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Lessons in Overcoming Adversity with Paralympian Jed Altschwager.  

The corporate world can be a challenging arena, filled with unexpected setbacks, high-pressure situations, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. In these moments, resilience – the ability to bounce back from adversity – becomes a critical leadership trait. But what does resilience truly look like, and how can we cultivate it? Let's turn to an inspiring story from the world of sports for answers. 

 

Meet Jed Altschwager

Jed Altschwager is not your average athlete. A world champion in rowing, Jed is currently training for the Paris Paralympics. His journey to the top is remarkable, not just for his athletic achievements, but for the extraordinary resilience he demonstrated after losing his leg in a workplace accident in 2015. As Jed recounts in a candid conversation on the Huddle Leadership Podcast, this life-altering event forced him to confront profound questions about his identity, purpose, and the path he wanted to take in life. 

 

Choosing Growth Over Despair

In the face of immense physical and emotional pain, Jed made a conscious choice to focus on growth, acceptance, forgiveness, and gratitude. "It was in those tests," he shares, "that I was able to apply who I believed I was into my journey." This conscious choice to focus on the positive, even in the darkest of times, is at the heart of Jed's resilience. 

 

The Resilience Toolkit 

So, what can we, as leaders and managers, learn from Jed's story? How can we apply his resilience toolkit to navigate the challenges of the corporate world? 

  1. Embrace a Growth Mindset: View setbacks as opportunities for learning and development. As Carol Dweck, the renowned Stanford psychologist, emphasises, a growth mindset is essential for overcoming challenges and achieving success. 

  1. Practice Acceptance and Forgiveness: Letting go of blame and resentment frees up valuable mental and emotional energy that can be channelled into positive action. As Jed puts it, forgiveness is not about condoning the actions of others, but about taking back your power and moving forward. 

  1. Cultivate Gratitude: Research has shown that gratitude can significantly improve mental health, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. Take time each day to reflect on the positive aspects of your life and work. 

  1. Set Achievable Goals: Break down large, overwhelming tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This approach can help you maintain momentum and avoid feeling discouraged. 

  1. Build Strong Connections: Surround yourself with supportive colleagues, mentors, and friends who can offer encouragement and guidance during difficult times. Research by the American Psychological Association has found that social support is a key factor in resilience. 

 

Resilience in Action 

Jed's story is a powerful reminder that resilience is not about avoiding challenges, but about facing them head-on with a positive attitude and a determination to learn and grow. By incorporating these lessons into your leadership style, you can build a more resilient team, a more positive workplace culture, and a more successful organisation.  

Want to hear more of Jed's inspiring story? Listen to the full Huddle Leadership Podcast with Kate and Jed for more insights on resilience, forgiveness, and gratitude. 

 


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