How to Embrace Adversity and Say, “Come What May”

How to Embrace Adversity and Say, “Come What May”

This is Entrepreneurs of Faith, a Sunday episode of Monetization Nation. I’m Nathan Gwilliam, your host. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss ways we can embrace adversity and have the attitude of, “Come what may.” 

Come What May

In 2008, Joseph Wirthlin, an American businessman, and the religious leader gave a sermon titled, “Come What May, and Love It.” In his sermon, he shared a simple, yet powerful message he learned from his mother. 

When Wirthlin was a young boy, he loved to play sports. After a tough loss during a football game, he came home feeling discouraged. His mother listened to his story and said, “Joseph, come what may, and love it.”

When we experience hardships and disappointments we have to learn how to pick ourselves back up and move on. While we can’t control what trials we encounter, we can control how to react to them. 

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“[E]very life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don’t sing and bells don’t ring,” Wirthlin said. “Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.”

As entrepreneurs, we need to learn how to continue on after failures and adversity. There will be times when we lose an investment, a partner betrays us, or a client falls through. Yet despite these setbacks, we can find ways to smile and move forward.

How to Embrace Adversity 

As we experience adversity in our businesses, we can find ways to embrace it. 

Learn to Laugh

Wirthlin said the first thing we can do is learn to laugh. He asked, “Have you ever seen an angry driver who, when someone else makes a mistake, reacts as though that person has insulted his honor, his family, his dog, and his ancestors all the way back to Adam?” Instead of cursing at the world, we need to learn to laugh at these small hardships. 

Laughter can help reduce stress hormones, release tension in our muscles, increase endorphins to boost happiness levels and reset the brain to be more positive (Source: University of St. Augustine). As we laugh in our companies and stressful careers, we will actually improve our state of mind and enter into a better mindset to continue on despite adversity. 

“The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead,” Wirthlink said. “It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.”

Having a sense of humor is a trait many great entrepreneurs have. For example, Elon Musk has a sense of humor about failure. When SpaceX finally reached one of their goals, they posted a blooper reel showcasing all the mistakes they made along the way, including failed engine sensors and a collapsed landing leg (Source: Entrepreneur). They even posted a video titled, “How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster.”

When we have a sense of humor and learn to laugh, we will be encouraged to try again even after the most devastating failures. 

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Keep the Big Picture in Mind 

Whenever we experience adversity, we should keep the big picture in mind. We may be stuck in a rut on the road to a much greater destination. Wirthlin calls this seeking for the eternal. 

“You may feel singled out when adversity enters your life,” Wirthlin said. “You shake your head and wonder, ‘Why me?’ But the dial on the wheel of sorrow eventually points to each of us. At one time or another, everyone must experience sorrow. No one is exempt.”

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We need to understand that no one on earth has lived or will live a life without any pain, disappointment, or struggle. If we can remember this, it won’t feel like the end of the world when we hit a roadblock. Instead, it will feel like another hurdle we can jump over to continue on our journey.

“Learning to endure times of disappointment, suffering, and sorrow is part of our on-the-job training,” Wirthlin said. “These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are precisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character, and increase our compassion for others.”

As we keep the bigger picture in mind, we will recognize that adversity is only temporary. 

Trust in the Lord

Having faith and trust in the Lord will help us learn to accept and embrace adversity. We can know that the Lord would never give us a trial He knew we couldn’t handle. Each hardship in our lives has been given to us for a reason. 

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Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV) says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

As we trust in God, he will help direct our paths and bless us. 

Kenton Lee is the founder and inventor of the “shoe that grows.” He created a shoe that expands five sizes so that it can grow with an impoverished child for over five years. He has helped send more than 100,000 pairs of shoes to children in over 90 countries. However, this success didn’t come until after six years of adversity.  

[W]hatever God was calling me to, I really felt like I could do it, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen overnight,” Lee said. He continued, “People often ask me, ‘Why didn’t you quit? Didn’t you get so discouraged during those six years trying to work on this idea?’ We had a lot of ups and downs and a lot of rejection and failure during those six years. As people asked me that, I kind of said I never got discouraged really because my expectation wasn’t that this was going to happen overnight.” (Source: Technology of Work)

Lee kept the bigger picture in mind over the six years and continued forward with trust in God. He believed that God would help direct him down the path he needed to take. Sometimes we just have to do the best we can and then leave the rest in God’s hands. 

Look Back at Our Accomplishments 

A great way to overcome adversity and keep a positive mindset is looking back at and express gratitude for our previous accomplishments. It may feel like we go through failure after failure when starting a new business, but if we look back at where we started we may be surprised to see how far we’ve come. 

Arthur Godfry, an American radio and television broadcaster and entrepreneur, was able to do this in his career. He said, “Looking back on my achievements, it is fair to say that I am extremely proud of what I have done and accomplished so far.”

Godfrey went through much adversity in his life. Early in his career, he suffered severe injuries in a car accident. While he was in the hospital, he listened to the radio hour after hour, and when he was released, he got into radio and eventually got his own morning show on CBS radio (Source: New York Times). Godfrey didn’t let his adversity stop him from progressing. He continued moving forward, looking back on his previous accomplishments, and being grateful for where he was. 

Refuse to Give Up

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We shouldn’t give up just because we experience adversity. 

Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motor Co., Ltd, said, “Success is 99% failure.” At 15 years old, Honda left high school to work in an auto repair shop. He eventually opened his own branch and while working at the shop, he created automotive parts for Toyota, but they were rejected (Source: Quality Logo Products). However, he didn’t let this rejection stop him.

When gas became scarce after World War II, he created a small 2-stroke motor that would need little gas to operate. Now, Honda is worth about $52 billion (Source: Macro Trends). 

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As we go through adversity, we should find an opportunity for growth. 

“I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life,” Wirthlin said. “If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.” 

Key Takeaways

Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

1. Let adversity come and choose to embrace it. 

2. We should learn to laugh. Laughter can reduce stress hormones, release tension, boost happiness levels, and reset the brain to be more positive.

3. Whenever we experience adversity, we should keep the big picture in mind. We may be stuck in a rut on the road to a much greater destination. 

4. As we trust in God, he will help direct our paths and bless us. 

5. A great way to overcome adversity and keep a positive mindset is looking back at our previous accomplishments. 

6. As we go through adversity, we should find an opportunity for growth. 

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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