turning tough times into triumph

Dictionary.com defines resilience as: “the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched.” In other words resiliency is the ability of a company, church, or person to bounce back after facing major adversity or suffering a life altering challenge.

Drop a Christmas ornament and it shatters. Drop an orange and it bruises. Drop a hard rubber ball and it bounces right back. These objects all react differently because they have differing compositions. They’re made of different stuff. Similarly companies, churches, and people have different compositions. When faced with serious adversity some organizations fall apart. Some put their head down, do what they’ve always done, and survive but emerge wounded and bruised. Some, however have the capacity to bounce right back.

In the book Bounce author Keith McFarland (who also wrote The Breakthrough Company) asserts that there are six steps to rebounding from tough times.

Step #1: Embrace the Bounce

It’s not a question of if you, your company, or church will need to change, but when it will need to change. The single most important factor that will determine your resilience is not resistance to stress but adaptability in the face of stress. If you don’t change when change happens you’ll be left in the dust.

Step #2: Manage the Anxiety

The right amount of anxiety can focus our attention and motivate change. The wrong amount on the other hand can thwart your effectiveness entirely. Great leaders know how to convert “Anxiety 1” (people’s fear of what might happen to them as a result of change) to “Anxiety 2” (people’s fear of what might happen to them if they do not adapt to that change).

Step #3: Manage the Mental Factors

Good leaders know how to manage their own mental process in times of stress and how to help their team do the same. They have the ability to 1) See things as they really are 2) Treat the causes, not the symptoms 3) They emphasize a “we control” versus a “they control” mentality 4) Help the team stay together by “holding hands in traffic.”

Step #4: Manage the Money

When it comes to managing money in a difficult time we need to remember that money can serve three different roles: #1 It can serve as a signal for change #2 It can serve as a shock absorber to drastic change #3 It can serve as a strategic compass heading forward towards new endeavors and priorities.

Step #5: Manage the Mission

Downturns provide the unique opportunity to refocus, rediscover, or find for the very first time the mission of the organization. The mission is that one thing that must be accomplished, regardless of the obstacles that are standing in the way. This moment gives the organization the opportunity to restructure itself based driven uniquely by the mission.

Step #6: Manage the Morale

Give your people something worth fighting for and morale will be high, guaranteed. People want strong, decisive leaders, but also leaders who will listen. People want to be around others who see things as they are but also keep one eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. People want to be surrounded by pragmatic people who are also people of character.


What is the best step you’ve taken or piece of advice you’ve followed to turn tough times into triumph?

Posted in Leadership

3 Responses to “turning tough times into triumph”

  1. Joe McGinnis March 14, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Years ago I asked an older missionary for some advice on “understanding God’s will”. Here’s what he told me, “Trust in the Lord with all you heart! Choose to NOT lean on your own understanding. Be sure to acknowledge the fact that God is in complete control of your circumstances, and He’ll make sure your path is straight.” (prov. 3:5-6)

    He reminded me that God doesn’t promise to show us “the straight path, but instead he makes our journey exactly what we need. – our ‘straight path’.” Probably the best advice I’ve ever received in ministry.

  2. Tracy March 14, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    One thing that has kept me focused and moving forward in adversity when chaos swirls and threatens to send me in a negative direction, I remember something my mother said … “If you don’t know what to do — JUST DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING.” That has helped me tremendously when I’ve been overwhelmed or my head has been spinning, unsure of the right course of action. It keeps me here-and-now, focusing on what is right in front of me instead of scattered and all over the map.

  3. paul alexander March 14, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Joe it’s amazing how many people are waiting on a neon sign from heaven. Great take on Prov. 3:5-6! And Tracy I love the statement “Do the next right thing” great advice your mother gave you!

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