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-    A crisis or adversity can be an opportunity for professional growth.
-    Failure can be an opportunity to deal with negative feelings.
-    Knowing your value to your company can help you see the positive in an adverse situation.

How to deal with adversity and failure? Failing is part of life, and usually involves negative feelings that can even lead us to question our self-worth. While it may be tempting to focus on such thoughts and feelings, consider the tips below to self-reflect, learn, and move forward. This list is mainly based on the ACC Webcast “What Does Not Sink You Makes You Smarter: The Lawyer Thriving Professionally in a Crisis” by Benedikte Leroy, General Counsel of Volvo Trucks, Paul Anderson-Walsh, Co-Founder of The Centre for Inclusive Leadership, and Trevor Faure, CEO of Smarter Law Solutions.

  1. Dealing with a crisis or adverse events will require you to use both logic and emotion
  2. When adversity or a crisis occurs, it can raise questions of how you feel about yourself. 
  3. Having humility helps to mitigate negative feelings that arise from failure.
  4. Understand that personality impacts how people react to a crisis or adversity. In a professional crisis or adversity, it is tempting to look at a failure as meaning we as a person are a failure.
  5. People who are self-conscious tend to view failure as indicative of their personal inadequacy, and decide they are a failure.
  6. People who are confident, less self-conscious often say they failed in a particular situation, but do not view themselves as failures, and they deal with failure through self-reflection.
  7. Crises and failure tend to exacerbate negative thoughts and feelings that are already in the background
  8. Acknowledge your negative thoughts or feelings that may accompany a failure or crisis (such as low self-esteem), but don’t dwell on these.
  9. Look for the lessons learned in adversity. It helps to become more resilient.
  10. Knowing how to process failure is key, and an indicator of success. A good strategy to deal with failure is to keep the will to succeed, come up with a plan that lays out how specifically you will reach your goal, and reach out to others who can help you.
  11. Cultivate people (within or outside the organization) who will help you when a crisis occurs. Identify people you trust, with whom you can safely share, ideally people who care about you beyond what they may need from you.
  12. Knowing your value to the organization can help to protect your self-esteem during a crisis.
  13. Ask yourself what core values and passion motivate you. You can build on these to fuel your will to overcome adversity and to keep progressing.

Learn more in the ACC Webcast: “What Does Not Sink You Makes You Smarter: The Lawyer Thriving Professionally in a Crisis

ReadSeize the Hidden Opportunity of Crisis,” by Jonathan Cullen, ACC Docket, December 2016, pp. 55-61

Read3 Well-being Tips to Stay Centered in a Crisis,” by Merridy Woodroffe, ACC Docket, 24 April 2020, 

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The information in any resource collected in this virtual library should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on specific facts and should not be considered representative of the views of its authors, its sponsors, and/or ACC. These resources are not intended as a definitive statement on the subject addressed. Rather, they are intended to serve as a tool providing practical advice and references for the busy in-house practitioner and other readers.

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