Flat Tires: Overcoming Adversity at Work

flat tireSo first, the good news…I finished my first triathlon this weekend! It was a slog, to be sure, but I finished, and that is what I was hoping to do.

The tri was not without incident, though…about halfway through the 12 mile bike loop, I got a flat on my bike. Argh! First time out – what luck. The best part of it was that I had a spare tube – and no pump. Great! I rode on it until I found a race official, who didn’t happen to have a pump either. I kicked the dirt, paced for about 15-20 minutes, and then saw the bike support car coming down the road. The driver was the owner of a bike shop in town, and he changed the flat in about 5 minutes. I hopped back on, was third from dead last of 460 to finish the bike, and went on to finish the run and the race.

After the event, several friends and acquaintances seemed surprised that I went on to finish after the flat. I really didn’t see any other way around it – my goal was to finish, and that’s what I was determined to do. Ok, truth be told, my first goal was actually to stay alive in the water (I didn’t know how to swim before training began), and then to finish.

Like my flat, you may encounter unexpected obstacles at work from time to time. How do you deal with them? Do you give up easily, thinking that you must be destined not to complete a particular task, experiment, project, paper? Or do you put your head down and barrel through? Here are a few tips taken from an article online that might help you find your way through a difficult period:

1. Acceptance is critical.

Mentally accepting the situation and acknowledging the setback will allow you to move beyond it. Rather than get caught up in the why-me’s and the self-pity that may occur when faced with a hardship, accept the situation and move on.

2. Recognize how adversity can be viewed as a positive.

Depending on the situation at hand, you may build new skills or gain strength through adversity – and you may find this personal growth enormously satisfying.

3. Get some fresh air.

Get out for a while! Leave the lab, go for a walk, go out for a drink with friends, go for a hike, take your dog to the park – take advantage of this glorious weather! Go to the movies, the mall, bowling, museums, restaurants, a play, a coffee shop, a pal’s apartment – anywhere you’ll have a good time.

4. Talk things through.

Use your support network, whether it be family, friends, colleagues, mentors, professional support staff, including those at OITE. Talking through your challenges will help you to release your emotions around them and assist you in planning steps to overcome them.

5. Find your inspiration.

Who inspires you? Is it a world-renowned scientist? An acquaintance who has been through a similar experience? A friend battling a disease? A family member who consistently sees opportunity in adversity? Focus on whomever it is that inspires you to move forward. Having an inspiration in mind can help drive you toward success.

Good luck – and for all you triathletes out there, don’t forget to pack a pump! 🙂

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