In this month's column, I would like to touch on something that has been a constant since I started All Canadian Fitness in 1993: adversity.

You will get to know it early in your career. If you let it get the best of you, your business will be over before it starts. However, if you make friends with it and control it, adversity will push you to new levels of success. As your career develops and you grow, you will always have adversity. The way that you deal with it will determine whether you continue to thrive or whether your business hits a brick wall and dies. Even after many years with a proven track record and method of operation, adversity will sneak up when you least expect it.

It is said that "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" - dramatic, but oh-so-true. As I entered my second year in the personal training business, I was hit with a rather large tax bill at the end of the year. With no means to pay the bill, I was forced to negotiate a re-payment plan with the government, or go out of business. Necessity being the mother of invention, I learned from this mis-step and developed a system where all taxes owed by my business would be calculated and put aside in a dedicated bank account. The situation could have killed us but didn't, and we grew stronger from the experience.

Adversity will come into your life in many ways, whether by way of big tax bills, employee turnover, illness, natural disasters, etc. It is a given that these things will happen to you in a lifetime and in your business life. The thing that matters is how you deal with them. In the best case scenario, you will even be able to turn something negative into something positive. The way to do this is to understand just how powerful it is to ask better questions. Find a truly successful person, and you can be sure that they ask the best questions.

When faced with adversity, ask yourself "What is great about this situation?" As ridiculous as it might seem, you can find something great in any situation. For me, the great thing about my tax problem was that I had just made way more money than I had expected. That is a great problem to have. Ask long enough, and you will find your answer.

The next thing to do is ask "What can I possibly do to fix this problem or situation?" Let your imagination run and brainstorm without filtering the answers. Sort them out later, and you will be surprised at the useful ideas that you just came up with.

As an entrepreneur, the ability to shift focus and stay on course throughout your career is vital. Don't lose sight of your goals, especially during times of adversity. Using questions is the most powerful tool at your disposal to do this.

Your mind cannot avoid thinking about the things that you ask it to think about. Focus on your problems, and pretty soon, they will be the only thing that exists.

Ernie Schramayr is an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer and the owner of All Canadian Fitness, a private training studio in Hamilton, Ontario (


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