Archive | April 21, 2013

Four Lessons on Dealing With Disappointment

A friend I care about very much hit me up recently. She had been promised an amazing opportunity, the kind of thing she was aching to do to further herself personally and professionally. And then at the last minute, the opportunity fell through. “I’m trying not to cry at my desk,” she admitted. I knew exactly how she felt. At my old job, there were many days where I had to shed tears in the bathroom, or in the parking lot, crouched down between two cars (before I had a car of my own to cry in). Yes. I’ve been there and I know how it feels, when a lost opportunity just crushes your spirit completely. I’ve learned a few things from experiences like these. Let me share four lessons I’ve learned the hard way, on dealing with disappointment.

Lesson number ONE — don’t let them see you cry. And by “them,” I mean the folks in your professional life. Coworkers, bosses, authority figures, the general public. I’m a very emotional Pisces and when I’m hurt or sad or angry, you can see it in my eyes. I can’t help it. Never have been able to hide my emotions well, but I’ve had to learn how to through the years. I worked in office environments for years before fleeing office life, traditional bosses and coworkers altogether. Having to hide your disappointment at losing an opportunity that could potentially take you away from your drudgery and closer to your dreams, is TOUGH. It will take all your acting skills. But it’s for the best. And don’t let people who have disappointed you know how much they’ve affected your emotions, if you hope to maintain a professional relationship with them. It’s super hard. But truly necessary.

Lesson number TWO — don’t share what might happen. Share what HAS happened. So many times I see folks tweet about a phone call they got, or an e mail promising an amazing possibility. As much as you may want to shout it from the rooftops… trust me when I tell you, it’s probably best to keep your cards close to your chest until the thing’s actually HAPPENING. I learned this the hard way in 2007, when I did my first interview for a major magazine. I told my family and friends back home and word spread and everyone was excited for me….and then that feature never ran. Being asked about that wasn’t fun when I returned. That taught me to protect my possibilities.

I’ve had offers for incredible opportunities come my way throughout my career. Like, crazy stuff. If I told you about some of them, you might not even believe me. I’m talking trips around the world, television appearances, up close access to celebrities, hosting events in amazing locations – crazy crazy stuff that I’ve wanted to shout from the mountain tops as soon as I got the word. I generally don’t talk about this stuff because it isn’t my style, but also, I’ve learned through painful experience that these things don’t always come to fruition. In my experience, it’s best to share these things with no more than five people — and four of those are in my immediate family. And when the awesome thing has happened and I can post pictures and write about what’s happened, I shout it from the rooftops then and bask in the glory.

Lesson number THREE — What is for you, is for YOU. And your day will come.  Know that. OK, so an opportunity fell through. You’re feeling devastated and disappointed. But if you’ve truly worked hard to achieve the thing you were going after or hoping to get, opportunity will come around again. But when it comes around it will be the right thing at the time under the right circumstances with the right people. And you’ll deserve it just as much then. And you might even appreciate the opportunity more, because you know how hard you worked for it, how much you wanted it, and how far you’re gonna knock it out the park because this time is the RIGHT time.

Lesson number FOUR — This is what life is all about, peaks and valleys, joy and sorrow, doing the best you can to achieve your goals and dreams. The most important lesson I’ve learned is to know your worth, and don’t let disappointment defeat you. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, never deny yourself that. But you have to stay positive, and not allow life to make you bitter and angry. Always ask yourself — what lessons can I learn from this experience?

 

Broken Eggs and Shattered Glass

 

On a recent Saturday evening at around midnight, my wife and I were just about to turn out the light and go to sleep when we heard the sounds of a group of people talking in the street, outside our home. Then out of the blue came two loud thuds above our bedroom window, followed by the noise of laughter and people running away down our street.

 

We both jumped out of bed, I turned on the external lights and rushed outside unsure of what had caused the two thuds or what damage I could expect to see. The silence of the night was broken by the distant sound of people laughing and at that moment I was of a mind to chase after them, however, running bare-footed on the road in the dark is not a very wise thing to do.

 

I could hear dripping noises on the driveway and the flood light above our garage helped me to identify just what had happened. Our home had been the victim of an egg bombing!

 

Being faced with the prospect of cleaning up this sticky mess in the early hours of the morning was not a pleasing thought, on top of which I was less than impressed that we had been singled out for this annoying prank. I decided that it was too late to clean up the mess, as it would disturb our neighbours, so it could wait to the morning.

 

Early next morning with a bucket of warm water and scrubbing brush in hand, and with the extension ladder placed on the front wall, I was now ready to wash off what was now two dry yellowish, egg grit impregnated, 1 metre long patches above our front bedroom windows.

My task was made even more challenging by the two large canvas awnings which protect our bedroom windows from the heat and glare of the afternoon sun. My annoyance with the late night pranksters was again building to the level of the night before.

 

After retracting each of the awnings, something we rarely do except when there is are very high winds, I then climbed the ladder to clean up the first patch of egg stain and then move the ladder to clean the second patch.

 

As I climbed the ladder for the second time, I noticed that the glass in a small window just under the roof line was very badly cracked. On closer inspection the crack ran around over half of the outer edge of the window pane. As the awning protected the window, it was clear to me that the damage had not been caused by the egg bombing. As I carefully placed my hand on the glass, I discovered that the pane of glass was very loose and had the window been closed with any force, it would have most likely shattered and the glass dropped to the drive way, some seven metres below.

 

Just a few metres away, we have a basketball ring and on most days of the week there are up to six young people who play in the immediate area, including both my sons. My thoughts immediately turned to what could have happened if the broken glass in the window had gone undetected for much longer and then suddenly shattered. The likelihood of my two sons and their friends being seriously injured was extremely high.

 

After quickly washing the remaining egg stain off the front wall and with the help of Tom, my youngest son, I got to work with some heavy duty masking tape and secured the cracked window as best I could. Within 24 hours the cracked window had been replaced and all was back to normal, except for the small bits of egg shell I kept finding on the front drive way and stuck to our garage doors.

 

Over the next few days, I realised that had our home not been bombarded by those eggs late on that Saturday night, I may not have discovered the broken window pane before it shattered and came down all over our drive way.

Even though it had been an annoyance at time, the broken eggs and the stains were cleaned up very quickly, however, the pain that could have been caused by the shattering of glass would never gone away and would have haunted my wife and myself, forever and a day.

 

The cold shudder that ran down my spine when I first discovered the cracked window and the thought about the consequences of someone being seriously injured or even killed, made me realise just how very lucky we had been.

 

Frequently in life, the small things that happen to us may have a negative impact and cause some form of pain, sadness, discomfort or personal aggravation. It is often said that we should not ‘sweat the small stuff’ and always look for the positive outcome or the silver lining in those dark clouds of the current circumstance, even though at the time that is not always an easy thing to do.

My personal experience with the egg bombing on that Saturday evening reminded me that in most cases there is always a flip side to everything that happens to us and that often the flip side can provide a positive outcome or an even greater benefit, if not now, then at some time in the future.

 

From now on whenever I see or break an egg, I will think of the egg bombing incident and say a thank you to those late night pranksters. Equally, I will always be reminded of Jean-Paul Sartre’s quote:  ‘What is important is not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us’

 

written by Keith Ready

 

http://www.agiftofinspiration.com.au

 

When the message light doesn’t blink

 

Seeing one of her neighbour’s children playing alone, a woman asked him where his brother was. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘he’s in the house playing a duet. I finished first.’

Too many people find themselves playing a duet alone. Too many people are lonely. They rise alone in the morning, they eat meals alone, they watch television alone and retire alone in the evening. They have too few friends and family to share their lives with. It feels as if they should be playing a duet or an ensemble and everyone else finished first. They are more than alone; they are lonely.

‘I don’t have an answering machine,’ one man said.

‘I live alone, and I’m sometimes told that I’ve missed calls when I’ve been out. You should really get an answering machine,’ my friends tell me, but I won’t. I don’t want to come home to find the message light not blinking. I don’t want to know with such certainty that no one tried to get in touch. It’s worth missing a message or two to avoid that.’

A folktale tells of a monarch long ago who had twin sons. There was some confusion about which one was born first. As they grew to young manhood, the king sought a fair way to designate one of them as crown prince.

Calling them to his council chamber one day, he said, ‘My sons, the day will come when one of you must succeed me as king. The burdens of sovereignty are very heavy. To find out which of you is better able to bear them cheerfully, I am sending you together to a far corner of the kingdom. One of my advisors there will place equal burdens on your shoulders. My crown will one day go to the one who first returns bearing his burden like a king should.’

In a spirit of friendly competition, the brothers set out together. Soon they overtook a frail and aged woman struggling under a heavy weight. One of the boys suggested that they stop to help her. The other protested: ‘We have a burden of our own to worry about. Let us be on our way.’

So the second son hurried on while the other stayed behind to help the woman with her load. On his journey to the kingdom’s edge, the same young man found others who needed help. A sightless man who needed assistance home; a lost child whom he carried back to her worried parents; a farmer whose wagon needed a strong shoulder to push it out of the mud.

Eventually he did reach his father’s advisor, where he secured his own burden and started home with it safely on his shoulders. When he arrived back at the palace, his brother met him at the gate and greeted him with dismay. ‘I don’t understand,’ the brother said, ‘I told Father the burden was too heavy to carry. How did you manage it alone?’

The future king replied thoughtfully, ‘I suppose when I helped others carry their burdens, I found the strength to carry my own.’

Isn’t that the secret of living with loneliness? When we find others who need help with their burdens, we also find the strength to carry our own! Get busy helping others, even if it is nothing more than making a phone call or writing an encouraging note, and you’ll find that your burden of loneliness will become easier and easier to manage. And soon you’ll be too happy and busy to even notice if the message light is blinking.

Written by Steve Goodier

Learning to Listen

 

We all know what it’s like to get that phone call in the middle of the night. This night was no different. Jerking up to the ringing summons, I focused on the red, illuminated numbers of my clock. It was midnight and panicky thoughts filled my sleep-dazed mind as I grabbed the receiver.

‘Hello?’ My heart pounded, I gripped the phone tighter and eyed my husband, who was now turning to face my side of the bed. ‘Mum?’ The voice answered. I could hardly hear the whisper over the static. But my thoughts immediately went to my daughter. When the desperate sound of a young crying voice became clear on the line, I grabbed for my husband and squeezed his wrist.

‘Mum, I know it’s late. But don’t … don’t say anything until I finish. And before you ask, yes I’ve been drinking. I nearly ran off the road a few miles back and…’ I drew in a sharp, shallow breath, released my husband and pressed my hand against my forehead. Sleep still fogged my mind, and I attempted to fight back the panic. Something wasn’t right.

‘… and I got so scared. All I could think of was how it would hurt you if a policeman came to your door and said I’d been killed. I want to come home. I know running away was wrong. I know you’ve been worried sick. I should have called you days ago but I was afraid, afraid …’

Sobs of deep-felt emotion flowed from the receiver and poured into my heart. Immediately I pictured my daughter’s face in my mind, and my fogged senses seemed to clear, ‘I think …. ‘

‘No! Please let me finish! Please!’ She pleaded, not so much in anger, but in desperation. I paused and tried to think what to say. Before I could go on, she continued. ‘I’m pregnant, Mum. I know I shouldn’t be drinking now … especially now, but I’m scared, Mum. So scared!’

The voice broke again, and I bit into my lip, feeling my own eyes fill with moisture. I looked up at my husband, who sat silently mouthing, ‘Who is it?’

I shook my head and when I didn’t answer, he jumped up and left the room, returning seconds later with a portable phone held to his ear. She must have heard the click in the line because she asked, ‘Are you still there? Please don’t hang up on me! I need you. I feel so alone.’

I clutched the phone and stared at my husband, seeking guidance. ‘I’m here, I wouldn’t hang up,’ I said. ‘I should have told you, mum. I know I should have told you. But, when we talk, you just keep telling me what I should do. You read all those pamphlets on how to talk about sex and all, but all you do is talk. You don’t listen to me. You never let me tell you how I feel. It is as if my feelings aren’t important. Because you’re my mother you think you have all the answers. But sometimes I don’t need answers. I just want someone to listen.’

I swallowed the lump in my throat and stared at the how-to-talk-to-your-kids pamphlets scattered on my nightstand. ‘I’m listening,’ I whispered.

‘You know, back there on the road after I got the car under control, I started thinking about the baby and taking care of it. Then I saw this phone booth and it was as if I could hear you preaching to me about how people shouldn’t drink and drive. So I called a taxi. I want to come home.’

‘That’s good honey,’ I said, relief filling my chest. My husband came closer, sat down beside me and laced his fingers through mine.

‘But you know, I think I can drive now.’

‘No!’ I snapped. My muscles stiffened and I tightened the clasp on my husband’s hand.
‘Please, wait for the taxi. Don’t hang up on me until the taxi gets there.’

‘I just want to come home, Mum.’

‘I know. But do this for your Mum. Wait for the taxi, please.’

I listened to the silence in fear. When I didn’t hear her answer, I bit into my lip and closed my eyes. Somehow I had to stop her from driving. ‘There’s the taxi now.’ Only when I heard someone in the background asking about a Yellow Cab did I feel my tension easing.

‘I’m coming home, Mum.’ There was a click, and the phone went silent. Moving from the bed, tears forming in my eyes, I walked out into the hall and went to stand in my 16-year-old daughter’s room. My husband came from behind, wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on the top of my head.

I wiped the tears from my cheeks. ‘We have to learn to listen,’ I said to him. He studied me for a second, and then asked, ‘Do you think she’ll ever know she dialled the wrong number?’

I looked at our sleeping daughter, then back at him. ‘Maybe it wasn’t such a wrong number.’

‘Mum, Dad, what are you doing?’ The muffled voice came from under the covers. I walked over to my daughter, who now sat up staring into the darkness. ‘We’re practicing,’ I answered. ‘Practicing what?’ she mumbled and laid back on the mattress, but her eyes already closed in slumber. ‘Listening,’ I whispered and brushed a hand over her cheek.

 http://www.agiftofinspiration.com.au