What if your Darkest Moment was actually your Greatest Gift?

Heart Shaped CloudThis was the question that Mastin Kipp, blogger to over 600,000 people daily on his site www.TheDailyLove.com asked of himself and all of his followers recently. It is of particular significance to me this week because a very dear friend and colleague of mine is going through one of those moments as I write. JK RowlingI thought I would pose this question to my friend and to every one of you and in so doing, remind you of the quote attributed to famed author, J.K. Rowling, whom we all know had quite a long relationship with life’s dark clouds before the silver linings finally shone through. As J.K.  said… “Rock Bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” Who hasn’t had a time in their life when every seed that was sown seemed to fall on arid ground? I know I have…
Mastin Kipp makes a telling point about effort and expectation. He feels that we tend to think logically in ‘If… then’ statements. To quote his line of reasoning… “If I’m a good person, then good things will happen to me. If I follow all the rules, then I will be rewarded. If something bad happens to me then there must be something wrong with me. If I experience pain, then what’s happening is bad. If I experience pleasure, then what’s happening is good.”

He goes on to say that he believes that having a logical point of view can be extremely limiting and if we truly understood this, we wouldn’t be quite so quick to apply meaning to the events of our lives. i.e. Just because we feel good or bad doesn’t mean what’s happening is good or bad.

His explanation of the conflict that ‘good vs bad’ can produce in us is thought provoking. Mastin explains it this way… “When I was doing drugs and drinking alcohol, in the moment I felt good, but nevertheless I was unaware of the long term effects of my actions, and when I’m working out in the gym it may hurt like hell, but there is a massive long term reward for me.” He goes on to share his thoughts on the counter-intuitive nature of things and that what’s bad might actually be good and what’s good might actually be bad, and that we need opposites to learn, to grow and to evolve, and maybe the worst things in our lives, seen from a new perspective, might actually be our greatest gift.

Viktor FranklThe late Viktor Frankl, MD, PhD, is a celebrated neurologist, psychiatrist and author of many books on existentialism  including his world renowned, best selling book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning.’ In this seminal book Frankl, a holocaust survivor, chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate which led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus, a reason to continue living.

One of the most poignant and yet inspirational movies I can remember, also touches on this subject of making meaning out of the worst imaginable circumstances. It is an Italian film subtitled ‘Life is Beautiful’ directed by and starring Roberto Benigni. It is based on his father’s experience as a concentration camp survivor. It covers the experience of a Jewish Italian book shop owner who must employ his fertile imagination to shield his young son from the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp during one of mankind’s darkest periods in history. Life is BeautifulThe 1997 film was a critical and popular success, winning Benigni the Oscar for Best Actor as well as the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Foreign Language Film. I highly recommend it to you and guarantee that even though it is a subtitled film, the emotional impact of its message will not escape you.

Given that it is most probably hard wired into all of us to make meaning of every event in our life, what are the choices we make as a result? Although we hear the comment at least once a week, if not daily in business… ‘that was a good result…that was a bad result,’ the reality is there is no such thing as a good or bad result, just a result. We put the meaning of good and bad upon it. A better way of describing a ‘bad’ result might be to say… ‘That result is not bringing me closer to my goal, so what am I learning and what do I need to do instead… adjust my actions or reassess my goal?’ And a better way of describing a ‘good’ result might be to say… ‘That result is leading me closer to my goal, so what can I learn from that and what can I do more of as a result?’

But back to the topic of dark clouds and silver linings. I say to myself; my very dear friend; and to all of you reading this blog who may have or will experience utter despair or personal doubt some time in your life… Life is Precious and so are You, and the meaning you discover about this time in your life may be the most profound lesson you ever learn about yourself and the difference you were destined to make.

So look beyond those clouds and see the infinite possibility that exists within your Universe, and celebrate life with all of the mysteries it bestows upon you. As the co-creator of your life, keep the faith and forge ahead in whatever direction your heart is pointing to right now… and trust that the meaning will find you.

Drop me an email to brian@precisionprofiling.com.au if you would like to know more about how together, we can help you find the deeper meaning in your life.

Until then… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less.  Have a great week – Brian

Precision ProfilingWhat Makes You Tick?  Through ‘Motivational Fingerprinting’ we uncover what you do, how you do it and why you do it, and most importantly, the hidden patterns that lead to your success, and that of your team.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here

Comments

  1. In my opinion, you are mixing up constructs when you discuss “darkest moments and greatest gifts.” Or perhaps linking the Holocaust to not reaching your goals puts me off. The consideration of dark moments and great gifts is not binary – based on my interpretation of Frankl’s work, I cannot imagine that he would consider any part of the Holocaust a “great gift,” not even the meaning of life he he researched and shared post-Holocaust. How can this darkest moment be a great gift with the accompanying knowledge of those who didn’t live, those who remained tortured. Yes, there are great truths we can learn from hardship. Yet to construe this as a great gift is a leap too far for me to make. My son lay on his deathbed for three years. This was the darkest moment for all in our family. Eventually we found a path to cure as chronicled in our award winning book, “In Pain We Trust.” While it is true that we all learned a great many lessons during this trial, I will never consider three years of needless torturous life threatening illness and pain to a child as a gift – and certainly not a “great gift.”

    • Thank you for your comment Vicki and I respect your opinion and feelings about this matter and cannot begin to understand the trauma it would have caused you and your family. I also respect the perception that other people have towards what have been their own darkest periods in their lives, myself included. The meanings that one gives to one’s own experiences is their choice and each of our opinions are valid in that context. Ultimately if what I have had to say has sparked introspection and insight for people and support for my opinions as well as vehement disagreement then I honour the fact that we live in a world where such agreements and disagreements can be canvassed openly and assertively without the threat of violence or retribution. There are so many contexts where that is no longer the case today. As my final comment in my blog post above says .. some times “the meaning will find you.” – Brian

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