Did you ever really, really want something and not get it, and later when you look back on it, it all makes sense?
I’ve heard people say that there is perfection in our lives – that where we are and what happens is in some ways perfect. For many things I accept this – but when we lose a loved one, especially a child – or something similar, it is hard to see any kind of perfection in those tragic events.
But, just for this conversation, let’s just discuss events around our careers?
I look back when I was working full time and going to the evening MBA program. It was over 10 years ago. Arthur Andersen Consulting was big, at least it seemed to be from my perspective. They were worldwide, visible, and seemed to have a great reputation. Through the university’s MBA program, I got to meet many of the local Arthur Andersen’s (AA) staff. They were about my age and seemed like really interesting people. I researched AA more and it seemed really interesting.
So I started the interview process. I was intrigued and excited. I loved it. I seemed to be doing well in the process – although it was a long process. They had 5-6 interviews. I felt things were going well and got invited back to my 5th interview. I was pumped. That interview was tough, and I eventually was told that they ‘passed me over’ this time.
I was crushed. I was so excited, felt connected to the people, the mission, the pay, the aura. It really bothered me.
A few weeks went by and through the MBA program, we heard that AA was no longer going to pursue ANY candidates. What? None of us? There were about 7 people in the last stages. We heard two might be hired.
Then we found out that Arthur Andersen was somehow involved with ENRON. There was a big backlash and other problems. Suddenly no hiring. Soon after layoffs came to AA.Then I was told the Pittsburgh office was downsized. That opportunity had looked SOOOOOO good. I would have almost paid for it. I wanted it so bad.
Now I was somewhat relieved that I didn’t get hired. I later found out that some former Arthur Andersen staff had a tough time getting hired elsewhere, at least for a while, due to the Enron stigma. In reality many had nothing to do with it but the PR was bad.
I’ve had other times in my life where I started a partnership with another guy and it seemed to be a great thing. Then in 2 months he decided to end our contract. I was shocked. There was really no reason, all parties were performing and doing well. I was mad, upset, hurt, confused……but it didn’t take long to realize that he was so incredibly anal, controlling, etc. – that we probably would not have gotten along. Years later I talked to someone in the industry that had worked for him and he didn’t have anything good to say. He felt that the years with him were lost years. A bad breakup turned out to be good?
I remember attending a football banquet with my father. A local organization put it on for charity – some of the Pittsburgh Steelers attended and spoke, took pictures, etc. Two of the Steelers spoke about how they progressed – even how they were guided through their careers and through life. The kicker, Gary Anderson, spoke about being on the football team before the Steelers. Before the NFL, he was a very accurate kicker and was drafted. After being drafted to the NFL, he spoke about how his kicking in practice and in games was far below his potential. As he said it, “I could kick better with my left foot than I was with my right during that period.” He soon got cut. He went through all the bad emotions and worry. How could he ever work again? Would he be able to kick well ever again? Etc.
Then he was picked up by the Steelers. For whatever reasons, when he arrived on the Steelers, he kicked well again. It seemed much easier and things went well for a number of years. He was happier, he contributed to the team, the community, his family was happy, etc. Looking back, that previous experience and failure almost seemed necessary – it seemed perfect.
I’ve heard many other stories of people in sports, life, love where a crushing blow seemed to be the worst loss, failure, dead end, or bad moment in their lives. Something that seemed to be so good, so desirable, such a must was suddenly taken away or shut off. How could they ever recover? Maybe it was a relationship, a career change, a move, whatever.
Then, a short period after, they looked back and they were glad it happened. One thing led to another and something better showed up. Something unexpected came about and now they were happy.
This has happened in my own life many times in many ways. More recently there has been a career event that seemed to be so good, then suddenly changed and it hurt. I’m still too close to look back on it clearly but for once I’m kind of excited to see the perfection in the new life and options I now have. I feel calm, confident, and faithful that whatever comes next will be better and that event is part of the perfection.
I’ve read different stories about people getting hurt and now have to use a wheelchair all their lives but they now feel grateful for the new role. How many people have you heard say they went for a certain job and found it miserable, and now they have a better, simpler life doing something else, something that they could not have dreamed of on their own? An injury? A loved one being challenged by something? Any of the hurdles each of us face….
Some people say it is Destiny. Others say God is guiding us. Some say that it is our Inner Self guiding us. There is no right or wrong answer. For me, I feel it is a little bit of all the above.
I feel that Destiny/God/Inner Self is all the same thing. When we calm down and listen to ourselves, we often feel/see/hear the ‘right’ decisions. I believe that this guides us. I also believe that our Inner Self is connected to the outside world – the Source, God, the Universe whatever you call it. Are we being guided or guiding ourselves? Does it really matter?
There is an old Chinese proverb that helps us have a perspective on events….is something ‘good’ or ‘bad’
Sāi Wēng Lost his Horse –Sāi Wēng lived on the border and he raised horses for a living. One day he lost a horse and his neighbor felt sorry for him, but Sāi Wēng didn’t care about the horse, because he thought it wasn’t a bad thing to lose a horse. After a while the horse returned with another beautiful horse, and the neighbor congratulated him on his good luck. But Sāi Wēng thought that maybe it wasn’t a good thing to have this new horse.
His son liked the new horse a lot and often took it riding. One day his son fell off the horse and broke his leg. Because of his broken leg, he couldn’t go off to the war, as was expected of all the young men in the area. Most of them died.
This proverb is said when bad luck turns to good, or when good luck turns to bad.
Related to this, we should avoid labeling anything as good or bad.
I suggest taking words like bad, good, negative, positive out of your self talk by simply stating what it is without labeling it. For example: you may feel emotional inside where your energy is low in a situation, ask yourself if that feeling is serving you and if it is, ok…if not, choose to change to another feeling state. Realize that you may not know if this event today is really ‘bad’ or ‘good’ yet.
Be excited to find how the failure, disappointment, rejection is just going to lead to something better. Be relaxed and at ease that you’ll be guided – by yourself or by something else – to the right spot, to the state of perfection. Have faith, have patience, and let it happen.