I think it’s safe to say most people have had a better start to their year than Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. He said as much in a recent internal all-hands-meeting (as reported via a recording of the meeting CNBC obtained). Said Bezos:
If you don’t mind, just raise your hand, if maybe–just maybe–you’ve had a better start to your 2019 than I have. Anybody? I noticed that a couple hands didn’t come up, I’m sorry for you guys.
Look, we all know this guy has earned the crappy start to his 2019. His widely publicized divorce tied to his affair with news anchor Lauren Sanchez, questionable social sharing choices, a PR hailstorm from the New York abandonment of HQ2 (which many feel had plenty to do with Bezos’ attitude towards the whole thing).
But this isn’t about raking the guy over the coals some more–if you were hoping for that I’m sorry to disappoint. I was much more drawn to something Bezos said a bit later in the employee town hall, as he sought to reassure that he was still all-in on running the company and wasn’t going anywhere:
But seriously, no. I’m as engaged and focused on Amazon as ever. I still tap dance into the office. I get to work with remarkable people. I get to live and work in the future. And that’s where I like to be, so thank you.
Jeff Bezos, despite a heinous time in his life, still tap dances into the office.
I know what you’re thinking. Sure, if you could afford to give away half of your wealth in a divorce settlement and still be stinking rich, if you ran the most watched/beloved/hated company in the world, you too, could tap dance into work. Or break dance. Line dance. Whatever.
We all go through adversity. I cast no judgment one way or another about its ferocity relative to the Amazon CEO’s. But wouldn’t it be great if through it all, whatever it is that we individually face, we could emerge from it with some form of joy, a reframing and perspective applied to keep us whole?
I’d like that for you. And me.
Here are reminders to us both on how to keep things in perspective in adversity to emerge all the stronger.
1. Re-anchor your anchor.
Times of adversity obviously brings challenge–and often brings change, too. We tend to hate change because it makes us feel untethered, like we’re rattling in the wind when we’d rather have our feet firmly planted on the ground.
I’ve always found it helpful in such times to remember what the adversity and associated change won’t change about me that’s important (like my connection with my family, my core values, or my purpose to inspire others to become the best version of themselves).
By staying grounded this way, we stay anchored to what matters and to what can serve as a source of constancy, even in the face of painful adversity and associated change. It’s an anchor that lifts you up instead of weighing you down.
2. Think of adversity like a software upgrade.
Think of adversity like a virus attacking your operating system. When you handle it head on you become stronger and more resistant to the next wave of adversity. I try to think of how my “system has been upgraded” after I go through something rough–how the malware has improved my hardware, and how I’m more hardwired for future resilience.
I’m not saying it’s as easy as flipping a switch or just uploading a new attitude, but it’s a calming process that helps me turn the damage of adversity on its head.
3. Move on to move up.
Adversity gets us stuck. We lament what we’re going through, why it couldn’t have happened to someone more deserving of it. Or just plain, why?
Let me set aside adversity of the truly traumatic or grief-stricken kind–that deserves separate consideration.
Research shows that when it comes to the more “day-to-day” yet still serious adversity we can face, it’s important to accept what’s happened and what’s out of your control and to move quickly into recovery, repair, and reflection mode. This includes learning from whatever part you may have had in bringing about the adversity to begin with or reflecting upon how you handled it along the way.
Let’s hope you never face self-induced adversity like Jeff Bezos is going through. But whatever form it takes, here’s to hoping you can manage your way to a macarena in the end.