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4 Ways to Find Opportunity Within Adversity

The self-help classic 'Think and Grow Rich' came out in 1937, the year unemployment reached 20 percent after the the Great Depression. It offers us some lessons that still resonate today.

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By Jennifer Janechek


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In his self-help classic Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill proclaims, "Never has there been a time more favorable to pioneers than the present." And yet, when Hill wrote these words, America was at the tail-end of the worst economic downturn in history. Think and Grow Rich was published in March 1937, right before the nation experienced a recession while still in the midst of recovery efforts from the Great Depression. To put it in perspective: The unemployment rate in May 1937 was at 14.3 percent and would continue on an upward trajectory to reach 20 percent in 1938. In comparison, the unemployment rate in April 2020 peaked at 14.7 percent and by June has decreased to a still substantial 11.1 percent.

Despite the bleak outlook in the 1930s, Hill was emphatic about the potential for incredible success for those who reframed their perspective on challenges and took consistent action toward achieving their definite chief aim. In fact, in Think and Grow Rich, he goes so far as to claim that "the "depression' was a blessing in disguise" because it "reduced the whole world to a new starting point that gives every one a new opportunity." In other words, it leveled the playing field, clearing the way for entrepreneurs who lacked the resources of the corporate giants to build their businesses. Similarly, we can approach the "new normal" brought on by the global pandemic as an opportunity for entrepreneurs, organizations, and society at large to regroup, reset, and create better pathways to success. The following four strategies will help you locate the opportunities within adversity.

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