Embracing Adversity: Igniting Greatness Within

In a world filled with uncertainties and challenges, on 11 July 2023, the virtual chapter of Professional Speaker’s Association of South Africa hosted an enlightening event centered around overcoming and dealing with adversity in business and life. The speakers shared their powerful life lessons and experiences, reminding us that adversity is not to be feared but rather embraced as an opportunity for growth. Each speaker’s unique journey provided invaluable insights, and in this blog post, I will delve into their wisdom and discover how facing adversity can ignite greatness within all of us.

Learning to Overcome Adversity Through Forgiveness:

Terry Winship’s heartfelt keynote touched our souls as she shared her personal struggle with grief and anger after her sister’s passing. Through her transformative journey, Terry learned the power of forgiveness. She realized that to move forward, she had to turn inwards and release the anger she held onto. Her profound lesson reminded us that adversity is inevitable, but by looking towards the future and embracing forgiveness, we can find healing and fulfilment.

Finding Opportunity in Adversity:

Bill Brander’s story revealed the enduring impact of early-stage fright, but he never let it define him. During his career he enjoyed being involved in employee development and this enabled him to take control of the trauma created from his stage fright. After joining the virtual chapter of PSASA, he continued to face his fears and discover a love for speaking. His message was clear: in the face of adversity, there is always an opportunity for growth and development. Sometimes, the challenges that haunt us for years can ultimately lead us to unexpected success.

Breathing Through Stress and Adversity:

Tim Wagner reminded us of the simple yet powerful act of conscious breathing. He educated us about how in moments of stress and adversity, our breath can become shallow, exacerbating the negative impact of stress on our bodies. Tim emphasized the importance of learning to breathe properly to nourish ourselves and reduce the impact of stress. Through this, we can live better and face adversity with a clearer mind.

Embracing the Black Sheep Approach:

Zani Barish’s inspiring journey showcased the black sheep approach – an attitude of innovation and resilience when facing career challenges. Instead of succumbing to unemployment, Zani embraced her unique qualities and started her own business. She encouraged us to cultivate a growth mindset, seek support, and refuse to conform to societal norms. By adopting this approach, we can overcome adversity and achieve remarkable success.

Problem-Solving with the Elephant Herd’s Example:

Steve Johnson shared a fascinating analogy of the elephant herd’s problem-solving process. By collecting data, exchanging information, analyzing, consolidating, communicating, and delivering solutions, we can navigate through adversity in our organizations. Steve’s insightful approach showed us how to find solutions to our problems by following a structured and collaborative path.

Are We Deal Ready? Strategies for Growth:

Johanita Thwaits challenged us to reflect on our value and readiness for adversity. By embracing three growth strategies – SOW (growth mindset, planning, and preparation), GROW (adaptability and resilience), and KNOW (building and maintaining relationships, innovating creatively) – we can confidently face any challenges and stand out in the market.

The virtual chapter of Professional Speaker’s Association of South Africa delivered a powerful message: adversity is not to be feared but embraced as an opportunity to ignite greatness within us. Each speaker shared their unique experiences and life lessons, proving that challenges mold us into the people we are meant to become. By facing adversity head-on, turning towards the future, and fostering a fearless attitude, we can overcome any obstacle that comes our way and emerge stronger, wiser, and more fulfilled.

So let us remember, when confronted with adversity, instead of asking, “Why me?” let’s shift our perspective to, “What is this experience looking to develop within me?” For in that question lies the key to unlocking the greatness within us all.


Written by: Elin Agodi