Life throws challenges at you from time to time. You cannot control what happens to you, but you certainly can control your response to what happens to you. This is the essence of personal mastery– an ability to make conscious decisions about how to chart the course of your life and navigate through the challenges. The tree of life challenges and tragedy produces different fruits – you only need to choose which fruits to pick. Fruits of bitterness, discouragement, bitterness or fruits of learning, experience and encouragement? It’s your choice. Victory is not always clothed in the purple of royal pageantry, sometimes it comes in the blood caked clothes of gallantry. True peace is not living in perpetual calm, but having faith throughout the storms.
I would like to share with you the story of a young 27 year old British lady who passed away a few days ago. Jade Goody discovered about a year ago that she had cervical cancer. The doctors tried chemotherapy and surgery, but it was too late. They told her she had two months to live. Her response to this was remarkable. She decided there and then that she was going to make the most of the few remaining months of her life. As a single mother of two, she realised the need to leave a decent inheritance to allow her two young kids a decent education and raise cancer awareness. I want to share a few points from this true story.
Face The Facts
Jade accepted the reality that she had a terminal illness. There is a different between self denial and faith. Faith does not deny the facts. Faith believes in spite of the facts. There is a faith to resist the conditions, but there is also a faith to go through the conditions. Your condition might not be a terminal illness; it could be a cancerous financial problem, a haemoragghing business, a hypertensive relationship, a rickety marriage or an arthritic career.
The first step to addressing the problem is to identify the problem by its name. The longer you stay in self denial, the more the problem multiplies and the less you focus on addressing it. Jade accepted she was terminally ill, and took immediate steps to put her life in order.
Certainty in Uncertain Times
The storms of life are periods of uncertainty. Inaction is the riskiest response to the uncertainties which storms bring. But rash or scattershot action can be nearly as damaging. Rising anxiety and the growing pressure to do something often produces a variety of uncoordinated moves that target the wrong problem or overshoot the right one. A disorganised response can also generate a sense of panic. This can easily distract you from seeing the often hidden but significant opportunities nestled in the storm. You create certainty by taken action. This action is through taking a defensive or offensive positions.
The position you take in the storms determines whether you weather or get swept away by the storm. Jade chose to take a position in her situation of uncertainty by creating certainty. She even planned the details of her own funeral. Her final two months were days of specific and certain progressive actions.
Redeeming The Time
Jade was told she had two months to live and she decided to make the most of that little time. In those two months she had a wedding and went through the marriage ceremony heavily sedated by morphine to ease the pain. She fulfilled a lifelong dream to be a bride and marry her boyfriend. She also organised for herself and her two sons to be christened in church. In between the pain, she also had paid interviews with magazines and made hundred thousands of pounds for her kids. She could have easily chosen to pity party and wallow in crippling sympathy but she chose to make the best of her worst time in life. In the last two months of her life she made enough money to see her children through school. The lesson is that you must allow the storms of life to strengthen your resolve and not cripple you. Maximise the moment and savour the opportunity to make a difference.
Ride The Storm
What do you do when clouds gather and storms come? Run for cover? Lets learn from the eagles. Eagles love the storm. When clouds gather, the eagles get excited. The eagle uses the storm’s winds to lift it higher. Once it finds the wing of the storm, the eagle uses the raging storm to lift him above the clouds. This gives the eagle an opportunity to glide and rest its wings. In the meantime all the other birds hide in the leaves and branches of the trees. When life gives you clouds, make some rain and gives you a storm, ride on it! There is an opportunity in every opposition. There is a testimony in every test. The darkest clouds yield the greatest rain. Your breaking point is your breakthrough moment. When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade. When life throws hard stuff at you, use it to make a firm foundation for your future success.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is – Albert Einstein