Nature doesn’t operate by a standard of fairness. It doesn’t even understand the idea. No matter how much you or I want that blanket of security, it’s just not the reality of our world.
Things happen. Opportunities flourish and adversity strikes. Blessings arrive and disasters unfold. We try our best to create fairness and avoid crashes, but the sheer volume, complexity, and competing priorities around us make it an unavoidable reality. Eventually it lands on all our doorsteps.
Events do not and will not happen according to your preferences. If you expect them to, it's a mistake of your own doing. Not only is it an impossible expectation of reality, but it’s also a foolish position to put yourself in.
The first thing you can do is adjust your expectations.
Reality has always been turbulent and unpredictable. It will continue to be, no matter what we do. Stability is not the norm. When you have it, be grateful.
The second thing you can do is prepare yourself to be ready for anything.
Opportunity and adversity, fair and unfair, expected and unexpected.
Some people use realism as an excuse for lack of optimism while others use optimism as an excuse for lack of realism. Some people use urgency as an excuse for lack of patience while others use patience as an excuse for lack of urgency.
These are weak mindsets that keep you in a weak position. You want to stay in a position of strength.
Here’s a four-step strategy that stands the test of time.
Always face the truth. Embrace reality, no matter what it says. Deal with what is, as it is, not as you wish it was. Look what’s real right in the face. But don’t confuse realism with pessimism.
Pessimism is the false belief that it will continue to stay bad forever and nothing you do matters. A pessimistic approach ignores options, pretends like it knows the future, and is emotional while pretending to be rational. It uses unthinking, autopilot emotion to prevent productive action.
Always see the path forward. Believe in your capability. Advance on what’s in front of you, even if you can’t see to the end. Be courageous about working in uncertainty. With relentless optimism you can continue and get through.
Optimism is the true belief that you will endure, you will improve, and it will eventually get better. An optimistic approach isn’t naive. It doesn’t pretend. It doesn’t care about being exclusively rational. It uses the rational and the emotional on-purpose to drive productive action.
The early bird gets the worm but good things come to those who wait. To some people these are competing statements, but they’re both true. You just need to combine two things that are rarely combined: urgency and patience.
Urgency is the mindset that creates focused effort to win the next five minutes, 15 minutes, two hours of your day. It’s the productive use of time.
Speed can be one outcome of urgency, but speed isn’t the goal. Urgency means action on a priority. It’s an intense, complete focus on what’s important now to maximize the moment.
Patience is the mindset that allows things the time they need to develop. There are so many things in life that don’t happen quickly. That includes the adversity you face. Sometimes it’s going to suck for a while.
But people want results immediately and their problems fixed now. An impatient mindset is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. The time always passes. Six months from now, two years from now, or 10 years from now you’ll either be glad you were patient or regret that you weren’t.
That’s how you put yourself in a position of strength no matter your circumstances.
Ground yourself with realism. Elevate yourself with optimism. Accelerate yourself with urgency. Secure yourself with patience.
Be realistic in your understanding and optimistic in your belief. Be urgent in your effort and patient for your outcomes.
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Brian Kight is a multi-industry leader on the topics of leadership, culture, and behavior. He provides simple systems that produce exceptional results for organizations, teams, and people.