5 Ways To Overcome Adversity – And Rise Like A Phoenix

Bernadette McClelland is part of Sales Masterminds Australasia and it's been my privilege to get to know her. She's overcome setbacks with health, sexism and in business, both personal and professional. I asked her for some advice on how to overcome adversity and here is her wisdom.

Bernadette responded instantly with: "There are a couple of things I learned along the way: A problem shared is a problem halved, and there really is light at the end of the tunnel. I said , "I thought that was usually a train coming the other way." She just smiled.

I now this is an important topic because sales and leadership is filled with difficulties and life always throws us a curve-ball. I asked her why she feels passionate about being resilient. Here is her response.

  • Three people I know in senior roles both on a local scale and a global scale were made redundant last week alone and they're hurting.
  • Forty-four small businesses per week close their doors every day in the state of Victoria, Australia and I understand that pain.
  • The role of a salesperson is one of the top 10 jobs that show an increase in depression caused by stress for failing to meet budget and uncertainty about commissions. For men, this is impacting their identity and their ability to be the responsible provider and protector of families and I actually see it in my clients.

So what do you do to bridge that chasm when the gap becomes too wide? How do you overcome real adversity and how do you reinvent yourself when what you know and are comfortable with is no longer in your control?

A back-story here to provide context. I was a successful saleswoman in corporate Australia and decided to take a break and 'do my own thing' based on passion and a desire to help salespeople become more successful. I was still stuck in a corporate way of thinking and it didn't work as well as I had wanted. No biggie. It allowed me to purchase a retail shop in country Victoria instead which was super successful and we ended up buying out one of our national wholesalers and began to import our own designer products which also was a great business. Six years of success.

Then, left of field, an accident, a life defining illness, twelve months bedridden, liquidation, bankruptcy, a betrayal on the job front for my husband and before we knew it we found ourselves on Centrelink [welfare]. We were homeless as we had just lost our two properties and we were flat broke with no money – only 4 years ago! On one hand, it was enough for my husband to think thoughts no one wants to think and on the other hand it allowed me to revisit what I really wanted to do if I got well.

Re-inventing myself meant getting clear on a dream no matter how big. As I lay there I decided I would do what I should never have walked away from but I'd add a little bit more color and juice and lead from the front 'to be Australia's leading female expert in sales' whatever that meant! But the words didn't really matter. What was important was it led me down a path.

And the path it led me to included people I love and respect and have as colleagues, friends and business acquaintances all around the world - people like Tony Robbins and his team of life changers who invited me in as the APAC coach for his business and executive clients, Matt Church and the team of thought leaders who helped launch my ability to capture, package and sell my thoughts, Jill Konrath and the team of women sales professionals who provide me unlimited support as a female minority in the sales space, you (Tony Hughes) and John Smibert and the Australasian team of sales master minders who invited me in to be one of the women leading change in the profession of selling.

So, here I am today doing, a second chance, doing what I love which is working with awesome clients to help them grow their businesses yes, but more importantly helping them bridge the gap between their goals in business and life and their potential to step into their day to day leadership roles. Business people just like me who relish working with someone to call them on their stuff, brainstorm with them on ways to achieve those results that matter the most and most importantly be OK with who they are.

With my husband stepping into a different identity and now in a national sales management role and me standing for a more real and authentic way of selling on a global change making scale, how did we overcome adversity and reinvent ourselves? Five key things:

  1. We asked ourselves some pretty tough questions - who were we at our core, what value did we bring to not just our table, but any table, who were we going to hang around and have as part of our lives and who were we going to distance ourselves from - friends and family?
  2. We reframed our situation - instead of viewing what had happened as having lost everything, we decided that for the first time in our lives we were debt free, we were, and are young for our age and we backed ourselves and our value. What an awesome baseline to start from
  3. We spent every last cent, on investing in our growth - if we were the ones who created the problem, and in fact were big enough to take 100% responsibility, then how could we be the ones to fix the problem to move us forward. We couldn't! We needed fresh perspectives, new voices and new ways of thinking.
  4. We looked forward with an intention to serve other people and contribute to their growth, not just because it boosts the feel good factor, because there is nothing like waking up in the morning to a day that has purpose , that helps others and creates an upward spiral. When you look backwards and focus only on yourself then the spiral will, by default, take you down.
  5. We held the faith and I don't mean religious beliefs but a firm belief that 'it is written'. We redefined success and were willing to play the long game based on the right rules, the right people and the right values, so that everyone's scorecard is a win.

Times are tough, results don't come as easily, marriages break down more, people stress out, houses get repossessed, businesses go bust and people die. But winter passes and by being the real deal, by being vulnerable and open, you can become whoever you want and create those results that matter the most.

Bernadette McClelland is a sales leadership consultant, an executive coach and an international speaker who works with executives and companies in growth mode looking to jump-start results by quickly bridging their corporate goals with revenue potential. She is passionate about raising the bar for leadership, and B2B sales, to be more 'real' and transparent.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.

Main image photo by: Bernadette McClelland