More than three months after lockdown we’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.

There are predictions that Scotland has a chance of being Covid-19 free by the end of the summer and just this week many retail businesses finally got to reopen their doors.

It’s certainly a step towards economic recovery (as the queues demonstrate) but there are still challenges ahead as businesses try to survive the “new normal”. Yet maintaining motivation and creative thinking in the face of such adversity isn’t easy.

But there are lessons we can learn from the leaders of yesteryear such as Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, whose writings remains as relevant as ever.

Aurelius said: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."

In short we should try to view difficulties as challenges to be overcome. And even when things are bad, we can often find opportunities to rework, transform and grow.

I wholeheartedly agree and, whilst we’d all prefer not to experience chaos, when we’re unavoidably faced with it, it can force us to think outside the box.

A perfect illustration of this comes from Scottish patent attorney Donald McNab from IP firm Marks & Clerk who says the current crisis has been a driver for innovation.

He said: “Without a doubt the war against Covid-19 demonstrates that necessity is the mother of invention. The media is replete with stories of firms rushing to innovate – there are so many examples.

“A UK consortium of businesses from engineering, technology and industry came together to produce ventilators. Another company started manufacturing them using 3D printed parts. A US green energy fuel cell company even transformed its manufacturing process so it could fix broken ventilators.

“Elsewhere we’ve seen everything from hands-free door handles to masks with virus-killing coatings. People are pulling out all the stops and innovating to meet these urgent needs.”

It’s not just through the pandemic we see examples of adversity fanning the flames of creativity either.

In my role as Vistage chair, I have watched businesses across a range of sectors showing real ingenuity when faced with challenges. One that really stands out in my mind is Pagazzi, the largest independent lighting retailer in the UK.

I’ve watched the company come up against all manner of obstacles throughout its 40-year history, yet it only seems to make them stronger, fight harder and get better. They navigate every challenge with a determined and positive mindset. These lessons don’t just apply to business. They apply to every one of us in all walks of life.

Take a friend of mine who worked in petrochemicals for example. He thought he was in a job for life and was devastated to face redundancy. So he did something that would previously have been unthinkable and went back to university before embarking on a career in the music industry. He’d never have left that comfortable bubble of a well-paid career if his hand hadn’t been forced, and now here he is living his dream.

With all of these thoughts in mind, I’ll leave you with one piece of bedtime reading. There’s a Sufi parable that perfectly illustrates this philosophy, which you’ll find if you search the phrase: “good thing, bad thing, who knows?”.

The upshot is that we shouldn’t label things good or bad, as we can only know in retrospect how things pan out. We just have to get on with it and face each challenge, viewing each bump in the road as something new to learn from and grow, and inevitably make us stronger.

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and group chair with Vistage International, a global leadership development network for CEOs.