Before my journey into social media, I thought of online interaction as superficial or at best very distant. However, I found that caring relationships can develop and grow. I also found that deep insights can emerge from often frivolous discussion.
One example of relationship and insight came from an exchange with a Twitter friend who had been ill for a few weeks. A number of people, including myself, wished him good health. He responded to my Tweet with the following powerful comment:
“As difficult as it is to believe, my hardships have prepared me well for all the outstanding days of my life.”
As I read his Tweets, his warmth and consideration are obvious, and his comment led me to think of a short portion of my book, dealing with how one copes with adversity. I have included it below:
[T]imes of crisis often provide opportunities for introspection and recognition of areas for growth.
It is all in how one looks at crisis. In the midst of financial collapse or major life changes, it is hard to welcome an opportunity for change. However, devastating events offer opportunities to reinvent or rediscover ourselves. Realizing that it is possible to turn devastation into abundance unlocks a door for new and sometimes better possibilities.
In his powerful book Mastery, George Leonard (1992) discusses his efforts to master the martial art of Aikido in which partners attempt to gain energy from aggressive physical force directed at them. They use this energy to deflect attacks and control the attackers. Leonard refers to this process as “gaining energy from unexpected blows,” and suggests using it as a practice in daily living. To think of turning setbacks or misfortunes into this type of energy is a liberating idea.
As difficult as it may seem, it is helpful to look at unexpected disappointments and misfortune as forces that can provide impetus for meaningful work and greater satisfaction. Using this idea, the goal is to determine at what point one could experience gratitude for disappointments and painful experiences, and until then, remain open to the possibility that crisis can hold the seeds of opportunity.
All of us are aware of examples of this occurrence. Candy Lightner, the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Pamela Rowse (Bach, 2010), who is working to eliminate Shaken Baby Syndrome, turned suffering and losses of family members into efforts to protect others. Walt Disney turned a life that began with child abuse and financial calamity into a financial and cultural empire (Castro, 2005).
Julio Olalla (2005) said, “Our wounds are our assets.” He suggested using painful experiences to focus on passion and to fashion the kind of life that is most desirable. None of us wants to experience the kind of loss that can lead to these circumstances, but it is important to realize that loss of any kind has that potential. Embracing life events, difficult situations, and sometimes self-defeating attitudes as stepping-stones to improvement helps to overcome them.
Understanding and dealing with these barriers to change helps to overcome them and helps one to be the best leader, spouse or friend one can be. The important question is: How?
It is apparent to me that my friend has embraced this comment.
What are your assets? How are you using them to make your life or someone else’s life better?
Excerpt from Connect: Affective Leadership℠ for Effective Results.
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- Bach, L. K. (2010, October 15). Shaken baby syndrome: Grandmother turns pain into action. Retrieved October 15, 2010, from Las Vegas Review: http://www.lvrj.com/news/11812121.html
- Castro, D. (2005). Critical choices that change lives: How heroes turn tragedy into triumph. Austin, TX: Beartooth Press.
- Leonard, G. (1992). Mastery: The keys to success and long-term fulfillment. New York: Plume.
- Olalla. (2005). From knowledge to wisdom. Reston, Virginia: Newfield Network.