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Embracing change: why tough situations build character

How to manage stress at work

Make or break; sink or swim; flourish or fizzle. Use whatever saying you like - there’s no denying that tough situations build character.

Over the course of our careers, we’ll all face our fair share of challenges, from dealing with difficult people, to learning new sets of skills, to receiving recognition for our work. And while these trying circumstances can test us to our very core, they also force us to reflect on our approach, redefine our direction and, most importantly, to learn.

If you’re currently in a tough spot and your spirits are starting to fizzle rather than flourish, here are three reasons why sticking it out will make you better at your job:


It builds perseverance.

“Find your dream job and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” – it was our high school teacher’s mantra, and while this saying has an element of truth to it, it’s not always entirely applicable.

There will be times in your career where everything goes swimmingly. You have strong relationships with your colleagues, you know exactly what you’re doing and where your career is headed, and you feel like you’re making a real difference.

Other times it won’t be as easy. You’ll feel exhausted, underappreciated, or maybe just plain bored.

But stick it out anyway!

Because, in these tricky circumstances, you have the opportunity to pick up new skills and approaches, and to learn from your mistakes.


…and a little perspective.

When you hear your friends or family reminiscing about the bad jobs they’ve had in the past – very few of these stories would have ended with “and then I threw it all in and gave up!”

That’s because they recognised the learning opportunity and stuck it out until they were truly ready to leave.

At the very least, you’ll be able to distinguish a good situation from a bad one. So, in the future, when your colleagues are complaining about the annual company conference being moved to Spain instead of last year’s Bali, you’ll have a little more perspective to stop you joining in with them.


You get to know what you really want.

Here’s another clichéd saying for you: “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

When you’re pushed to your limits, you often realise how much you still have to learn – and when you’re learning, you’re also growing.

But during these tough situations, you’ll probably start to question why you chose your current job, industry, or career path in the first place. And while this process can be painful, it also forces you to focus on what it is you really want.

What motivates you? Where do you want your career to go? And what skills, experiences and attitudes do you need to adopt in order to get there? By answering these questions, you’ll gain a better understanding of your own personal purpose, which in turn will be your guiding star throughout your current job and over the course of your career.

So, while tough situations are by no means pleasant, they will provide you with highly sought-after skills and characteristics that will stick with you for a lifetime.

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