We often see adversity break people down. Difficulties come knocking and it just seems like the flood gates of challenges are opened. One after the other, beating down on a person’s soul with unforgiving force. So many times these difficulties can take us back a notch, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. I know, I have been there. What I found to be important was not only surviving through the adversity, but also I needed to thrive from it. This can seem impossible and downright insulting if you are in the face of adversity, but once I gained this new perspective about what was going on, I started to use difficulties to help me learn, grow and yes even thrive.

I rarely watch T.V. but the other night a show caught my attention and I couldn’t seem to peel away from the couch once I started watching. I know now it was a repeat, so you may already know the show. It was an episode from “Extreme Make-Over: Weight Loss Edition” An obese guy named Tony had sent a letter to the show’s trainer Chris Powell. Powell shows up out of the blue while Tony and his finance (also over weight) are sitting down at a wedding cake store tasting cakes for their upcoming wedding. They are surprised by a knock on the storefront window and turn around to see none other than Chris Powell. As the story continues, it takes several twists and turns with so many adversities in Tony’s way, you are left wondering HOW will he ever stay on track through THIS difficulty? The first difficulty that is heartbreaking hits immediately into his 1 year challenge when he gets a phone call from his ex-wife letting him know their son who has cerebral palsy is in the hospital. Tony instantly breaks down, and at the same time knows he must stay because standing in the hospital will not do anything for their son. As the story continues, Tony is faced with the realization his fiance is not going to be getting on board with the weight loss program and she shows no enthusiasm for what he is doing. Her support has dwindled, and now she is resentful of his progress (he is loosing weight and exercising regularly). He realizes that she is not going to be in his corner and makes the very hard decision to leave and call their engagement off. This decision, necessary for him to stay on track, unfortunately this means he will be living in his car and couch surfing for months to come. So homeless he finds parking lots to do his exercises, goes to a gym to use weights and the shower.  He meets several more heart breaking obstacles, like the death of his son towards the end of his challenge. Although Tony admits that his head-space was taking an incredible emotional toll, he managed to stay committed. The story ends happy with Tony not only loosing all the weight, he ends up getting a $50k Wal-Mart gift card to help him furnish his new apartment he got (with his new girlfriend). This weight loss challenge took place in 2012 and a follow-up story was done on him in 2014. He still had is weight off and was even working on a new healthy cook-book that is probably out by now.

I was thinking about Tony and the decisions that were so hard to make yet, he made them. I as pondering how the same decisions could be applied to the entrepreneur, salesperson journey (or any challenging, new venture that an individual might face). Here is what I came up with.

  • Said No To The Wrong Things

This has got to be the hardest of all, because saying no to the wrong things is not always the popular decision if your not being supported. Letting go of the first woman in his life was hard for him, but he knew, the people who love you want wants best for you. He needed to say no to the wrong things, and move out even if that meant living homeless. His life was about to be cut short by his own health, so you do what you gotta do.

Sometimes on a new business path or personal journey you will not always get the support from your current inner circle. Have the courage to create a new one if necessary. You can have them both or like Tony, you might need to move away from where you are. Many times, new ideas can’t grow and blossom until we weed out the garden.

  • Focused On What He Could Control Only

How heartbreaking it was for Tony to not be with his son while in the hospital. At the same time, he knew that both of them were in a fight for their lives and the best way to parent is lead by example. There was nothing he could do about the situation so he stayed and pressed on, instead using his son as the reason for his relentless fight throughout the challenge.

So many times in business we can get caught up in situations to the point we are focusing so much on problems, that is all we see. To accept things exactly as they are and continue to stay in an appropriate solution is the key to scaling walls that are dropped down in front of you. Acknowledge things aren’t how you want, lay out an action plan and stick with it. Don’t let the problem become two problems, then three, etc. Problems, much like solutions have a compound effect.

  • Ask For Help

This one is key because it is not only that Tony asked for help, he got the right help and from someone who was living a life he admired. He and Chris Powell became fast friends and Chris really showed Tony what it was like to have a strong support backing him.

It can be said, getting a business coach can turn things around for a person. They can be pricey so if you are just starting out, getting with groups who are on the same journey and have regular meetings is very helpful. If you are a blogger, it is helpful to find another blogger who is as committed as you are and do weekly Skypes. Accountability is really important so if you can’t find a support network, perhaps consider start one! Facebook groups are a great way to manage a group and if you are driving it, you have even more accountability to show up and do the work! But don’t forget to ask for help. Everything from Virtual Assistants to friends, mentors and accountability partners. It takes a village and your unremitting desire.

  • Goals

Tony had goals throughout the entire challenge. He and Chris Powell met face to face a few times and each time Tony got a new goal.The first 90 days, 100 lbs and on an on until Tony finally lost all 200lbs.

Goals are so important for focus and commitment. Goals will keep you on track, give you something to strive for and help to keep the priorities front and center. They are also great to reveal what is working and what is not. After I put together my monthly goals, I use stickies to tape them along the bottom of my computer with my “WhY” so I see them as soon as I log in. When I want to go surf kitty cat videos on YouTube, I have my sticky goals staring me in the face asking if that would be the best use of my time.

Adversity almost always strikes as soon as we begin to take a step in the right direction. Why? Because sometimes, when it seems like everything is falling apart, it is actually falling together. Keep the faith and stay strong.


Hi, I'm Lisa Illman.

Business Development Consulting.

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