Adversity is one of the most powerful forces in life. It can bring out your best or your worst. Ultimately, it is up to you.

How will you handle obstacles? Will they be roadblocks or springboards? Will adversity turn your focus from getter better to getting bitter? Or will you see adversity-laced setbacks as true gifts and growth accelerators that provide the opportunity to believe in yourself, revitalize your commitment to what you want to achieve, and reassess what you are willing to sacrifice to make it happen?

I have seen the approach to adversity play out in all walks of life and unfortunately the most common response to adversity is to try and make it go away. The reality is that when you take away adversity you also take away one of the most important ingredients to greatness.

Nowhere is the effect of trying to eliminate adversity more telling that in youth sports. Well-intentioned parents often try to level the field for their children so they get a fair shake, get their chance, or even worse, see the athletic success of their children connected to their success as a parent.

In the worst of cases, the attitude develops that the world is an unfair place that they can't do much about which allows adversity and adversity-rich experiences to lead to a victim mentality. When adversity is avoided or kept from us, it prevents the rich roots of character, learning, resilience, creativity and conviction to germinate.

Adversity plays a vital role in growth and greatness. In simple terms: no adversity, no growth. Instead of avoiding adversity, we need to hug it! It is the fuel for greatness.

You don't have to like it. You don't have to enjoy it. But, you do have to believe in it and the role it plays in turning a storm of energy into a true source of strength. It is the learning that comes from the adversity that creates the opportunity for growth.

Here are 7 key ways to reframe adversity as a close friend rather than a fierce enemy.

  1. Build Character---Overcoming adversity is character building. It shapes us into who we are and who we will become. It creates the confidence to overcome and the learning mechanisms to deal with the things that don't go our way.
  2. Create Resilience---Learning to deal with and address adversity is what creates resilience. Every challenge we face and navigate strengthens our will, confidence, and our ability to conquer future obstacles.
  3. Learn from Discomfort---Regardless how sharp, clever or talented we are, we will encounter struggles, challenges, difficulties, and at times, heart-wrenching moments. Is this to be avoided? adversity resounding, NO!. In times of adversity, we learn the most from the discomfort and rethink what's required to be successful.
  4. Draw Out Our True Strengths---Adversity has the effect of drawing out our strengths and qualities that would have laid dormant without it.
  5. Accept It---Accept that adversity is inevitable ...it is a part of life. To avoid it or resist it will only make it come back in bigger ways. Better yet see it and embrace it as a true gift on the road to getting better.
  6. Build External Resources....Adversity helps us find a buddy. You will be surprised how often someone will have had a similar experience and can help guide you through a difficult time.
  7. We Succeed Because of It---Make no mistake. We don't succeed in spite of our challenges, we succeed because of them!

There is something powerful about adversity that has the ability to imprint in our memory, shaping our character, and molding our behavior for the future.

Once you can get your head around why adversity can be a force for good, you will be better able to embrace challenges and grow from overcoming them. The impact on your people and your organization can be enormous, so start that mindset shift today!

In the words of Henry Ford---"When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it".

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Published on: Dec 7, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.