Sunday, September 9, 2012

Oppor-Challenges


By Julie Rahm

         This week is the eleventh anniversary of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Like President Kennedy’s assassination, most Americans remember where they were on the morning of September 11th. For me, the date triggers memories of not only where I was that morning, but also where I might have been. As it turns out, that day I was working as a Department of Defense Consultant in my home office in Havelock. A meeting I was scheduled to attend in the Pentagon on September 11th had been delayed for one week. At 7:37AM on September 11th, I started my workday. At 8:37AM, I felt annoyed by the meeting delay. At 9:37AM I felt numb. John’s mom had called to tell me the news. I turned on the television only to see American Airlines Flight 77 crash into the Pentagon over and over again. I was supposed to be there.
Back then, plans, schedules, and control held my world together. I should say the perceived control from driving hard to accomplish plans and meet schedules gave me a sense of comfort. After all, how can people achieve the outcomes they want if they don’t have plans and schedules? Thank goodness I didn’t get my way and the meeting was delayed. Otherwise, I could have been crawling my way through the darkness, smoke, and debris out of the Pentagon. Or, I might have been crushed to death.
The events of September 11th shook my rigid beliefs to their core. Not being in the Pentagon was a huge gift. Was it just a coincidence? Some would call it a lucky day. Others would say it was God or The Universe at work. The bottom line was that sense of control I felt was delusional. Surprisingly, I felt relieved. The lesson I took away was that coping well with what happens trumps making things happen. And, my power to make things happen only goes so far, which is actually good.
Fast-forward to the present and a world of new uncertainties hanging in the air. This is an especially challenging time for anyone who likes to work their plan and achieve results accordingly. There are more and more circumstances in which we seem to have little or no control. Maybe you’ve seen your career or retirement derail, or your investments devastated. You may be dealing with health, family, and other personal challenges beyond anything you anticipated. How can you find the wisdom, the power, and the confidence to cope?
Sometimes external changes can lead to incredible soul-seeking, and spark creative ideas. Opportunity rides on the back of challenges. Avoid being blinded by challenges and thus missing opportunities. As the old story goes, two shoe salesmen landed in Africa. All of the local people had bare feet. The first salesman got back on the plane thinking no one was interested in having shoes. The second salesman saw opportunity everywhere. Everyone needed shoes! So, make peace with where you are. Suddenly, opportunities are everywhere.

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