) through effort.

As professionals, we win because we get things done.

We get things done because we care. We decide to be the best, do the impossible and do it right. We create the future through our actions today.

How to win

Decide you can. The moment you decide you cannot do something, it’s game over.

To win you must get things done. Tasks that are started and not completed sap your energy and attention. It’s vital to get things done. It takes working hard as well as smart. Use daily plans, meetings, completing tasks, weekly reports – all excellent tools to help you win.

Focus on getting things done and we all win. Take ab\ note from the professionals that are succeeding and find out what they do at work to get things done.


“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

  • Benjamin Franklin

Winning requires preparation.

There is a level of preparation that goes far beyond what most people take the time to do. When you are about to get on a call and have what could be a very stressful talk, instead of spending a few moments thinking about what’s going to happen and how you might react, do a more thorough preparation.

Practice and “role play.” Sit down in front of another person and ask them to pretend to be the person you are going to talk to and rehearse the conversation.

It may seem silly, it may seem uncomfortable, it may seem fake and contrived. But, if you do this, you will be much better prepared, calmer, and more collected when you finally have to confront the situation.

Sales calls or meetings can be very stressful. Sit down with someone else and say, “You pretend to be the client and let’s role play the call.”

This is something that teams can do together. Let's say you have a team getting ready to pitch a big new client. There is a lot of time and money involved and a lot of pressure to make it happen.

So, bring the team together and just do a series of practice rounds. Go over questions you are likely to be asked and go around and do the full presentation multiple times on separate days to really get comfortable and confident.

By the time you get to the actual meeting, it should be smooth sailing. At this point you will have done the presentation three or more times. Doing this really does create a lot of certainty and calm.


On this journey you are bound to encounter difficulties. How you deal with those challenges is everything. Do you give up in the face of adversity? Do you succumb to your negative thoughts and emotions — attitudes? Or do you rise up?

It really doesn’t matter what the nature of a difficult situation or condition is, what misfortune or tragedy you face in life or in your career. What does matter is how you approach it, how you overcome it. What matters is your attitude.

When faced with a difficult situation look for what can be done. Danger or opportunity? The choice is yours.