It’s one thing to have a bad day yet quite another to fall on tough times. These are the days when it’s hard to get out of bed, not knowing how you’re going to make it through the day. These are the days when it feels like the world is crumbling around you and you’ve been hit by a two-by-four by the time you go to bed at night. Yet, these are the times that shape character and show what you’re made of. So what do tough times say about you?
Unfortunately, for most of us, there comes a time when we will experience a major setback. Whether we’re confronted by a personal tragedy, faced with a serious financial crisis, or struck by an uncontrollable event, these are the times that test our will and our spirit.
Everyone reacts to these situations differently. Some people get angry, feel sorry for themselves, and cast blame; other people remain calm, create an action plan to move forward, and look for a trace of blue in the dark skies ahead. The fact is, the way you respond to these situations in the short term can impact your long-term success and happiness. As George S. Patton said, “The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”
Character Matters During Tough Times
Be Positive. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
Remain calm and levelheaded. Count to ten. Try to make decisions based on fact rather than emotion.
Accept support. There are wonderful people who care about you. Don’t shut them out, or worse, take your problem out on them. They’re trying to help.
Learn from the past. Have you faced a similar situation in the past? Apply lessons learned. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Seek professional counsel. Identify someone to serve as a sounding board. Gain from their knowledge, experience, and objective viewpoint.
Face reality. Don’t run away from the problem; run toward it. Accept reality as it is, not as you want it to be.
Own the problem. Don’t waste precious time and energy making excuses or casting blame. Move forward rather than dwelling in the past.
Make tough choices. Don’t procrastinate or hold out for the perfect answer; there may not be one. Identify your options and create a plan of action. You’ll gain more from moving forward in a deliberate fashion than from running around like a chicken without a head.
Set priorities. Don’t treat every option or activity equally. It’s smarter to do the important things rather than to complete every item on your list.
Build momentum. Big problems are best solved in small pieces. Tackle short-term items to achieve wins while you address the root cause.
Remain true to your values. This is no time to compromise your integrity. Listen to your conscience. You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life.
Be loyal. Don’t throw anyone under the bus to save your hide. In fact, putting the needs of others first may supply the positive energy you need to move forward.
Find an outlet for relaxation. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Identify ways to relax and reduce stress. That’ll help you complete the mission with your sanity intact.
Be a leader. These are the times when real leaders show their character. Lead by example. Be the first to “take a hit” before asking others to do the same.
Never quit. As Richard M. Nixon said, “A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”
Keep the faith. When nothing seems to work, faith often does.
Learn from the experience. Make sure to learn from the experience. You may have to apply this lesson another day. One thing this teaches us is that life is filled with “ups and downs,” so make the most of the “in-betweens.”
From Tough Times to Good Times
Believe in yourself. This too shall pass. This isn’t the first or the last time that you’re going to face tough times. If the situation is within your control, do something about it; if not, accept it for what it is and try to make the best of it. You survived the last time you faced a crisis, and you will this time as well. Remember, it’s not going to get better by sitting around. In fact, left unattended, small problems often become bigger ones.
It’s easy to look like a star when times are good, but when times are tough, your true character comes into full view. Be strong. Don’t compromise your integrity; don’t lower your standards; and above all, don’t quit. You’re better than that. You owe it to yourself to overcome the problem, as you have so many times before. There is great wisdom in Friedrich Nietzsche’s truism, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” The key is to get through tough times with dignity and grace. So hold your head up high. No one ever said it’s easy. And for that, you’ll have more reason to be proud when it’s over. Tough times say a lot about us. Let’s hope that they say only good things about you!