turning adversity into opportunity

Attendees at a recent conference learned about how they can turn adversity into opportunity.

How can adversity become a springboard to growth?

At the 2022 Creative Problem Solving Institute Conference, researchers Tim Basadur and Dana Sendziol, Ph.D. led participants through an experiential workshop. It focused on the discovery of how resiliency and creative problem solving go together in turning adversity into opportunity. The characteristics of creative and resilient individuals represent more than half of the top 15 most essential job skills (World Economic Forum, 2020). Some of these characteristics include initiative, adaptability, inventive problem solving, and proactive preparation for future challenges.

A new workforce

Changes in the workforce resulting from the global pandemic have only made the need for resilience and creativity more acute (Accenture, 2021; Microsoft, 2021). Gallup’s 2021 State of the Global Workplace report emphasized the importance to have employees who are highly innovative, agile, and resilient.

A 2020 report from the ADP Research Institute global workplace survey revealed that just 15 percent of workers could be categorized as highly resilient. Additionally, they define workplace resilience as “the capacity of an individual to withstand, bounce back from, and work through challenging circumstances or events at work.”

In fact, creativity has been found to be an outcome of more resilient employees (Shin, Taylor & Seo, 2012). It’s also the main contributor to employees’ having the resilience they need to persist in producing quality work in adverse situations (Parker, Bindl, & Strauss, 2010).

Read more about landing a job in 3 key characteristics of hireable people.

Tips for increasing resilience with creativity

In order to grow resilience, the Resilience Alliance and Basadur Applied Innovation suggest:

Increase your creative thinking

Move from “either/or” thinking, which tends to polarize ideas, to “both/and” thinking. This helps open up a range of options, connections, and possibilities.

Defer judgment

Consider the source of stress and adversity at work. Therefore you can fully consider your situation objectively and creatively.

Define the problem

Recognize your strengths as a problem solver as well as specifically define the problem being solved. It’s important to know that emotional and physical components are attached to problems and challenges. Pinpoint the emotional and physical aspects of a problem, therefore you are able to be more objective and open your mind to different solutions.

How do I address adversity?

You can address adversity in your life by trying a step-by-step approach.

  1. Start by open-mindedly examining your situation to uncover facts about it that can enable you to redefine it in more advantageous terms.
  2. Then use your creativity (and the creativity of others) to brainstorm.
  3. Finally, choose viable solutions that you can confidently begin putting into action.

Embrace the challenge

Acknowledge that the ‘new’ normal is a reality that all of us collectively live through. Thankfully, there is relief in knowing that overcoming adversity is possible if we approach it using a systematic creative process. Are you willing to consider – and reconsider – how you have defined your situation? Then you will find out that there are actually many ways you can move forward which enable you to thrive rather than just survive.

We’re confident you’ll see a marked improvement in your ability to respond positively to challenges and problem solve more creatively, even if you’re only able to implement one of these tips.

Written by Dana Sendziol, Ph.D. and Tim Basadur, MBA. Dana serves as Director of the DBA Program at Concordia University Wisconsin/Ann Arbor. She is also a certified personal resilience practitioner (PRP) through the Resilience Alliance. Tim serves as the primary researcher and facilitator for Basadur Applied Innovation. 

— Maddie Schueller is the Content Marketing Lead for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. In her free time, she enjoys listening to podcasts, anything music-related, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.

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