Hello, Adversity Weekly Roundup #11 - April 15, 2023
Remembering a mentor
Happy Saturday everyone! Welcome to the 11th edition of the Hello, Adversity Weekly Roundup.
I have spent a lot of time outside this week. It has been unseasonably warm here in the Northeast, which has allowed me to sneak outside, tilt my chair back, and bask in the sunshine. (Although now I have a sunburn on one arm and half my face because I fell asleep. Oops.)
I’m glad for the nice weather because this has been a bit of a rough week. Late last Friday, I learned that someone who was instrumental in helping me figure out my career path, Eli Wolff, passed away. It brought back a flood of memories from that time in my life, when I was attending business school and struggling to discover my life’s calling. I knew I wanted to merge my business background with my patient experience, but didn’t know how. Eli helped steer me in the right direction.
Once you go down memory lane, it is hard to stop. I have been thinking a lot about my personal journey, retracing the steps that that have led me to where I am today. The journey has been difficult. Gravity has not been kind to my body. But there is much to be grateful for, and I’d rather focus on that.
Without further ado, here are this week’s links:
I was connected to Eli through a coworker in 2014, shortly before leaving my job to attend business school. I had the opportunity to chat with Eli on several occasions, and every time we talked - whether it was about career advice, sports, or disability advocacy - I came away inspired to make a difference in the world.
I don’t know how to properly describe Eli other than to say that he was a force of nature for good. He made an impact in so many different realms - sports, disability rights, advocacy, human-centered design, education, policy. He played soccer for Team USA at the Paralympic Games and helped establish the ESPY awards for Best Male and Female Athlete with a Disability.
I hadn’t spoken to Eli in a few years, a fact I now regret. But I will always remember and appreciate the time he visited me for lunch on campus at Boston College when I was in business school. We were supposed to meet at a restaurant somewhere in Newton so I could pick his brain about potential career tracks, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it after a full morning of classes and back-to-back afternoon meetings. He offered instead to meet me on campus so I wouldn’t have to worry about being late to my afternoon meetings. It was a little gesture, but one I greatly appreciated.
But that’s who Eli was - always looking out for others and generous with his time. If he was able to help someone, he wouldn’t hesitate, even though his own schedule was usually packed with various commitments. It is his selflessness and desire to build a more inclusive world that I will always remember.
This is an insightful article about resilience - what it is, and how to cultivate it. The author, Sue Deagle, describes her journey to resilience after experiencing the loss of her husband. One of the many misconceptions about resilience is that it follows a set formula, but this is not the case. It is an individualistic process and involves trial and error to find coping strategies that help:
[Resilience] happens when we take our healing into our own hands — testing what works and what doesn’t — without getting discouraged and giving up.
We try a coping skill.
We feel like 100%, certified, grade-A crap.
We scrap it and try a different coping skill.
Cultivating resilience is not a linear process. But it is worth the effort to find useful coping strategies, because adversity is always lurking right around the corner.
Not too long ago, a vacation was an opportunity to unplug from work, lower one’s blood pressure, and live a life of leisure for a few days.
Smartphones ruined that.
I’m not saying we all need to throw our phones into the ocean when we go on vacation, but it is worth pausing to ask whether we’re accidentally ruining our time away a little bit because we just can’t quit the portable internet device we carry around with us 24/7.
What was once peaceful time off has now become a stress-induced vortex of social media doomscrolling, posting a live play-by-play of that guy at the next table smashing a lobster shell with a rock, and - and I shudder to think of it - answering work email. I once had a coworker who answered an email while hiking the Grand Canyon and I never looked at him the same way again.
If you are interested in the “why?” behind this self-defeating behavior, this article does a good job of diving into the psychology of this recent phenomenon.
My two cents: it is so important to fully unplug on vacation. It is good for your mental health to get away from work responsibilities and the misery of social media. Time off will make you a more productive employee in the long run, and besides, the problems of the world aren’t going anywhere.
Before you think I am a prodigious reader, I will let you in on a secret: I read short books. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I do read long books but I haven’t finished any since starting this newsletter.
When I started Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide, I didn’t realize it would be such a quick read. I bought it because I am a fan of John Cleese and Monty Python, and am interested in the topic of creativity. Although it only took about an hour, it was a really enjoyable book.
One of the main takeaways from the book is how we need unstructured time to let our subconscious generate ideas. We must nurture this process and not allow our rational, logical minds to interfere. Daydream. Let your mind wander. Later on you can figure out if your ideas are any good.
Creativity is an important aspect of adversity. I have had to think creatively on many occasions when I’ve faced an obstacle and there was no obvious path forward. In the moments when I have been able to expand my mind and come up with ideas, I have unlocked insights that have served me well.
This very newsletter is one of those creative ideas!
If you have a story you’d like me to include in a future newsletter, please email me at HelloAdversity@substack.com or drop a comment below.
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