Sometimes we can get stuck in thinking things that happen are random, uncertain or chaotic. And sometimes we get stuck in looking for THE reason behind every event. Yet there is a question that can shift our mindset and unlock potential and possibility where at first we saw nothing.
Let say we look at an event through the lens of random and chaos it can leave you exhausted, overwhelmed, and disorientated. This ultimately leaves us feeling powerless to the event. At the mercy of what is.
What if you looked at the event through the lens of “everything happens for a reason, AND it’s designed to serve us”.
The event is still the event, and yet viewing it through a different lens gives us different options. This particular lens invokes curiosity. Curiosity is a powerful state and keeps us more resourceful. When we’re more resourceful we feel more powerful. Like we do have a fighting chance of sorting things out, or improving a situation.
Over the years I’ve noticed that I can wear either pair of glasses (I have more pairs too, but lets keep this simple).
The only thing about the random glasses is learning to take them off as soon as you realise they’re the ones you’re looking through.
Now the “everything happens for a reason and it’s designed to serve you” pair – they’re a keeper.
Here’s the secret though. For years I’d run the whole sentence… what’s the reason this is happening. And then, how is it designed to serve me.
Super speedy fast track alert. You can do the above and there is a faster way. Just ask yourself “how is this event designed to serve me?”. Or “what’s good about this?” Or “where’s the opportunity here?”
These latter questions get to the heart of the matter.
We rarely need to know what the reason is.
OK part of us always loves to know the reason. And there lies the trap, because we want to know THE reason. Like there is only ONE and until we’ve found IT then cripes alive we may not really know how the event is designed to serve us. We might have missed something, or be off down the wrong rabbit hole.
You see our mind likes to solve puzzles. If we think something is random our mind attempts to bring order. If there is A reason we want to find it, and like good old Sherlock Holmes we won’t stop until we do.
And so if you want to make the most of the everything happens for a reason, the power part lies in solving the question “how does this event serve me?”
And when it’s an undesirable event and we’re processing our disappointment we’re perhaps going to quip back the answer “it’s not”. And we shut down. And feel sorry for ourselves. Or pessimistic. And reach for the sugar/ caffeine/ nicotine/ alcohol/ online shopping fix.
You may have heard me say before, the quality of the question determines the quality of the answer. And some questions don’t have instant answers. They’re like onions, and clarity comes in layers.
If we can stay curious long enough there is always an answer. In some cases the full extent of how an event serves you is revealed, several layers later – often called hindsight and we have that aha moment.
Now I’m not suggesting that instantly after every event, or even during, we ask ourselves “what’s good about this”. An event can be a complex moment, and we should absorb the richness and complexity. If there is grief in the event, process the grief, if there is frustration acknowledge what’s frustrating. Skipping all of this to ask “what’s good” would be like picking up a book and only reading the first and last chapter.
Now going a little deeper on “what’s good” – don’t expect good to equal pleasurable, happy or joy. Let me illustrate, about 30 years ago I was in a RTA and suffered a lot of broken bones etc. I’ll spare you all the details. It did however take 2 years of operations and physiotherapy to get back full use of my right arm and hand. And at the time of the accident I was a right handed analytical chemist. Shortly afterwards I learned to be a left handed analytical chemist. And then ambidextrous.
Some of what was good about the 2 hour daily physio sessions was I was learning to use my hand again. Some sessions came with tears of pain, eventually leading to sessions with tears of joy. And the latter wouldn’t have happened if I’d quit on the pain.
Some of what was good about the accident was re-thinking a few choices I had been making.
And one of the things that was good about the accident was I realised just how easily I could have lost my life. ( and no that’s not me being a drama lama, both police and doctors told me how close and lucky I was). I now had a greater appreciation for life. I no longer saw it as a guaranteed stretched out, I’ve got the next 50+ years to make things happen, all the time in the world sort of thing. I learned to appreciate this moment. Stuff I’d worried about suddenly had perspective. I really understood the saying don’t sweat the small stuff.
30 years later there is still something good about the accident. At the time I was told I’d never work again in any capacity, the assumption being I’d never get any use back in my right hand and arm. Fortunately the people who said that were wrong. So now when something happens and it looks like it’s stopping me in my tracks; That whilst I may not see a way forward and it might look a lot like my dreams are dashed and life as hoped for will be impossible. I remind myself that 30 years ago a younger, far less wise girl was in a similar situation and look what’s happened since.
It didn’t stop me then, it’s not stopped me since and it’s certainly not going to stop me now.
Curiosity and determination are a powerful cocktail.
Now if I’d thought the event was random – and fortunately in the last 30 years there have been no more RTA’s with any injuries, so it would look like a random event. However if that’s how I’d have viewed it at the time, would I have got quite so much value from what happened. I doubt it.
And so as you look at what’s going on in your life, leadership, team, business now. Are you viewing it as random / chaos? Or have you poured yourself a large glass of curiosity and determination with a chink of hope and a slice of optimism?
So when things are looking like they could be random or there is too much chaos, pause and ask yourself “what could be good about this?”
Until next time