Business and life seldom go to plan. Our dreams are dashed at every turn. We face constant battles, set-backs, failures and terrible life-altering events. It's not if these things happen but when. But there is one decision we can all make right now to ease the path to joy.
Years ago, my friend David had a head-on collision at full highway speeds while driving his motorcycle on a country road. A panel van he had been following, swerved to miss a red truck in the wrong lane whose driver had fallen asleep at he wheel. David was blown out of shoes (imagine the force it takes to do that) and tossed into a fiery ditch, waking up in the hospital to face weeks of soul-searing pain and months of surgeries. It was so bad at times that David just tried to survive five second sweeps of the clock in his hospital room. Despite this, and amazingly, he came to the conclusion that everything happens for the best, even if it is not obvious at the time. That last part is key.
It’s easy to think of the days we met our spouses, or when our children were born, or we had some big promotion at work as the best things that have ever happened, but as good as they are, they are often less character building than the tragic occurrences wrought by cruel fate, bad planning or unlucky decisions.
Over the years I have heard people tell me that their accident, cancer, divorce, bankruptcy, rape or firing turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to them, because of the character they had to develop to survive it. Success is an obvious comedy but the tragedies we endure, learn from and then prevail over seem to add a deeper kind of fulfillment.
In listening to people’s horrible survival stories, I have come to appreciate that there is an actual process people go through not merely to recover from them but to use them as catalytic events.
The first stage is the tragedy itself, as some terrible event unfolds. After the painful emotions subside, people enter a new stage where they see the value in the event: “if it was not for my [accident, cancer, divorce, bankruptcy, rape or firing} this good thing that followed from it (reconciliation with a relative, new love or business opportunity] would not have happened. After a while they begin to see the divine beauty in the unfolding of all the events in their lives and finally, as they have healed from the initial trauma, they see the humor–the improbable humor–in it. That’s the cycle of life.
Not every tragedy becomes a comedy. I have noticed however that people have an easier time if they take the position that whatever is happening is the best thing that ever happened. Even if it is not that obvious at the time. The last time I saw David, he had a barely discernible limp but a very discernible belly laugh.
Someone out there is having a hard time getting over some discouraging or devastating event. It's hard to make their miracle happen. Please take a moment to share this or a bit of your own story. Every bit of perspective helps.