Following up on last week’s “every curse a blessing, every blessing a curse” theme, there are things in life that you simply CANNOT be grateful for.
My brother was murdered by a neighbor, shot in cold blood as he was getting in his van to go to work one morning, along with my niece, both of whom didn’t survive – it’s impossible to be grateful for that, and I haven’t found any “good” or blessings that’s come from it. Only sadness and heartbreak. When children are raped, physically tortured or killed, what “good” comes of that? Or when genuinely good people die of cancer or accidents that are no fault of their own, where is the “good” in that? Should we be expected to be grateful it wasn’t worse?
This is why I can’t choke out the statement “Everything happens for a reason,” often said by people as a way of reframing a bad thing that has happened in an attempt to find some meaning in the event that can help us cope with the losses. Sometimes that “reason” is because there are supremely selfish, irresponsible, evil turd bags living among us who have no soul, no brain and no common decency who should be burned at the stake. Sometimes you’re just in the wrong damned place at the wrong damned time or suffer a truly random strike nobody could see coming or prevent. With some of life’s events, there is no “good” reason for them happening.
Jordan Peterson, bestselling author of 12 Rules for Life, is 100% correct in his statement that life IS suffering and tainted with malevolence. If you don’t take on personal responsibility for yourself and others as a means for finding purpose, life will suck you down into a pit of misery where a bad situation can turn into Hell – and Hell is referred to as the “bottomless pit” for a reason. There’s no bad situation that can’t be made worse.
That responsibility should be, initially, for yourself so you don’t become a burden to others. That’s why Peterson’s “clean your room” rule is more than just a metaphor: it’s a literal statement about starting out small in taking responsibility for at least one area of your domain – but it shouldn’t end there.
Real purpose and meaning in life are found in taking responsibility for others – your children, your family, your employees and co-workers, clients and community. In making it your personal responsibility to make a positive difference in the world and allow others to depend on you, lifting their burdens. This is why charitable giving benefits the giver far more than the person receiving it. Lifting or lessening someone’s suffering is a gift we give that gives back to us tenfold.
But as I’ve often said, you cannot fix the world with broken hands, so we must stiffen OUR spines and strengthen our “hands” so that we have the ability to help others and have a real, lasting, positive impact. This is where so many protesters get it wrong. Standing in a picket line with a sign doesn’t do diddly-squat for saving the turtles or changing the “system” you don’t like. It might feel like you’re doing something, but all you’re accomplishing is annoying everyone else around you. If you truly stand for a cause and want to make a difference, go and pick up trash, volunteer at a shelter, donate money or take some other action to make the change – don’t just stand there screaming like a Karen, demanding everyone else do something or change their behavior.
Positive action is how you deal with the hardships of life. We must become the person who can, as Timex famously coined, “take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.’” The reality is that most folks can’t. They’re easily broken, dissuaded and deterred. Easily put off their chosen path, easily frightened into inaction. Easily lulled into an acceptance of their situations.
This IS what separates successful entrepreneurs from the rest of the world. While everyone else sucks their thumbs and settles in for a “long winter’s nap” when things go wrong, tough-minded entrepreneurs go to work and take on the burden and responsibility to BE the change, not wait for the change to happen, the clouds to part, the sun to shine. Like the Monty Python knight, we stand our ground and fight on with missing arms and legs, screaming, “It’s only a flesh wound!”
We do NOT have to be grateful for every bad thing that comes along – but if we want to be truly successful in life (and especially in business), we must take all bad things that happen head-on and embrace the full responsibility of making the damned lemonade. We do NOT have to whistle while we work, but work we must – striving, pushing, pulling and pounding through the obstacles others won’t, going toe-to-toe with whatever bully, ogre or demon we have standing in our path to make the most of what we’ve been handed.
This IS the price of the success you want. Don’t forget it.
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