Overcoming Adversity – John Frost

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Overcoming Adversity
Rotary Reflections by John A. Frost

In light of current events, my thoughts have turned to choices when confronted with adversity.
Eyes adjust quickly to darkness making it awkward, even painful, to look at light. Sometimes it is easier to see the darkness around us rather than focus on the light. But it is the light that leads to growth and life. In time of adversity, great people rise to the top. Why? Perhaps we can discover certain characteristics that are the outcome of how they choose to look at the world. The operative word is “choose” because all of us have the opportunity to choose how we will react to the world around us and we can change the choices we have made in the past.

Great individuals are always in control. They have a sense that amidst all the uncertainty, ultimately they are in control of their own lives and future. They continuously ask the question of themselves and others, “What can I control in this situation?” and then act on that answer. They let go of the guilt of what they cannot control.

Great individuals have the ability to live in a paradox. They can acknowledge the darkness of the reality of a situation and still believe that it will get better. They face the world as it is, acknowledging that these are difficult times and creating balance with emotions and feelings. They learn to look at all the aspects of a situation and know where the biases are. They are true realists.

Great individuals are optimistic. They see the possibility of what can be. They establish long-term plans. Where are they going when they get out of this particular temporary crisis situation? (My management group practices PMA: Positive Mental Attitude.)
Great Individuals are resolute. They continue doggedly forward, within the crisis and afterward. They create rituals in the present moment to conquer paralysis and create a sense of “doing something”. For some it is prayer; for others it is writing it out; still others climb mountains for the challenge. (I like to play a symphony loudly.)

Great individuals are passionate. They live out their values and beliefs in each move and decision they make and are not afraid to reveal the depth of their feeling about their values. They constantly evaluate their personal convictions and values in light of the events whether in writing or in meditation.

Great individuals are steady. They do not waver even when elements of the situation change. They seem to have a deeper center that is not rocked in the waves of trauma. They commit to or renew a sense of belief in something greater than the self. For some this may be a Divine Being, for other it might be the concept of justice or grace. For Rotarians, it is living by the precepts of the Rotary Four Way Test.

Great individuals have an abiding faith in human nature. They believe in the ability of people to bring out their best and put it on the line for others. They acknowledge the heroic action that others have taken and realize they are no different.
Great individuals survive and prosper from adversity relying upon choices which will strengthen and enhance the characteristics of strong, successful individuals.


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