Adversity Inspires Innovation
September 14, 2020 In: Sound Bits
In our SoundBit last week, we highlighted how Yo-Yo Ma and a team of community organizers collaborated to produce pop-up concerts for essential workers in Western Massachusetts. This innovative work was a realization of one of the overarching themes from this past summer’s Virtual Visionaries collaboration with the University of Michigan’s Excel Lab. Shortly after publishing our SoundBit, Brent Gleeson, a contributor to Forbes Magazine published an article: 11 Ways to Turn Adversity Into Opportunity. The article rightfully opens by highlighting the different ways in which people might handle extreme adversity—from embracing and innovating to a paralyzation of productivity and depression. To frame the immense challenges our society currently faces simply as an ‘opportunity’ might be viewed as disingenuous. However, developing skillsets and dispositions to chart a path through the adversity seems, at a bare minimum, to be a necessity. Further, if the ‘opportunity’ is one to innovate and create a more just and equitable world, then now is the time to embrace the challenge for the good of others. Mr. Gleeson offers 11 tips for for transforming adversity into opportunity:
- Embrace It
- Practice self-compassion
- Master your emotions
- Make humor your ally
- Engage in wellness activities
- Purge the clutter
- Be grateful
- Develop a growth mindset
- Cling to your purpose
- Maintain confidence in your capabilities
- Reflect and move on
These tips, which are detailed in his article, provide a guiding light as we navigate uncertain times. As I reflect on my own work during the last six months, I offer a 3 more ways to innovate in times of adversity:
- Build a Coalition: The loss of in-person work has highlighted how technology can bring us together and that our current arts ecosystem is ripe for collaboration. While Zoom fatigue is real, distance is no longer a factor to meaningful collaborative work. Building a team not only diversifies skillsets and increases productivity, it creates a support system for each other.
- Trust your expertise and experience: During the last six months, we have all been thrust into the unknown. I share openly that I have never felt as vulnerable as an educator as I did during the first two-days of the virtual summer festival I directed. It is easy for discomfort to paralyze productivity. Embrace and trust both your expertise and your experience.
- Be Decisive: In times of great adversity and uncertainty, decision making can be particularly challenging. I have found that developing a process or plan, and sticking to it is key. Given the current landscape, this plan must have built in contingencies and triggers, but taking the time to chart a course and being committed to that course can spark clarity and creativity in one’s work.
Read all of Brent Gleeson’s article here: