Eight fundamental competencies required to overcome adversity

Illustration representing personal growth, resilience, and professional development in navigating uncertain times.

In 1961, during the “Space Race,” NASA acquired the IBM 7090 mainframe, a groundbreaking computing system that revolutionized data processing. This innovation profoundly impacted human computers and mathematicians who performed complex calculations. One remarkable individual, Dorothy Vaughan, stood out as a human-computer supervisor for a team of African-American women. She not only adapted to the advancements but also troubleshoot the IBM 7090 mainframe when even IBM engineers struggled. Dorothy’s achievements led to her promotion as the supervisor of the Programming Department, with her team following her leadership.

Change is an inevitable part of life, and the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a significant disruptor, affecting millions worldwide. It has caused disruptions in social patterns, systems, and livelihoods. As we navigate through such uncertain times, developing specific competencies to persevere and thrive effectively becomes essential.

Throughout my observations, research, and professional experience, I have identified several invaluable competencies to navigate and overcome adversity successfully. These competencies are essential not only during the pandemic but also in various challenging situations:

Self-awareness is not a one-time achievement but an ongoing journey of self-discovery and growth.

1. Stress tolerance

Stress tolerance is the ability to remain calm, focused, and positive despite facing adverse circumstances and emotional challenges. For example, a leader who can maintain composure and make clear decisions during a crisis inspires confidence and helps guide their team through uncertainty.

2. Impulse control

Impulse control is the psychological ability to manage urges for immediate gratification, allowing for better adaptability, relationship development, and future planning. An individual with strong impulse control may resist the temptation to engage in impulsive spending during financial hardships, enabling them to maintain financial stability and make strategic decisions.

3. Reality testing

Reality testing involves seeing and assessing situations objectively, acknowledging the actual circumstances rather than our subjective desires or perceptions. For instance, a business owner who objectively assesses market trends and customer needs can adapt their offerings and strategies accordingly, increasing their chances of success.

4. Emotional self-awareness

Emotional self-awareness is the capacity to skillfully identify and align our emotions, enabling better adaptability, self-control, and understanding of their impact on others. A leader with high emotional self-awareness can effectively manage their emotions during stressful times and empathize with the feelings of their team members, fostering a supportive work environment.

5. Self-actualization

Self-actualization involves continuously improving oneself, pursuing personal growth, and working towards fulfilling one’s life purpose, reaching the pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. For example, an individual who actively seeks opportunities for personal and professional development sets challenging goals and strives to reach their full potential exhibits self-actualization.

6. Grit

Grit embodies the mental drive, courage, passion, perseverance, and strength during extreme adversity, displaying unwavering determination to achieve objectives. An athlete who consistently pushes through physical and mental barriers maintains focus, and continues training despite setbacks exemplifies grit.

7. Perseverance

Perseverance is the ability and determination to continue pursuing goals despite challenging circumstances, demonstrating consistent steadfastness. A student who faces academic challenges but remains committed to their education seeks support when needed and persistently works towards their educational goals, showcasing perseverance.

8. Resilience

Resilience refers to the mental and emotional strength to cope with crises and bounce back to pre-crisis psychological states, bolstered by a surplus of positivity. For instance, an entrepreneur who experiences a business failure but learns from the experience adapts their strategy, and approaches the next venture with renewed determination demonstrates resilience.

Incorporating these fundamental competencies empowers individuals to navigate uncertain times

Makes the invisible visible.