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How to Recover from Insurmountable Obstacles

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I can say with certainty that desperate moments bring amazing clarity of hindsight. I have a friend that is in the process of likely losing his business. At this trying time, I have been stretched to the core as both a friend and coach as I work to help him see the silver lining in this darkest cloud of his life. I find myself wanting to plant lessons into my friend’s mind, desperately wishing that the mistakes he has made have not been in vain.


I have to admit, there are some times that I just can’t get through to him.


So what is a friend or family member to do? The lessons may or may not be lost on my friend. Only time will tell. But the lessons will not be lost on you. I’m drained, feeling emotional, and I’m searching for my own wisdom in this experience.


Read with me as I sort out my own learnings from this heartbreak—I will be literally defining it as I type:


1. Business is Personal


As business owners, our lives become entwined in our businesses. The business becomes an extension of who we are. This is especially true in the consulting industry, when we are our own brand.


Please do not fool yourself for one moment that any decision you make can be safely tucked away and forgotten. The way you live your personal life can and will affect your business. It might be a little. It might be a lot. But how you live your life personally can make or break your business. Period.


2. Always seek the open door


When one door closes, another always opens. Always.


It may take a huge leap of faith to find the door. It may take you a long time to find the door. You may find a door open that you really wish would have stayed closed. Or you may spend the rest of your life looking at the closed door, wishing forever that you could reopen it.


The point is, it’s not your job to knock on a locked door. It’s your job to take responsibility for the fact that your choices locked the door in the first place. And your job is to find the open one. No matter what.


3. Listen to your heart


If my friend had listened to his heart, none of this would have happened. But he didn’t. Along the way he was so focused on his immediate circumstances, he lost sight of the big picture. I believe he knew he should have been making different decisions along the way. But his head got in the way.


I’m almost forty. I’ve been through a hell of a lot. If I had to distill all of my life lessons into one piece of advice, it would be to follow what your heart tells you to do. This applies to both business and personal decisions. If you really listen to your heart, you will NEVER be led down the wrong path.


4. Embrace reality


We’ve all heard the expression that “Everything happens for a reason.” Guess what? Just because there is a reason, it doesn’t mean you get to know what that reason is right away! Life has a way of putting us onto a different path when we least expect it sometimes. It’s usually only in hindsight that we can understand why things happened the way they did. The only way to weather the storm is to find a way to get value out of the ride.


5. Expect a gift

Through the failure of my first business, struggling with bulimia, living in my truck for half a year, depression, my husband’s addictions, and our near divorce, there has not been one crisis in my life that hasn’t offered me priceless gifts. I wouldn’t change a step on my journey, because I value what I have learned far more than I value my comfort or blind security.


Every crisis is an opportunity. An opportunity to grow. An opportunity to change. An opportunity to help others.


And, an opportunity to become the man or woman you were born to be.


Please, please, find the gift. If you can’t, find someone who can help you find the gift.


To quote my friend Craig Harper:


“We get to choose to be incredible, amazing, inspirational and exceptional human beings despite our life experiences. Despite what the world or others have taught us. Despite our situation or circumstances. Despite our history and despite the expectations of others.”


Mother Teresa did.


Martin Luther did.


Nelson Mandela did.


They did exceptional things, they lived exceptional lives, they were exceptional.


By choice.


Related Story: Getting Back on the Career Track

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