We’ve all seen a pendulum as it hangs from the bottom of a clock and swings back and forth. First it goes in one direction, than it goes back in the opposite direction. The back and forth continues forever … its motion moves the hands of the clock forward.
For all of you physics junkies, here is the scientific explanation of Pendulum:
A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. When the pendulum is displaced from its resting equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position. When released, the restoring force combined with the pendulum’s mass causes it to oscillate about the equilibrium position, swinging back and forth.
A few weeks ago while preparing for a presentation, it suddenly occurred to me that 2 of the 7 principles of Gumption are exactly like a pendulum … adversity and opportunity. They are a counterbalance to each other. Whenever one occurs, the other always seems to appear shortly thereafter … just like clockwork … just like a pendulum.
The word pendulum is derived from the Latin pendulus meaning hanging.
That is interesting because life seems to hang smack dab in the middle of a continuous series of opportunities and adversities … and it’s that back and forth progression of opportunities and adversities that move us closer to our goals. And more importantly, the oscillations develop our character as human beings.
Whenever an opportunity comes into your life, you can rest assured that adversity will follow. There will be challenges. There will be setbacks. What initially seems fortuitous oftentimes reveals itself as difficult and rife with struggles. We sometimes label these challenges as bad.
Likewise, whenever a great challenge, setback or an unforeseen adversity suddenly pops into your life … an unexpected opportunity will reveal itself as a direct consequence of that misfortune. And it’s often construed as good.
Here are 4 Strategies for Getting the Pendulum to Swing Your Way with Opportunities and Adversities:
The first step in dealing with the back-n-forthness of opportunities and adversities is to recognize the correlation between them. While I can’t provide scientific proof or show an absolute link between the two, I’ll simply appeal to common sense and your own experiences for the evidence.
Think about the last great opportunity that came into your life. Maybe a new big account? Or possibly a job offer? What happened next? There was difficult work involved in learning how to manage the new account. And the job dumped new dilemmas right in your lap. To fully take advantage of the opportunity, to make the big account a happy customer, and to excel in your new position you had to overcome the corresponding difficulties. It was simply hard work!
Now remember the last time you experienced a major bummer. Maybe you crashed your car? Or your significant other broke up with you? Or your computer contracted a virus … Yuck! Sticking with the computer example, what happened next? You updated your computer.s hard drive, you set in place a system to actually back up your data on a regular basis, or maybe you even upgraded the computer altogether? Something that was initially very unpleasant lead to a more efficient system, prompted you to do what you’ve been putting off for a long time, and created a much better tomorrow. I acknowledge the hardship and heartache the experience imposed upon you at the time … but a real benefit did come directly from the bummer.
Can you see the correlation between opportunities and adversities
Next you need to simply accept that with all opportunities will come challenges. And with all adversities will come benefits … new opportunities. If you adopt this mindset, then the self-fulfilling prophecy of expectations will naturally follow.
Robert K. Merton’s book Social Theory and Social Structure first introduced the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy. The self-fulfilling prophecy stems from the Thomas theorem which states, “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.”
So if we accept (and believe) that opportunities will bring adversity and that adversity will produce opportunities, then the resulting consequences of those beliefs will make it real. Or more simply, if we accept it as true … it will be true.
Are you willing to accept the reciprocal relationship between opportunities and adversity?
If we accept that opportunities breed adversities and adversities give birth to opportunities, it’s now possible to plan accordingly.
- We can expect them.
- We can anticipate them.
- We can plan for their arrival.
- We can get excited when they arrive (the opportunities).
- We can avoid being disappointed when they arrive (the adversities).
- We can predict their impact.
We can strategize our reaction to their occurrence.
The result of planning will be a more balanced approach to opportunities and adversities. The roller coaster of life will be flattened out a bit. Life will still go up and down, but the ride to the top will be less tense and the drop to the bottom a lot less hair-raising.
Would you give up the thrill of the extreme ride for a more sane life?
4. Eliminate Good & Bad as Describers of Events
Finally, consider eliminating the use of the words good and bad to describe the events of our life. Good and bad derive from notions of morality. Simple events occurring before us have no moral relevance … they just are. Let’s instead call these events exactly what they are … simple events.
The computer crashing isn’t bad, it’s just the computer crashing. Yes, it’s annoying and time consuming, but it’s neither good nor bad … it just is.
The new client or job opportunity is a great chance for you to excel and show your stuff, but its neither good nor bad … it just is.
Labeling things as good and bad has a tendency to distract from the mission. It promotes behaviors that feed inaction (judging) and starve action (doing).
Are you willing to give up labeling events as good or bad? Are you willing to simply call occurrences what they are without applying a moral meaning to them?
I believe adversity and opportunity are related in a manner just like the pendulum swings back and forth. The common denominator of opportunities and adversities is the pivot point. You are the pivot point.
The opportunity’s greatness or an adversity’s magnitude influences their momentum and speed. The secret would seem to be in your ability to let them both swing freely … back and forth … and without resistance.
Are you allowing the pendulum between opportunity and adversity to swing freely? Are you resisting that which is inevitable?
Next Blog Title: ‘Twas the Gump Before Christmas
Next Blog Date: December 20, 2010