Adversity is a Catalyst for Change

Adversity is a catalyst for change

To say that 2020 has been a tough year is an understatement. The pandemic has fundamentally changed how we live and work. In the first half of this year, I observed many clients take a cautious approach. They cut spending and lowered expectations, with the goal of surviving the pandemic. Fortunately, all of them have survived and successfully weathered the storm.

Adversity is a Catalyst for Change

While that is very good news, recently I’ve seen a shift in their outlook. I no longer sense they see the pandemic as a threat that needs to be overcome.  Instead, they now see adversity is a catalyst for change.  They are accepting and adapting to a new way of life.

Change starts with acceptance. If we stay in a mindset of resentment (it’s not fair) or resignation (we need to hunker down), we are choosing to be victims. If we accept what’s happened, we can choose to move on and look for new possibilities that are available to us.

New Possibilities Emerge When Things Seem Bleak

With a mindset of acceptance and possibility, we can look for opportunities to adapt. Some examples come to mind from the first and upcoming second season of the podcast, ‘Leadership Is No Accident‘. In season one, Franz Maruna, the founder and CEO of Portland Labs, explained how they almost went out of business in the 2008 recession. Faced with dwindling sales, they gave away their product and created one of the most successful open source content management platforms available today.

Last week, I interviewed David Rae, the co-founder and leader of TEDxPortland. It is one of the top TEDx franchises in the world. 2020 is their 10th year and they planned a celebratory event at the Moda Center in Portland. They aimed to sell 7,500 tickets, a very big deal for a not for profit. Of course, the event was cancelled leaving them short of funds and without a platform to fulfill their purpose – to share ideas. When things seemed bleak, the local KGW TV station offered to host a quarterly one hour TEDxPortland special. And now, out of adversity they have a new platform.

Choosing to Accept Reality and Embrace Change

Don’t get me wrong, change is hard and it has been very difficult for David and Franz. At the same time, they both recognize how it has helped them adapt and change. They accepted reality and chose to think differently.

My interview with David Rae will feature in the second season of ‘Leadership Is No Accident‘. The new series of podcasts will available before the end of November.