Smartful Coaching

Adversity Flip™

Turn Adversity Over to Find Something Good

12 December

Did Everything Right and Adversity Still Shows Up

Have you ever felt like this? I handled everything very well, but still came up on the short end of the stick?

Maybe it was a difficult conversation. You spent the time needed to prepare, found the right environment and the right way to say what you wanted to say, but the other person took it poorly.

It would be great if the amount of effort and our intentions were always major factors in creating a successful outcome. Often they only play a minor role.

Sometimes adversity just happens. When it does, you have to deal with it as best as you can.

A big part of dealing with it the best you can is looking for the lesson. I truly believe you can find something meaningful and helpful in nearly every situation,  if you look. However, there will be that rare instance when it was strictly just adversity and there was little, if anything to learn.

When that happens, maybe the best lesson is to just let it go and move on.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

14 March

How Comfortable Are You With Yourself?

I was reading an article recently that spoke to how comfortable individuals are with themselves or more to the point, how they can become more comfortable in their own skins. There are certainly times in life when you’re more comfortable than others and that can be attributed to any number of factors ranging from being happy with your physical self, being in a good (or bad) place mentally or emotionally and even feeling good about your work or career choices.

There are also times in your life when you simply need to step back and ask, “Am I in touch with my true self? Do I even know who my true self is?” Here are some items to consider when trying to reveal the inner you:

  • Take time to reflect on the items you loved, the hobbies you pursued or the simple things that just made you laugh. When is the last time you enjoyed any of those?
  • What do you do right now that completely makes you lose track of time? Gardening? Crochet? Playing or listening to music? Taking the dog for a walk? Write those down and make sure you plan to do those items regularly. Indulge yourself.
  • What is your ideal vacation? Hiking? Relaxing in a hot tub overlooking a snow capped mountain? Skiing? Exploring antique shops in quaint towns? Is it feasible to either plan one of those trips or even to indulge in those activities with a day trip?
  • When you open the newspaper what articles do you read first? When you pick up a magazine, what type do you buy and what do you read first? These activities can give you insight into long buried interests or may pique new ones.

Spend some time with your answers then put together an action plan to make them happen. They don’t have to happen all at once, but you do need to take time out of your week to simply be in tune with yourself; it will help you recharge your mental energies and make the rest of the week more bearable.

  Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and creative thinker. She works with entrepreneurs providing professional writing services including: writing web copy, newsletters, guest and ghost blogging and long letter copywriting. She is also a speaker on the subjects of time management, writing and productivity. “Helping entrepreneurs find the ‘write’ words!” 

08 July

Bad Behavior = Good Results?

“I thank the Lord for the people I have found.” 

~ from the song Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters by Elton John

When was the last time you took time to be thankful for the people that have come into your life?  I mean all of them – every single person?  Yes, even the ones that have treated you poorly.

I used to think I should only be thankful for the people that treated me well.

As life has moved forward, I’ve learned it is important to be thankful for everyone. Sure when someone snaps at you or says a harsh word, the natural reaction is to be upset & distance oneself from them.

But if you look at the bigger picture, that person is a teacher.

Yes, someone’s bad behavior can turn into good results for you…if you let it.

The first lesson – be more understanding toward others. You can use their behavior to become less reactionary, less judgemental & more forgiving – basically, to give them them a break, cut them some slack.  Afterall, let’s face it, none of us know the full story with someone else.  Something painful from their childhood may be surfacing,  they may have just had a big fight with a family member, be dealing with money problems or any number of other things.

The second lesson – they’re giving me a front row seat to see how “not” to behave.  I experience exactly how that treatment makes me feel & know I don’t want to make anyone else feel that way.

I truly believe that everyone comes into our lives for a reason & there is something for us to learn from them.

Isn’t it time to be thankful for all the people that have come into your life?  The challenging people in your life can actually help you become a better person, if you let them.


06 May

Gratitude & Adversity

“Gratitude allows us to put life back in balance. When you live with constant gratitude, your life will become a living prayer.” 

~ Barbara DeAngelis, from her book: Real Moments

You may be wondering what gratitude has to do with adversity.

A lot.

It’s easy to be grateful when things go well. How many of us are grateful when things don’t go well, when life is filled with adversity?

It’s important to be grateful for all of life. Even the adversity.

Adversity is where the growth is. Adversity allows us to rise above it.  Adversity is where the lesson is.

Life itself is both triumph & adversity. How can we triumph without adversity? Have you ever been inspired by someone overcoming “the good life”?

No. Every story of inspiration is about overcoming adversity.

 “Our pain can be our greatest teacher. It leads us to places we’d never go on our own.” 

~ Debbie Ford, from her book: The Dark Side of the Light Chasers

My father died when I was 9. I’ve been divorced twice. My daughter has disowned me. Do I wish these things had been different. Absolutely.

Yet at the same time I learned & am grateful for the lessons.

From my dad’s death, I learned to:

  • never take loved ones for granted
  • be grateful that my mom is still living – some have lost both parents
  • be grateful that my dad lived as long as he did – some never know their father at all

With divorce, I learned that:

  • it’s important to follow both my heart & my head
  • I need to love & respect myself before I can truly love & respect another
  • love alone isn’t enough, you have to like, respect & understand each other

With my daughter refusing to speak to me, there are times I think that all I’ve learned is heartache. But then I realize I’ve learned:

  • true love is expressing your feelings, regardless of whether the other person will express theirs or not
  • to focus less on the outcome & more on making sure I’ve done the best that I am able to do
  • once I’ve done all that I can, to be patient, let go & turn things over to our creator in faith & trust

Do I wish these events in my life had played out differently? Yes.

Yet, I’m grateful for what I’ve learned as a result. Adversity has helped me experience significant personal growth & become a stronger person.

It all comes down to a matter of perspective. And we all can change our perspectives if we choose to. Find ways to be grateful for adversity.







07 April

Dealing with Adversity – The 3rd Option

When something bad happens in your life, what do you do?

A common reaction is to “numb out”…with alcohol, mindless tv, or some other unproductive thing.

Another approach is to aggressively try to “undo” the adversity.  Along the lines of: we have this problem, now we have to fix it.

There is a 3rd option many people either forget about or consciously choose to avoid.

The 3rd option is to just “be with the adversity”:

  • Admit it’s real (don’t deny it)
  • Accept it (don’t run from it)
  • See it for what it is…a chance to grow (don’t try to fix it)

Earlier in life I found myself often utilizing the 1st option – numbing out. Later in life, I saw that wasn’t the best approach. So I started using the “fix it” approach. The “fix it” approach can be effective at times.

However, I’ve now learned that the 3rd option is the most valuable.

To hunker down with the adversity & say: “Ok, it’s you & me, what now?”

This opens your heart & mind to possibilities. It makes you receptive to learning & growth.

The times when I’ve just been with my adversity – an amazing amount of goodness always comes out of it.


Those  are the times when I’ve experienced the most growth in my life.

What do you think?  Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section.



26 December

Once the Crisis is Over…

“Crisis forces you to pay attention, to your life, to your relationships, and to yourself.  It acts like a high-powered searchlight that focuses its beam so intensely on something, illuminating it in every detail, that you can’t see anything else.”

~ Real Moments by Barbara DeAngelis

In my life I’ve found the above quote to be true…learning valuable lessons about life, self & others.

And, there’s no doubt that crisis forces you to focus. It’s only natural that you want the crisis to be over as quickly as possible.

But here’s where you might miss out. Once the crisis is over, you may just continue on with life as usual. If you do, you’ve missed a big opportunity to examine the crisis in order to learn.

So next time something difficult in your life has ended, remember to take some time to use the searchlight provided.



08 November

Coming Out of the Fog

Ever been so overwhelmed, you didn’t fully appreciate how overwhelmed you were until you had some relief from it?

This was me the last few months. The relief I felt recently was eye-opening.

I was telling a friend about it. I said it was like being in a fog where I could only see a few inches in front of me. It wasn’t until the fog started lifting, that I could truly appreciate how thick the fog had been.

So, I started thinking about what lessons there might be in this. If you’re feeling repeatedly overwhelmed, consider asking yourself the following questions:

1) Is the cause temporary or permanent?

For me, it was temporary so I just had to grind it out. If it’s permanent,  you have to do some serious soul-searching to find out how to make it temporary.

2) Who is the source – you, another person or an outside influence?

If you’re the source, ask yourself what benefits you get.  Do the negatives outweigh the benefits?  If so, it’s time to take another path.

If the source is another person, consider changing the way you interact with that person.

If it’s an outside influence is there a way to reduce that influence’s impact?

3) What is the risk of walking away?

Walking away involves risk. Staying overwhelmed involves risk too. It’s best to weigh the risks & benefits of staying vs walking away.

I considered walking away from 1 of the classes I was teaching. This would have given me significant relief. But the risk was too great – disrupting the students & causing the school to scramble to find a replacement mid-semester.

What do you think? Let me hear your thoughts in the comment section below.



31 October

Perfection – Time to Give it Up

You’re probably wondering what perfection has to do with adversity.

Both have to do with expectations.

Also, all too often we expect ourselves & our lives to be perfect…that is, adversity-free.

No one’s ever lived an adversity-free life. You might as well face it – adversity is a part of life. A part of your life.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”

~ Anna Quindlen

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for doing the best you can.  I’m all for working to improve oneself & one’s craft.

The problem is when you expect perfection from yourself &/or your surroundings.

So, what does all this mean?

Expect adversity. Expect that you live in an imperfect world.

Adjusting your expectations like this will reduce the frustration you feel from adversity. It will smooth out some of the rough spots.

For those who want to ramp it up & take it one step farther…

Don’t just expect adversity, embrace it.

What do I mean by embracing it? To look for the learning opportunity within the adversity…from the very moment that adversity enters your life.

I know, that sounds kind of nutty. But, try it & you’ll be amazed at the profound way it changes your outlook on life.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.


25 October

Worst Time Can Be The Best – Huh?

“One day you will look back on this ‘worst time’ in your life as a fortuitous event. Even your worst times have value and can become, in retrospect, your best times.” ~ Andy Andrews, in The Noticer

Has this happened to you?

It happened to me.

Going through something gut-wrenching. Can’t wait for it to be over.

Then months or years later you look back on it & realize that even with the anguish, some great things happened too.

“The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has it’s roots in earth and manure.”  ~D.L. Lawrence

For example, I was in college, majoring in Engineering, & received an “F” on an engineering exam. At that moment I thought of myself as a total failure in life. I felt completely lost.

That “F” helped me realize I’d enrolled in Engineering because I didn’t know what else to study. That “F” caused me to search for another major. My search uncovered both Computers & Teaching.  I had a long, rewarding career in the field of Computers. And, Teaching is something I truly love…and continue to enjoy even to this day.

I now look back on that “F” as a positive turning point in my life.

Another example…

My second job in the corporate world sounded like a dream job…

  • Project manager for a software company
  • 25% travel, some  of it international

Once I started the job it was nothing like I expected:

  • Travel was last minute & often changed multiple times
  • I was working 60-70 hours/week & was continually told to work more hours
  • After 9 months my travel schedule was upped to  100%

I didn’t want 100% travel & asked the company if they had another job for me.  They didn’t.

The new client had on-site project manager written into the contract. Suddenly my job wasn’t available unless I agreed to 100% travel.

I’ve always believed you don’t quit a job without having another lined up. But, I went counter to that & turned in my resignation letter.

I was flying without a net.

I now see this experience was another turning point in my life.  There were many benefits, I:

  • Learned to ask better questions, so I better understood what to expect from employers & others
  • Discovered a love for travel
  • Got my first passport
  • Reinforced the need to stand up for myself
  • Relocated to a larger city, where I made good friends
  • Learned to take a leap of faith

It was 14 years ago I left that company. Late last year I realized another leap of faith would be needed to move across country without a permanent job lined up.  That experience from 14 years ago gave me the strength & commitment to make my most recent leap of faith.

I’m so glad it did.

I’m now teaching 3 classes, my business is growing & I’ve met some wonderful people.

So, what do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.







04 October

Sharing Bad News

Today I told him.

Bad news.

I had to withdraw a student from class.

I’ve always despised having to tell someone bad news. No one likes giving or getting bad news.

Once I got beyond past feeling badly for the student, I started reflecting about other times when I’ve shared bad news.

I realized that in my former career I shared bad news quite often.

As a result I learned some valuable lessons about sharing bad news. Next time you have to share bad news, keep the following 4 principles in mind:

Don’t sugar-coat it:

Trying to make it sound better than it is, doesn’t benefit anyone. At best, the person is confused. At the worst, they’re angry and feel  insulted  that you’re trying to make something bad sound like it’s good.

Get right to it:

If you take time for small talk, the other person will see you’re distracted and anxious. This will make them more tense and anxious. You’ll notice their agitated state and you will become more tense and anxious too. The longer you take to get to the point, the more likely you are to deliver the message poorly.

Be concise:

Over-explaining it just lead to confusion and possibly more anger. If you aren’t concise, you can have the same problem as above – increased chances that you’ll deliver the message poorly.

Be direct, but consider feelings:

It may not be obvious when you first deliver the news, but in the long-run the person will respect that you cared enough to tell them directly. Being direct while being respectful about the other person’s feelings is the most humane way to go.

What do you think?  Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section below.