He contracted a potentially life threatening illness (Meningitis) which took him three years to fully recover from.
Just as he was getting over that he required a major surgery which took him off his feet for six months. He wasn’t able to work or participate in normal everyday family life during that time.
He was just back on his feet after that when he was involved in a serious car crash (you can read more on that in Lessons from a wake up call). It took him a few months to recovery fully.
All three of those things happened back to back over a five year period.
It was a challenging few years. There were many dark times. It was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting.
There were times during that period that were so hard and painful that it felt like climbing a mountain strewn with broken glass on your hands and knees.
Yet whilst we would never have chosen those experiences for our family, we are better because of them.
We learnt a lot about ourselves. It gave us more clarity than we had ever had before about the life we wanted as we moved forward.
As we emerged from those dark times, life didn’t return to what it was before. It moved in new, more fulfilling directions. Our lives ended up much better because of those dark times we had navigated – in so many ways and on so many different levels.
During tough times it is helpful to keep these three things in mind:
1. When the brown stuff hits the fan there is always an opportunity lurking in there somewhere.
It is hard to believe this if you are in the middle of navigating a tough time.
But I encourage you to challenge yourself to look hard for what the opportunity is.
Maybe it is an opportunity to learn something. Maybe it is an opportunity to grow as a person. Maybe it is an opportunity to change your life in some way. Maybe it is a turning point to create more fulfillment and meaning in your life.
I know from experience that seeing the opportunity during tough times can be easier said than done. But you can do it. Commit to finding a way.
2. Your tough times will serve you in ways in the future that you can’t imagine at the time.
During the tough times I mentioned above, I was working with Pamela Slim on some changes in my business. I struggled like hell with my work during those challenging years. Pam was a great support.
During a telephone call at a particularly dark time, Pam said to me “these dark times are going to serve you in really positive ways in the future that you can’t see right now.”
She was right. It is no exaggeration to say that in the months and years that followed those five difficult years, all areas of our lives transformed for the better as a direct result of what we went through.
If you are navigating tough times, it might seem never ending right now. It might seem that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But hold on tight to the fact that after dark always comes light.
That reminds me of one of my favourite quotes:
“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.” – Sara Henderson
3. You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can always choose how you respond.
Be careful not to get stuck in a pity party. It will keep you stuck. You might not have chosen the situation. But you do have a choice how you respond and deal with it. Choose wisely.
When you are navigating tough times, keep those three things in mind and look for how you could use them to support you as you move forward.