Don't Let Adversity Keep You Down. Here's What Every 'Comeback Kid' Knows.
You may have heard of Marvel. The name responsible for blockbuster hits such as The Avengers, Iron Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
It is one of pop culture’s most iconic brands, but this wasn’t always the case.
Let’s travel back to the mid-1990s. Almost 20 years ago, amidst a struggling comic book market, and after taking some financial risks that just didn’t pan out, Marvel was in trouble, and its leadership knew it. Unable to dig itself out of a financial hole, the company declared bankruptcy, and made the difficult decision to sell off the movie rights to some of its biggest characters. Spider-Man, X-Men and the Fantastic Four all went. It seemed the company was destined to die.
But despite the huge setback, something happened that would set Marvel on track for unprecedented success. With the loss of iconic characters, it had to go with what it had. Instead of comics, Marvel would focus on movies instead. And it would rely on lesser-known characters to make the films a success. Marvel adjusted its strategy and assembled its team: Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk -- and armed with a different approach, it started a comeback.
The plan proved to be a success. Marvel returned better and stronger than ever. In fact, its newest movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron had, until recently, secured a place in the record books as the second-highest domestic opening of all time.
It’s a superhero success story, and one that’s just as exciting as any that Marvel’s team could have written.
None of us are without setbacks, and we’ve all faced our share of problems.
I believe that what separates the success stories from everything else is how we view failure. More specifically, it’s how we respond after we’re knocked down. This is the case with almost every comeback story.
If you’re facing a setback, or working on picking your way up off the ground, here’s how you can kick some villain butt and make the most of adversity -- even using it to further your success.
Don’t let adversity destroy or define you.
Adversity may knock you to the ground. But guess what? You’re still here. It didn’t destroy you. Now, don’t let it define you. Too often, owners of failed businesses will spend years lamenting the loss of their companies. Instead, realize that one failed business venture doesn’t signify defeat, and that there are still plenty of new opportunities to be had. Recognize that most successful business ventures only came about after trial and error.
Read biographies on business moguls: Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Richard Branson, and you'll soon discover that they failed multiple times on their way to the top. While failure isn't always a prerequisite for success, quite often, it is.
Rally your support group.
No one can go it alone. Start building your team of supporters of friends, family and business associates. These are people who have your back, the ones that you can depend upon for sound advice and support. You’re going to need them, so start assembling your dream team.
You’ll also want to hire the people you need to make things happen, so don’t skimp on talent. When Marvel made the decision to hire renowned writer-director Joss Whedon, the move wouldn’t have been cheap, but it was one that undoubtedly contributed to the success of its movies.
Never give in to negativity.
Negativity comes in all forms, but the worst perpetrator of negativity may surprise you: it’s you. Negative thoughts can find their way in and take over, like a bad music track that just won’t end. It can play de-motivational messages on repeat: “You can’t do it. You’re not smart/successful/financially savvy enough.”
It’s easy to listen to these thoughts without realizing it, and before you know it, a year has gone by and you haven’t moved forward because you’re still paralyzed by fear and doubt. Combat these self-defeating thoughts by being aware of them, and refusing to buy into their abuse.
View setbacks as opportunities.
Setbacks are often opportunities. But they’re not fully-fledged opportunities in a box, they’re just the raw materials, the makings of success, if you will. It will require some hard work to transform them into something, and it’s up to you to do the work. Start by reevaluating your goals, and then develop a solid plan to reach them.
Focus on solving the problem.
Instead of focusing on the problem, focus on your solution. This simple shift in mindset can do wonders to inspire you on towards success.
Your ability to solve problems will determine your potential for success. Are you a natural-born problem-solver? If not, that’s OK too. Just work to develop this skill. When you view problems as formidable foes, negativity will cloud your vision, and block out potential solutions. But viewing problems for what they are can help you hone your problem-solving skills.
None of us want to face setbacks. But it’s important to remember that they’re not always what they seem. Sometimes a failing comic book business can make a heroic comeback. Out of an unsuccessful business venture, a new opportunity can arise. Getting laid off could be the catalyst that enables you to start your own business.
The point is, whether it is financial or business success, it all starts by taking control of “your” story. It’s being written right now, with or without your help. The ending is entirely up to you. New beginnings are also up to you. It’s hard to see it, but your story isn’t over yet. There’s nothing stopping you from writing the rest of it in a way that’s positive and successful.
Reevaluate the situation and take a good look at your obstacles, then direct your attention to creating the solution. A new road will open for you, but you have to be ready for it: it may be in a different direction than you originally thought.
Which roadblocks have you faced? Have you ever staged a comeback? Share your superhero story in the comments section below.
Brenton Hayden is the founder and chairman of the board of Renters Warehouse. A Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Business graduate, Hayden leads a team of over 140 employees and franchises in 21 states with a portfolio of managed properties valued at just under $1 billion.