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The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Dealing With Adversity

Shit happens. Death, job loss, divorce, and bankruptcy: the list goes on and on. Our world moves very fast, so we are bound to bump up against obstacles and challenging situations. Part of earning your Guy’s Guy stripes is keeping cool under fire and making the most out of the curveballs life throws your way. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that often times what seems like a major headache can be a great teacher that opens a path for personal development. And this is important, because in a Guys’ Guy’s world, when men and women are at their best, everyone wins. So take a deep breath, relax and let’s take a look at my tips for handling adversity.

1. Don’t panic – When trouble strikes, a cool head can be your best support system. If you let nerves get the best of you, the problems can escalate quickly, especially if you have a knee-jerk reaction. If you have time, assess what’s going on, ask for guidance, and then act.

I once got caught in a riptide off the coast of LA while on vacation. At the time, I was unaware of the possibility of a rip current. My friends were high as kits and preoccupied with a Frisbee a ways down the desolate beach while I was being led out to sea. Time was of the essence so I did my best to swim along at a manageable angle to the current so I would not use all of my energy fighting the sea. Eventually I cut through the current and shook myself free of the tide. I needed all my strength and resilience, and maybe divine intervention to save myself. I was lucky, but maybe I helped create an opportunity by keeping my wits about me and conserving energy by not panicking.

2. Look for the lesson – And there is always a lesson. In the case of the riptide, I now make sure to check for warning signs before wading into the ocean. I also pay attention more after a long-term partner packed up and left me ten years ago. I had not been watching for the signs and I got hit right in the kisser. After being stabbed in the back a few times in business, I learned to be more careful about trusting people. I learned that not everyone holds the same standard about his or her words and deeds as I do. I may have never learned these valuable lessons if I was not handed some harsh realities. But guess what? I’m here and I am better for it

3. Take responsibility for your actions – I owned all of my actions that lead to some real-life challenges and hardships. I’m sure my lifestyle contributed to a painful kidney stone and two robotic surgeries on my kidneys last year. I am sure I could have been a better, more caring partner before my former lover said adios. And I am sure my cavalier trust led to being skewered in business a few times, That said, I will never lower my standards of behavior when others act badly. The point is; you have to own up to your shortcomings and not simply assign blame. Once we take ownership, we can make great strides as mature people.

4. Show gratitude – I know; it’s not easy to be thankful when someone screws you over for no apparent reason. That’s a special challenge, but it’s one worth facing. The pain of betrayal or loss can be great catalysts for change. I’m not suggesting that we invite people to spit in our faces, but the people who do bad things to us are in pain and on their own path of learning. They have a role in our lives. Although it might not be obvious on the surface, their doing bad things creates more pain for them. Karma is real and payback can be a bitch. Remember: duality is part of our lives. The quicker we accept the good with the bad, the more peace we will have. With more peace comes more joy. More joy becomes more love.

So next time someone cuts you off on the Garden State Parkway, or doesn’t pick up their dog’s poop, or steals your girlfriend, take a breath and consider the potential learning from the situation. Maybe the guy who cut you off will get a ticket or get into an accident. Maybe that dog poop will fertilize a beautiful flower. Maybe you were destined to meet a better, hotter girlfriend. Maybe not. How you take the bitter and the sweet in life is up to you. Take the high road, amigo. Take it like a Guy’s Guy.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is the Kentucky men’s basketball team. They suffered a heart-breaking loss in the NCAA semifinals of what would have been an unbelievable 40-0 perfect season. Maybe there is a lesson somewhere in that loss for these young men. Maybe not. It’s up to them to look inside and find out.