Bill Cottringer

“All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
~Walt Disney.

Life is often riddled with problems, obstacles and challenges which make it seem like one big test. The test is how you approach these adversities to develop the character you need to overcome them and end up at the finish line. This is your true legacy that nobody can deny you but yourself.

Sooner or later we learn the best way to build the best character to move from thinking we are being successful to learning from our failures so that we can change our surviving mode to one of thriving. Fortunately enough great models have come before us to be motivational inspirations to adopt this simple way to build the kind of character that stops surviving and starts thriving. But first consider these common adversities:

• You are a bit on the weaker side, get bullied by a bigger, older kid and want to skip school to avoid the humiliation.
• You are a teenager who gets jilted in love for the first time and are convinced it is the end of your life.
• You have lead your HS football team to a perfect season, but loose the championship game along with your college scholarship.
• You get a good education, work hard for your employer and get passed over for the promotion you deserve for your efforts.
• Super Sandy Storm comes a long and takes away the beach home you saved all your life for because it was the best source of stress release during the years’ of saving.
• You are 70 years old stuck in a job that is getting too difficult mentally and physically but you can’t retire because you have squandered your retirements chasing after your career pot of gold.
• Your mate of more than 50 years has died of cancer and now you face the dismal prospect of going into the winter of your life all alone.

Accept Adversity

Adversity is an inevitable part of life you can’t avoid. It is a sure thing except for how bad it will be for you (usually worse than expected or desired). The above scenarios happen a lot and your approach—accept and adjust or reject and run—usually determines how much more adversity is coming your way and how strong or weak your character will become. Of course, the more character you build along the way, the easier it becomes to accept and adjust to overcome the next adversity. The key is to not take these adversities too personally or believe they are permanent and pervasive, like Martin Selig’s advice on the value of an optimistic viewpoint in happiness and success. You know it is coming, so why not get ready and meet it head-on?

Bounce Back

Failure is another inevitable part of life you can’t avoid even though our society preaches and teaches you can and should. An important reality to understand though, is that failure is not fatal, but rather an opportunity to try again, armed with better information to succeed. Great success usually follows a series of failures that are embraced and understood better for their lessons. This is the foundation of a good and strong character. And if all else fails try Brian Tracy’s sage advice: “Focus on the future, think about the solution, look for the good, and seek the valuable lesson. Strong resilience, when you need it most, can only come from bouncing back higher than where you were when you fell down. Besides, getting up feels a whole lot better than staying down and giving up.

Get Going

Temporary paralysis is a third inevitable aspect of life, especially when the particular adversity isn’t at all acceptable and a bounce-back attitude of resilience elude you. This is when you think staying down and giving up is better than the alternatives before you. But the inescapable problem is that nothing gets done to change anything without action, whether you feel like it or not. And, the longer you linger in limbo with mental and physical paralysis, the harder the superglue sets with your feet stuck to the ground making you immobile. Good get-going goals usually involve more focus on what you can change in your approach that what specific results you can achieve.

Accept adversity, bounce back and get going in admitting and embracing failure so that you can stop just surviving and start thriving.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
~Napoleon Hill

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or