Circumstances Reveal Who You Are

August 2, 2010

I used to use a little humor in my keynote speech by talking about dealing with adversity, and then I would ask the audience a question: Do you know when I’m at my best?

The audience would guess something like, “when you are tested and overcome circumstances?” I would say, “No, I’m at my best when everything goes my way.” 

After a few laughs the audience would recoginze the truth in that statement. All of us want things to go our way and we are happy when circumstances are of our choosing.

However, the opportunity for growth often presents itself through difficulties and unwanted circumstances.
I call this place “The Gap.”

If you are committed to personal growth there will almost always be a gap between where you are and where you want to be.  The visual I use in my Stop Your Drama Methodolgy is that of a rowboat going to an island. If the journey is 5 miles away, there is not so much drama. If the journey is 500 miles away there is more opportunity for drama. In other words, the larger the gap, the more potential for drama.

Here are some truths to help you manage those difficult times in the gap.

1. Know what is required
Do a little planning and research before jumping out there too far. You can’t get to the island 5000 miles away with a rowboat, no team and no map. Know what you need in time, money, and resources before you make such a big commitment, otherwise you are not going to be equipped to handle the drama in such a big gap.

2. Chunk it down
Whether you are working by yourself, or leading a team you can manage the gap more effectively by making designated stopping places. In other words, row to the island 50 miles away and stop on an island to celebrate. Then get back in that boat and row toward your island. Your team will stay motivated if they feel a sense of accomplishment along the way.

3. Make a game of it
Instead of resisting the drama in the gap, be prepared to see how you can handle it with grace. Make it a part of your inner journey of growth. Practice patience if you are normally impatient. See how long you can go without complaining. Make yourself bigger than your circumstances and see how this improves your self-esteem.

4. Realize that life is lived in the gap
Realize that drama in the gap will not equal success on the island. If you are miserable while on the way to accomplishing your goal, chances are you aren’t going to be much happier once you get to “the island.” Keep in mind that life is always lived in the gap and drama in the gap will not equal real success on the island.

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The Gap and the Three Life Tragedies

December 27, 2007

The gap is the distance between where you are and where you want to be. You’re in a row boat paddling to an island. Your island is 50 miles away, 500 miles away or 5000 miles away.

The gap is a good thing. If there is a gap between where you are and where you want to be, it means that you have a vision and you know the distance.

If you don’t even know where you want to be but you are still unhappy you are in the first life tragedy. The first tragedy is that you know you want something more but you don’t know what it is.

 The First Tragedy
In the first tragedy you realize you don’t have a vision at all but you are unsatisfied with your current situation, be it a relationship, a job or a life calling. In the first tragedy you don’t know what you want but you know that what you have isn’t “it.”

The Second Tragedy
Once you know what you want you enter into the second tragedy: You know what it is that you want but you don’t believe it’s possible. In other words, you see the island, but the gap between you and your island is 5000 miles away therefore it seems impossible.

 All you have is two little oars to get you there. (You haven’t yet learned about motors, or sails or other means of helping you get to that island that seems so far away). You are in tragedy number two either because you haven’t told yourself the truth about where you really are, or you don’t know HOW to get to the island therefore it doesn’t seem doable.
To get out of dream-land you must eventually pass through tragedy number two and into tragedy number three.

The Third Tragedy
The third tragedy is when you know what you want (you see the island) and you believe it’s possible (the gap is only 500 miles away not 5000) but you aren’t sure you are willing to do what it takes to get to the island.
 
Now you are still uncomfortable but the difference is that you can now identify a real gap between where you are and where you want to go. Once you pass through to the third tragedy you must get past the transitional tragedy. The transitional tragedy is when you know what you want,  you believe it’s possible and you now must make the commitment to set sail.  If you want to move past the transitional tragedy you  must be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. This is where the real journey begins.