A Lesson in Adversity

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Charles Swindoll and includes the line, “I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” I’ve tried hard over the years to follow this notion; there are moments when I have succeeded and moments I’ve wished for a do-over so I could re-react with brilliance.  The moments that are most intriguing to me though, are those times when things don’t go my way, but as a result of that hardship, something even better is allowed to happen.  I recently heard how this happened in someone else’s life and it was so impactful for me to hear, I wanted to share it with you.

About a month ago I was in New York for a business meeting.  It was my first time in the city and at some point during the day, our discussions turned into recounts of “where were you (on 9/11)”.  All of the stories I heard in that room were touching, but there was one in particular that I’ve been replaying in my head ever since:

For the purpose of this story, I will call the subject Amy.  Amy was a young 20-something advertising professional living in Manhattan & working in the heart of New York City.  A dream scenario for young advertisers and she was loving every second of it.  Well, until the morning of September 10, 2001.  Amy walked into her office inside the World Trade Center that Monday morning only to walk out shortly after with her personal belongings and a pink slip in her hand.  She was devastated and that is probably an understatement.  She called her parents in tears and questions of uncertainty filled the phone line: “What am I going to do?” “How am I going to pay my rent?”

You can probably tell where I’m going with this - the next day, 9/11 happened and the very place she should have been that day was unthinkably destroyed.  One day she was thinking “what did I do to deserve this?” and the next day she was probably thinking the same thing, just in a different context.  The magnitude of her story hit me hard and I started applying her situation to my own life, in much less scale.  When has something bad or unexpected happened to me that has turned out to be a blessing in disguise?  What was my initial reaction to that situation?  It’s hard to keep a clear perspective when you’re going through a rough patch; you don’t have the ability to see what’s coming next.  I hope that the next time I am faced with a situation that seems overwhelming I can look back on Amy’s story and remember the important message her experience taught me.  “Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.”

Next time you are faced with adversity, how will you react?