Allowing Obstacles to Transform You

Grief can be the garden of comObstacles Transform_Julypassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. – Rumi

Think how you reacted to your own past challenges, and how your friends, family or colleagues reacted to theirs. You will notice positive and negative responses. Learn from them – notice which ones were helpful, and which ones caused sadness or stress – and adapt them to your situation, should the need arise.

Toyota belatedly recalled 2.3 million vehicles because of faulty brakes in October 2014. Many complaints and lawsuits were filed. It appeared as if the Toyota brand would be tarnished for years to come. Instead of only issuing press statements and giving interviews, Toyota quickly responded by offering a live conversation on one of the most popular communities on the web: Digg (despite the community behind Digg generally being quite hostile to corporations).

While the fallout from the recalls was massive, Toyota’s openness greatly helped to minimize the damage to the company’s reputation. Toyota’s decision to face the misfortune allowed customers to maintain their confidence in the company.

Many Texas banks were failing in the late 1980s, and TD Industries was hurt greatly by lack of funds. The company leadership informed employees that instead of filing for bankruptcy, they were going to pay out the Defined Retirement Plan to its employees, and asked employees to use that money to reinvest in the company.

Because of the company’s transparency and trust in their employees, they responded by investing 30 percent more than the company asked for. The money helped stabilize the company and they weathered the rough financial spell. TD Industries has consistently been on Forbes’ Best Companies to Work for list.

Challenge yourself with the following “How to” exercises

  1. THIS too shall pass. Whatever is happening now is temporary. Ask yourself: How is this problem going to impact me 10, 20 or 50 years from now? This approach works for both business and personal tragedies.
  2. RESPOND as positively as possible. In any situation, it’s your choice to be positive or negative. It may be hard to be positive, but it will help you process the tragedy more quickly, and learn lessons from it, too.
  3. ASK how the tragedy offers opportunity. Sometimes from breakdowns come breakthroughs!
  4. CREATE meaning from loss. If you have lost someone, ask how you can honor them by helping others.
  5. EVERYTHING given in this life is given as a gift. When it’s gone, it’s a good memory to be grateful for. It was never really yours.
  6. ASK yourself how crying, feeling guilty or depressed will help you overcome the problem. It’s important to process your feelings, but dwelling on them is counterproductive.
  7. EVERYTHING happens for the highest good even though it may not appear to be so at the moment. Ask yourself: what can I do to turn this challenge or obstacle into an opportunity? For example, if you got fired from a job, you now have an opportunity to study, pursue your dream job, or travel for a few months. So either you take one of these opportunities or wallow in self-pity. The former advances you, the latter is destructive.
  8. WHEN something negative happens, know that you have been endowed with the capacity to overcome it. Are you tapping into your enormous capacity to handle these challenges?

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