Blood Donation Drive Know More
January 01, 2022
By Mr. Deepak Kotak
6 Min Read
Performance in Adversity

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and how! Sounds clichéd, and yet there is an ongoing stream of examples for shining human endeavours and achievements, where people have achieved the impossible, against all odds. What is it that brings the best out of a person, under what seems like the worst conditions and circumstances? Just when you think all is lost, this cannot happen, it just cannot be done – someone goes and proves you wrong – and you are left with a dropped jaw and an “I can’t believe this!” shocked state.

Being able to achieve, and achieve spectacularly, is difficult enough. To do so, under pressure, in times of adversity – is what winners do. So, let us explore this a little further… Is it inborn? Or can you learn it?

First let us look at what performance is all about. Performance involves moving towards one’s objectives consistently. You do this, and do it well, by first having absolute clarity on the said objectives, then leveraging on your strengths and resources to accelerate, and mitigating your weaknesses to ease off on the brakes. Add to this planning and optimal use of resources and you have a framework that not only enhances your chances for success but also paves the way for consistency. Success is very closely related to performance, in fact, it is an outcome of it.

What about tough times? What are the frames and filters we apply specific to us when faced with adversity? Do we perceive these as problems and challenges that loom large over us, that have the potential to defeat us? Or as opportunities that hold the potential for growth? The way we look at or perceive the situation, the circumstances and ourselves in that moment define our success. Because the way we perceive something – will start a whole chain reaction – from the thought to the emotion attached to that thought, to the behaviour, the action that stems from that emotion. This makes it crucially important to get it right in our minds. When we have succeeded in our heads, the chances that we will succeed in reality are greatly enhanced (Because ‘as you think, so you are’). You have probably heard that, every crisis or disaster hides an opportunity within, only when we develop frames and filters to see it and then seize it.

When life throws lemons at us, make lemonade, does not happen with the first lemon. One needs to consciously and consistently make it a habit to see the lemonade in the lemon and the squeeze it out of lemon. Thus, building one’s self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her ability to execute behav-iours necessary to produce specific performance attainments (Albert Bandura). Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behaviour and social environment.

One of the challenges is that we allow a part – ‘the problem’ to take centre stage and overwhelm the whole. To counter this, we need to bring the right frame and attention to the part. I like to call this the Magic of Control, which may have its roots in the Serenity Prayer, a fantastic way to bring equilibrium back into your life. The prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” proves to be a lifesaver indeed!

Magic of Control is a simple exercise (most effective when done with pen and paper) where we:

• First, define the situation, problem or challenge and wherever possible, state the desired or preferred outcome. (At the top of the page)

• Second, we bring ourselves to list out everything that is in our control to act upon despite the situation. We add the action/s that can be taken against each point. (left column)

• Next, we list out everything that is not within our control to act upon in that situation (right column) and then add actions we can take to either negate or mitigate its effects. (Thereby, adding to our list in the left column of the things within our control to action).

• Finally, as we continue to act on what is within our control towards our desired outcome, leveraging on our strengths and resources, we now, with much reduced overwhelm, bring ourselves to accept the residual aspects that remain genuinely beyond our control.

I have found that the more things you can find that are within your control to act upon, the faster you can restore your balance, bring renewed energy and a productive attitude to thrive in the situation.

To summarise, if I may call it Coach Kotak’s approach to performing in adversity,

1. Reflect on your objectives – what is it that you really want as an outcome and how is that important for you?

2. Reframe the situation – develop multiple perspectives to the situation that allows you to unearth the disguised opportunity.

3. Connect to your resourcefulness – literally list out all your strengths, resources, achievements, – everything you believe you have been and can be awesome at.

4. Execute the Magic of Control – bring your attention and action to all the things within your control or influence.

This helps in an outcome that is the result of your best effort, an effort born out of your choice and logical, balanced thought process.

Change the way you see, to change what you believe and what you hold true and see yourself and your world transform – seeing possibility in what once seemed impossible!


About: Mr. Deepak Kotak,

With his firm belief in human potential, Deepak aspires to play ‘catalyst’ in igniting minds towards enriched & empowered living, co-creating journeys to wholesome success. He achieves this through his coaching & training interventions, guided by core values of compassion, excellence, respect, credibility and balance; leveraging over 3 decades of experience in shipping, logistics, and people development. Deepak is an ICF-PCC and InnerMostShift Coach and is empanelled with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (T.I.S.S) and Modern Health, USA.

He can be contacted at :

April 01, 2024
By Srinidhi Vinod


March 01, 2024
By Naz Chougley


February 01, 2024
By CA Sivashankar T.

Harmonizing Life: A Journey Through Music and its Endless Lessons

November 01, 2023
By CA Aswin

The Quest for the Meaning of Life

October 01, 2023
By CA. Chithra V