In Sonthofen, Germany in the beautiful German Alps, I had the good fortune to listen to a very famous German author and leadership trainer named Boris Grundl. 20 or so years ago this man was a star tennis player with a bright future ahead of him. Then disaster struck. He had a diving accident in Mexico that left him paralyzed permanently from the waist down and that required two years of rehab just to gain full use of his upper body again.
He didn’t talk too much about his personal story because we were in Germany and he is very famous and his story has been on television and he has written multiple best selling books. What he did say, from his wheel chair on stage, that I greatly appreciated, was that at the time of his accident he had no idea what a blessing it would be for him. In essence he shared in his straight-forward and authentic manor that it was one of the best things that ever happened to him.
Handling the unexpected.
As a result of the accident, his life went in a different direction. He became a rising star in the corporate world, and then founded his leadership academy. His life became about how to help other people, and he has helped many.
The point of this email is perspective. When we are in the middle of crisis we don’t usually have perspective. We are too busy lamenting our situation. Wondering why it’s happening to us. How can we go on. Things will never be the same. And all the other things that our human, comfort-desiring selves say.
The truth is that we never know the outcome of anything we are experiencing. We have no idea what is set in motion by any event, whether we percieve it to be good or bad. Each choice we make and each situation we encounter is part of the fabric of our life.
I can think of many occassions in my life that at the time seemed terrible to me and turned out to be enormous blessings. I thank God I was laid off in banking twice as a young man. It forced me to grab the reins and set a new course and I have lived a very unique and fulfilling life as a result (instead of possibly spending years in a career I didn’t love).
Holding my brother in my arms as he took his last conscious breath at the age of 42, has helped me appreciate each day God has blessed me with all the more. I used to be a worrier…but not any more. In those times when I begin to “sweat the small stuff” I am quick to recognize and let it go. That was a devastating day. I cried for hours on the curb of the Pheonix, AZ hospital…but what a blessing it has been.
Several years ago I had people I supported, invested in, thought were friends try to ruin my work and hurt my family…it made me stronger, more discerning, and helped me look at myself in new ways to become a better man and leader.
My list is long of adversities, and disappointments that ended up being gifts from God. Now I look at things and think…”This is interesting”…or “I wonder where this will take me.”
This I know for certain…”God will never give you something that you cannot handle.” Something else I know for certain is that whatever challenges you face in your life are what will build your character and create your appreciation. What a boring life it would be to have no challenges. You would have to be sitting in one place your entire life to have no struggles.
There are many people around us right now who are losing jobs or are living in fear of various situations….what if they got up in the morning, and thought to themselves, thank you God for this day. I am alive, I have the freedom to choose what I do, and I have everything I need.
Remember, you cannot appreciate sunshine unless you experience clouds and rain. Life is a series of seasons, and changes. Embrace it. Be thankful. Give of yourself to others and have faith. Pursue your dreams as if there is no alternative.
If you are living in sunshine right now, enjoy it, and hope it doesn’t last too long, for too much will make you complacent.
If you are experiencing the rain, know that this will pass, and you will soon see sunshine.