Overcoming Adversity

Adversity is inevitable when you’re running business. It either energizes you and fuels you to push through it. Or it drains you and wrecks your world.

This past Saturday, I had chartered a boat for a day sail with some members of LadyDrinks Toronto. It was to be a four hour outing aboard The Cerulean on Lake Eerie with our spouses. Deposits were put down in February. The captain and boat hired. As July started to draw closer, I kept tabs on the weather daily. The forecast on my IPhone app went from a bright shiny sun to an angry cloud with a thunderbolt piercing through it. Shoot, we had been having such bad luck with flights lately. Now this. I wrote the captain.

“What do we do in the event of rain? Do we go out on Sunday instead?”

“The localized weather forecasts are notoriously wrong,” he replied. “The weather looks great for Saturday actually!” he cheered.

That morning, we rose to a bright sun. At St. Lawrence’s market, light flecked off the shiny scales of flounder fish. The Limberger cheese smelled pungent and strong. The weather was promising. We stuffed our bags with freshly bought watermelon and nectarines and boarded The Cerulean. The rose and chardonnay began flowing freely. I slathered on more sunscreen as the warm sun warmed my brown shoulders. Skewers of burrata cheese and cherry tomatoes were passed around. Matt connected his IPhone and music blared from the boat speakers.

Perennially the event planner, I’m always scanning. Looking. Anticipating. An hour into the sail, I could see the angry grey and blue clouds collecting in the distance. They were ominous as they began to collect over Toronto city. “That looks like rain over there,” I said, with a twinge of worry in my voice. Our captain scoffed.

“Toronto is like a bowl. The weather pattern will go right around us.” Brigette Bardot continued to croon her cheeky song in French through the speakers.

The clouds grew dark. A heavy pelting rain started. A swift wind kicked up. My two girlfriends scuttled below deck. Matt and the guys ferociously worked to bring down the one sail we were using for the day. With the sail even half up, our boat was at the mercy of the wind. “F^&*! F^*(! F&*(! our captain kept saying. “I’ve never had this happen on a charter before.” So much for the weather going around us. The rain was right now seeping through all our clothes. I stayed on deck, zipping my nylon Patagonia raincoat all the way up, creating a teflon barrier around me.

The Cerulean was heeling to the left in the water. Visibility was maybe 300 yards. The pretty boats around us were nowhere to be seen in the fog and haze. “The ocean is angry!” yelled Matt, rain trailing down his military haircut and down his face as he wrestled with the sail. There was no point in fighting mother Nature. It was her show that day. Not mine. We all worked together to turn on the navigation lights in the front. Soaked up the water leaking below deck with towels. We turned on all the controls the captain needed. We cut the engine and waited until the weather system past.

It was a good reminder about dealing with adversity:

1. I asked myself “What’s the worst that could happen?” Well, it did happen. The rain ruined our sail. I had been planning this since February. But, it turned out, the whole group was excited by the unexpected adventure and embraced all the action instead.

2. What could I have done differently? Well I could have asked the Captain to go out earlier in the day, versus a 1pm launch. I knew the weather pattern. Note for next time. Trust, but always verify.

3. What was in my control? Nothing. We remained calm as a group until the weather system passed. As quickly as the clouds came in, they swept away, leaving the sun to dry everything. All we could do was listen to feedback from the captain, and toggle accordingly while the storm was upon us.

4. What’s the story I tell myself? Well I could have pouted that the rain ruined my beautifully planned day.

But the negativity does nobody any good. We focused on the positive. The rain drove away the crowds from the Yacht Club and we got a table for 6, lickety split! We had been trying to get a reservation there all week.

The entrepreneurial lifestyle was never meant for anyone who couldn’t deal with risk or adversity. How we handle challenges, our responses, is what really matters. It determines our ultimate happiness.

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