Given the retirement of Steve Jobs as CEO of Apple, I was reminded of his attitude about his health risks and how it empowered rather than limited him:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything; all external expectations, pride, fear of embarrassment or failure; these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” (Steve Jobs, 2005 Commencement speech).
This got me to thinking about the hundreds of other examples of those who suffered severe setbacks in life, only to recognize later that these events opened the door for accomplishments that transformed them.
I immediately think of Lance Armstrong and the cancer that almost took his life, yet he has often said it was the defining moment of his spectacular career.
Rachel Ray, who was mugged twice coming home to her apartment in New York City and fearing for her life went back home to upstate New York and the safety of her family. To make ends meet, she started a little cooking class in a local market where she was working and wrote a little book on 30 minutes dishes. Al Roker from NBC was from Syracuse and was handed the book. This led to a last minute spot on the Today show, and of course, the rest is culinary history.
Jim Braddock, the “Cinderella Man” and heavyweight champ of the world was known in his early career as a fighter without an effective left hand. During the depression he broke his right hand and thought his career was over. He was forced to work on the docks only using his left hand. By the time he got his shot at Max Baer for the title fight, his left hand was as lethal as his right and helped him win the fight in 15 rounds.
There are far too many examples to recite here, but the lesson for me is that you never know in life what’s good and what’s bad. Looking back on my own life, there were times that felt desperate and unsalvageable, but reflecting back I can see who I was able to become in those moments opened up a life of new possibilities.
How about you? In your life, are you able to see past setbacks in a new positive light?
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