Dealing With Adversity with Sal Cincotta
I have worked my ass off building a very successful business, one that has been featured on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies three years in a row. But it hasn’t been easy. The last two years have been enough to break the strongest-willed person. I have gone through a somewhat public divorce and then a business breakup with a longtime friend and business partner. Dealing with these things alone is hard enough, but the added pressure of feeling like the world is watching is enough to make you crazy.
So, what do you do? I am sure as you read this you can relate on some level. You have had things go wrong in your life or business. We all have. I don’t have all the answers. All I can do is share with you my lessons learned and how I have managed turmoil, adversity and negativity in my recent past.
Roll with the punches.
One thing I have come to realize is that you just have to roll with it. I don’t know, maybe it’s just experience that has led me to this conclusion, but what are you going to do? Give up? Whatever you are doing in life or business, it is going to be met with some level of friction. It’s impossible for it not to. I stress this to myself and my team constantly: “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”
That’s not just some cliché line. Think about it. The people who are successful are there not because they are the best or the smartest. Many times it’s because of their sheer will to do things that others are unwilling to do.
All too often, I see entrepreneurs struggle when they hit pain or friction. The first “no” they hit, they just sort of panic and give up. You just need to tell yourself, “I got this” and roll with it.
Don’t let the negativity get you off your game. And by the way, that negativity can come from friends and family, not just “haters.” Once you start climbing your success ladder, people will become very negative and very few will truly be happy for your success. I have found that circle in life to be very small.
It’s not me, it’s you.
When adversity strikes, you have a choice to make: cower in the corner with fear and panic or strike back. My philosophy has always been: I didn’t start this, but I sure as hell am going to finish it.
We are all entrepreneurs. The challenges I am speaking of impact you whether you are building a business or a career. Corporate America is cutthroat. I know, I spent 10-plus years in it. Climbing that corporate ladder? Rest assured, there is someone trying to chop your legs out from under you. You have either felt it or experienced it. If not, then I promise you, you are not the rising star in your circle.
I believe in success for all. I don’t believe your success comes at my failure or vice versa. Not everyone feels that way. Is it jealousy? Or is it pure laziness? I believe it’s laziness. You may want success but are too damn lazy to go out there and work your ass off to get it. Many of us make excuses to make ourselves feel better. “Oh well, he got the promotion because he is a kiss-ass. I am more qualified”—I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Or, “He got the promotion because he spent more time selling himself, making sure the people in the office knew how qualified he was, and spent time networking with the key people in the office.” See my point?
Is photography really any different? I had to laugh when I was reading in a local St. Louis photography forum about a photographer who was a guest at a wedding I was shooting. He was mocking me and my business because we were supposed to be a high-end studio, but I was wearing Chucks at the wedding. How unprofessional of me. Really? That’s all you got? You are sitting home broke, your business is failing or struggling, and your thing is I am wearing Chucks. So you are better than me because of that?
We all know what it is like to deal with the cattiness of our peers. Do not let it break your spirit. Instead, realize that this comes from a place of negativity and a refusal to accept that they are where they are in life and business because of the decisions they make. It’s not you. I promise you. It’s them.
Keep that in the back of your mind. These people are pathetic, they are jealous, they are a cancer in your life. Disconnect from them. Disconnect from these groups. Focus on what you are doing because you are doing something right.
Deal with the hand in front of you.
I have learned in both business and in life that I can’t always control what lands on my doorstep, but I can sure as hell handle how I respond. I believe in fighting fire with fire. You come at me, I am bringing the heat back at you. I will never run from a fight. I am just not wired that way. Now, that might lead you to think I like conflict or adversity.
Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. I would much rather have peace around me. You can’t control what the people around you do. I have learned that over and over again. But you can control your own destiny. You will be dealt a hand and then have a choice to make. Fold and run or stay and play it out.
If you decide to fold and run, you are not meant to run a business and you will struggle your entire life to find success at any level. Harsh? Perhaps. Reality? Most definitely.
Success is not easy. It’s hard. It’s messy. It’s a struggle to get there and even harder to stay there. You need to learn how to fight for what you want when it gets tough. Most importantly, you need to learn when to bring some offense to the fight so you’re not always playing defense. An attack will come fast and furious at times, and you will need to take what you have been dealt and make the most of it.
Fight the fight, and, most importantly, fight to win. Let everyone around you know that you are in this to win and that if they come at you, you will push back on them even harder.
Shit happens—keep pushing forward.
On your journey through your career, you will be faced with adversity on many levels. Do not let these moments break you. It’s hard, I know. But it gets easier with every passing day. You are not alone. Everyone’s dealing with their own demons. It can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders at times, but you can do it. You can push through this. Just stay positive and surround yourself with positive people who want the same things. You will soon realize that your circle should remain tight. Keep the cancer out.
Remember: If it were easy, everyone would do it. It’s true. People are lazy. They want the fruits of success without the incredibly hard work that is required to get there. If you are one of those people who gets this and understands that success is not about luck but about working longer and harder than your peers and doing the things that no one wants to do, I am speaking to you.
Success is there for you. Work hard, and when you feel like quitting, push even harder. Pull an all-nighter. Do what you need to do to achieve your goals. When those around you are laughing at you, mocking you, telling you it can’t be done, use that as fuel. Prove them wrong. Be motivated to show them you will succeed. The ways you handle the pressure will become your defining moments. I believe in you.
And by the way, I am wearing Chucks as I write this.