“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

I had the great good fortune of being in Washington, DC on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year. On that Monday, I drove by the lit steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the same place where Dr. King gave his famous I Have a Dream Speech on Aug. 23, 1963. It was that speech that inspired millions of people across the United States to stand up and fight back against something they believed was wrong.

Seeing that spot got me thinking about how a man could stand there in the face of all adversity and push for what he believed was right. How a person could be knocked down time and time again and continue to stand back up and make his voice heard until something changed.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Running a small business is by no means as difficult or as impactful as what Dr. King did, but I think there are things a small business owner could learn from him, especially when faced with great adversity. The truly strong business owners are the ones that face great adversity, adapt and come out stronger.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through; how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain when you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami

The big question is how do you weather that storm? I think for everyone, there’s going to be a different answer because what works for one person, most likely won’t work for another. But there are things you can do.

Many successful business owners meet adversity with their mind already in the right place. They have prepared mentally for this inevitable set back. They know that wallowing in the failure is not going to make it better, only worse. Because of this, they are ready to move forward. They are prepared to take steps to fix the problem and turn that adversity into an opportunity. Maybe it changes the course of their entire business, maybe it leads to another dead end. But they know that no matter what, it is better than doing nothing.

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” ― Maya Angelou

Another thing successful entrepreneurs do is stay confident in the face of adversity. Men like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Oracle founder Larry Ellison are not known for backing down from a fight. They are confident in themselves and in their abilities. They do not allow failure to stop them, only spur them on.

Every successful business owner needs to have confidence in his or her abilities. It’s that confidence that will help them get through the toughest times.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” — Theodore Roosevelt

And no matter what happens, when you face adversity, smile. Find a way to laugh in the face of adversity. That in itself can give you strength.

Written by Erika Towne