From Adversity Comes Innovation

Have you ever overcome adversity and then promised yourself you would do whatever it takes not to repeat the same unpleasantness?  Whenever you keep that promise, you typically rid yourself of a long-standing bad habit or challenge yourself to grow in ways you once thought were impossible.  Adversity is often the spark that propels us to the next level, whether it’s personally or professionally.

I like to guide dentists and teams to view adversity as a teaching moment.  When people can put aside blame and extract the key points that led to the difficulty, they often define a roadmap for how to make the dental practice and team even stronger.  Adversity is often the spark of tremendous innovation.

This reminds me of a story I once read about Edward Rickenbacker, who was a fighter pilot in World War II.  Rickenbacker’s plane went down in the Pacific, and he and his crew were declared dead.  Then 3 ½ weeks after crashing, Rickenbacker and most of his crew were found alive despite severe dehydration and starvation.  They survived in a life raft without supplies or a way to radio for help.

As you might imagine, Rickenbacker never forgot the tremendous adversity he and his crew endured.  He helped the Air Force design new life rafts equipped with radios and emergency supplies, and those life rafts became known as “Rickenbackers.”  In addition, he inspired scientists to develop pills for desalinating drinkable quantities of salt water, which also had applications reaching beyond someone stranded at sea.

Edward Rickenbacker emerged from adversity determined to help others.  And there is nothing preventing us from sharing the same outlook.  When you encounter a challenge, consider replacing negative thoughts and blame with determination.  And use that determination to make your practice, your team, and your life even better.

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