Adversity not only makes one stronger, it also enables traits like self-efficacy, empathy, personal growth and being able to view challenges as an opportunity. But when adversity extends like the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts your emotional and mental health, you need to emerge strong out of it. More often than not the knowledge and tools to deal with any adversity helps us handle it better especially at work, whereas the lack of these spell despair. Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by author Laura Huang is her effort to address that void and provide the necessary tools.

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Laura Huang’s mother, after moving to America, acknowledged her disadvantages, namely that of being a Taiwanese immigrant who spoke limited English. She actively did what others didn’t expect of her - sassy salesmanship in her job, which then led her to succeed as an economically sufficient single-parent. She was Laura Huang’s first real-life role model for turning adversity into an advantage.

In her well-researched book, using psychology, real-world examples and anecdotes from famous and ordinary people, under the umbrella acronym EDGE, Laura Huang details thirteen principles that dispel beliefs and tenets about success and offers alternatives that make one rethink the way they perceive their own 'disadvantages' and altering that perception to 'assets'.

The four-phase approach states:

  • Enrich - This phase sets the foundation for the importance of being able to distinguish one’s strengths and use those strengths to add value, specifically in arenas that others may not consider. Enrich is also about embracing constraints rather than trying to surmount them because in constraints one can find opportunities. Intuition and experience also play a very important part in being able to discern whether or not all of one’s efforts do indeed enrich.
  • Delight - This phase details the importance of being able to communicate your value and create delight by using apt communication strategies - pitch and extend. This could be using reflective improvisation to make connections. Using humor as a tool to diffuse difficult situations and trusting one’s intuition and gut are also some ways of creating delight.
  • Guide - This phase provides strategies on the power of perception. One can frame perceptions and ascribe attributes to reclaim the narrative. Externally, this can be done in a way that they represent one’s value, capabilities, and path in the best possible light. Onward and future-forward is the mantra - one must consistently communicate the journey ahead and not rest on laurels or adversity overcome in the past.
  • Effort - Hard work alone will not speak for itself. It needs to be a consistent effort of all the phases put together. Following the process along with hard work is the key to experience success. However, along that journey, there will also come disappointment, insecurity, and doubt where one has to reflect on how committed they are to succeed with these setbacks. It’s important to acknowledge, accept it, and move on. Turning one’s adversity into advantage and gaining an edge doesn’t come easy, but when done, it also brings about the self-affirmed and unapologetic belief that this is what sets one apart.

In conclusion, this book gives its readers the cues to self-reflect upon and the skills to hone. By taking that first step towards self-discovery, it’s a step closer to altering the factors that cause us to fail, into tools for our success.

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