strength through adversity

Research Team Q&A: Challenges and Opportunities in Rough Markets

Clients, what do we do when things get so churned up in the markets? We go bargain hunting, of course! In this special message, the team talks bargains, the long view, and keeping the faith through a downturn. Reach out with questions, anytime.

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Glitch Your Heart Out

graphic shows pixelated squares of colors

A certain mouse-led studio put out a movie a few years back, one in which the main character befriends a spunky racecar driver named Vanellope. Maybe you’ve seen it?

She was the underdog of the arcade, struggling for a chance to compete in the game Sugar Rush. The other racers didn’t want Vanellope “The Glitch” von Schweetz competing. She had a condition that made her pixelate: her whole body would blink and she’d go temporarily blurry. Doesn’t sound fair, huh?

Spoiler alert: Vanellope soon discovers that this bug is actually a feature. Once she gets to know her glitching, she is able to use it to her advantage and glitches herself around obstacles on the track. The others come to respect her condition as just one part of her—a strength, even.

We’ve written before about identifying your own superpowers. Your human capital—those skills, qualities, and desires that can be used in the service of your fellow human beings—is one of your strongest assets. (It’s a fabulous place to start out when you’re starting out.)

But here’s a “life hack” for you: reconsider your weaknesses, too.

Most qualities become liabilities when taken to their extreme, but with some perspective… well, we wonder if those “weaknesses” might be tempered to become strengths. Aren’t the quirks what make us unique? Aren’t they the things that make our point of view so valuable to others?

We don’t mean to suggest that any situation can be reframed this way. If something in our lives is harming our health or wellbeing, it may require more than this to address the heart of the issue.

But no one is alone in this process, either. It’s been a joy for us to get to know where you are on your journeys. For all the twists and turns, the climbs, and the obstacles, what a pleasure to be on the road with you!

Clients, want to talk about this or anything else? Write or call.

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Play the audio version of this post below:


We were running a bit ragged there for a few years. You’ve heard parts of the story before, but when my late wife’s health meant more travel and new challenges, I had to try something different. What had worked before was no longer sufficient.

Once we caught our breath, we found exciting advantages in those new things we tried. We feared digital communication might seem a poor replacement for in-person connections, but they were never in competition. We improved the speed and clarity of our thoughts as they traveled to you, and then our personal conversations became that much deeper. The various channels of communication made wonderful complements for each other.

We might not have made that discovery—or made it in such record time—if not for terrible adversity. The universe gave us a shove, and we tried to ride the momentum forward.

We survived and, as it turns out, thrived.

In a recent company communication, LPL’s Angela Xavier shared that what makes “thrivalists” (we love LPL’s term!) different from the rest.

“We all know that with crisis comes opportunity,” she said, “and those that are going to thrive will definitely take advantage of those opportunities.”

Xavier mentions a few key moves that help thrivalists: practicing flexibility, reimagining the work, and embracing the new things you have access to. Each new environment brings new challenges and new paths.

Become a thrivalist in whatever way makes sense to you. We’ve described it in the past as discovering you’re actually “in the right place at the right time” or with the old chestnut “necessity is the mother of invention.”

And when you struggle? Xavier encourages us to “steal with pride”: what are your mentors, neighbors, and friends doing? How might you adapt, not just to survive—but to thrive?

Clients, we’re excited to help you with any of your plans and planning. Call or write when you’re ready.

Kiln-Fired Personalities

© Can Stock Photo / kosmos111

We all know people who know what they are about. They have clarity about that for which they strive. They focus on the essentials, and are not easily distracted. They understand the bigger picture, and their place in it.

These folks demonstrate considerable strength, firm adherence to their principles, and they usually are of service or value to others. A surprising fact applies to each of them: they all started out as soft little babies.

We have been privileged to know people who fit this description, and to read the biographies of others. The same pattern exists in people in every walk of life. In learning their stories, we often find considerable adversity or seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their past.

We’re reminded of clay, and pottery. Clay is soft and malleable, fine particles that are quite porous. Pottery is durable, impermeable, fused into a single item—not a mix of soft particles.

More than ten thousand years ago, humans were creating pottery from clay on at least four continents. We learned a long time ago that heating a clay vessel in a hot enough kiln for a long enough time transforms it into pottery.

The heat of the kiln changes the properties of soft clay. Particles fuse together. The chemistry changes. What emerges from the kiln is fully formed, durable and useful.

Perhaps adversity is a kiln that produces change within us.

We would never suggest that problems or misery are good. One cannot know the depths of heartache or pain that another is forced to bear. The point is, much of what happens, happens. It is beyond our control.

We may be able to influence our own reaction, how we choose to spend our energy and our minutes in the face of adversity. Just as we cannot know what others must bear, we are not qualified to judge how others respond. But for each of us, with our own challenges, there may be some choice.

Please call or write if you would like perspective or help on your own situation or circumstances.