Hardship is painful no doubt. Experts at the Center for Creative Leadership say that if you can learn from your hardship, and turn it into an opportunity for growth, you gain something back that stays with you forever.
Here are their top 6 tips to help you glean silver linings from difficult times:
1. Don’t let hardship be everything.
Rest, exercise, and make time for wellness where you can. Spend time — even if it’s remotely — reconnecting with people who make you laugh, and do things that get your mind off your troubles. Recovery time, even if in small amounts, is essential for learning.
2. Don’t be ashamed of failures, mistakes, or struggles.
To learn, you need to reflect on the experience. Plus, reluctance to talk to others or get support can make your hardship that much more difficult to overcome. Instead of beating yourself up over it, figure out what you can do differently in the future, and keep moving forward.
3. Avoid defensiveness.
Resist the temptation to put the blame on the situation or others’ shortcomings. Try not to react defensively when other people give you feedback or point out things you are (or aren’t) doing. Denying problems or shifting blame away from yourself will not serve you in the long run.
4. Keep asking questions.
Reflect: How might this hardship be a new challenge? What might I learn as a result? How might lessons from past experiences apply? How am I feeling? What’s my intuition telling me? What are my actions telling me about what’s working and what’s not working? What can I learn from what I and others did in this situation? What feedback do I need to seek from others? How might this help me going forward?
5. Connect with others.
If you’re experiencing discrimination, bias, or injustice, reach out to people who can relate or support you. Internalizing the experience won’t help you or anyone else, and it will only allow the situation to fester. Identify people you trust and figure out how you’d like to proceed.
6. Look back to find your lessons of experience.
Hardships aren’t the main way people learn — experience is the primary teacher. Our Lessons of Experience research tells us that almost a quarter of all leadership development stems from hardships. That’s more than classroom experiences or formal training opportunities, meaning that what you’re going through right now could be a powerful catalyst on your leadership journey.
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