Guest Post by Frank Sonnenberg

It’s one thing to have a bad day yet quite another to fall on tough times. These are the times that shape character and show what you’re made of. Whether we’re confronted by a personal tragedy, faced with a serious financial crisis, or struck by an uncontrollable event, these are the times that test our will and our spirit.

Everyone reacts to these situations differently. Some people get angry, feel sorry for themselves, and cast blame; other people remain calm, create an action plan to move forward, and look for a trace of blue in the dark skies ahead. The fact is, the way you respond to these situations in the short term can impact your long-term success and happiness. As George S. Patton said:

“The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”

It’s important to keep the following in mind:

tough timesBe positive. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.

Remain calm and levelheaded. Count to ten. Try to make decisions based on fact rather than emotion.

Accept support. There are wonderful people who care about you. Don’t shut them out, or worse, take your problem out on them. They’re trying to help.

Learn from the past. Have you faced a similar situation in the past? Apply lessons learned. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Seek professional counsel. Identify someone to serve as a sounding board. Gain from their knowledge, experience, and objective viewpoint.

Face reality. Don’t run away from the problem; run toward it. Accept reality as it is, not as you want it to be.

Own the problem. Don’t waste precious time and energy making excuses or casting blame. Move forward rather than dwelling in the past.

Make tough choices. Don’t procrastinate or hold out for the perfect answer; there may not be one. Identify your options and create a plan of action. You’ll gain more from moving forward in a deliberate fashion than from running around like a chicken without a head.

Set priorities. Don’t treat every option or activity equally. It’s smarter to do the important things rather than to complete every item on your list.

Build momentum. Big problems are best solved in small pieces. Tackle short-term items to achieve wins while you address the root cause.

Remain true to your values. This is no time to compromise your integrity. Listen to your conscience. You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life.

Be loyal. Don’t throw anyone under the bus to save your hide. In fact, putting the needs of others first may supply the positive energy you need to move forward.

Find an outlet for relaxation. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Identify ways to relax and reduce stress. That’ll help you complete the mission with your sanity intact.

Be a leader. These are the times when real leaders show their character. Lead by example. Be the first to “take a hit” before asking others to do the same.

Never quit. As Richard M. Nixon said, “A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”

Keep the faith. When nothing seems to work, faith often does.

Learn from the experience. Make sure to learn from the experience. You may have to apply this lesson another day. One thing this teaches us is that life is filled with “ups and downs,” so make the most of the “in-betweens.”

This is adapted from Follow Your Conscience: Make a Difference in Your Life & in the Lives of Others By Frank Sonnenberg © 2014 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.

Guest Author

Frank SonnenbergFrank is an award-winning author. He has written five books and over 300 articles. Frank was recently named one of “America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders” and nominated as one of “America’s Most Influential Small Business Experts.” Frank has served on several boards and has consulted to some of the largest and most respected companies in the world. Additionally, FrankSonnenbergOnline was named among the “Best 21st Century Leadership Blogs.” Frank’s new book, Follow Your Conscience, is now available. © 2014 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.