Grace in the face of adversity
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Iron Mike Tyson
Today’s article was inspired by a man known far more for his actions than his words, and yet it conveys a simple truth – it is not what happens to you that defines you, it is how you respond to it that makes you who you are.
Simply put, none of us ever plan to have a bad day, a bad week, a bad year … but yet it happens.
A year ago today we began to hear stories of a strange new illness in China. Who among us would have believed that our lives would be significantly, perhaps permanently, altered by a virus that was transferred to humans by an animal that most of us have never heard of, and a name we can’t pronounce.
I have long known of something called the “chaos theory butterfly effect” first postulated by Edward Lorenz.
To quote Wikipedia: “It is the idea that small causes can have large effects in complex or non-linear dynamic systems.”
In layman’s terms, it represents the idea that something as tiny and seemingly insignificant as a butterfly flapping its wings in South America today can ultimately cause a tornado in Kansas several weeks later.
To be honest, prior to the arrival of Covid-19 if you had asked me what I thought of this idea I would have dismissed it as a bunch of nonsense but now …
Let’s just say that this pandemic has me rethinking lots of things and maybe the most valuable thing that I have gained from my experiences this past year is a new appreciation of the value of remaining positive and fluid at the same time.
Far from resisting change or trying to control every aspect of my environment, I have been experimenting with what I am going to call “flexible consciousness”.
To me this is the notion that while I am going to acknowledge that the appearance of an obstacle (aka the “punch”) has temporarily blocked my progress or thrown my intended plan into such disarray that it even causes pain, I’m not going to mind because, what is a journey into uncharted territory without adversity?
Instead of focusing on the pain and feeling sorry for myself that things have not worked out as intended, I can decide to intentionally focus on the horizon and look for a way forward.
Some might be tempted to dismiss this idea as naive, but to me this is just being realistic.
After all, a road without potholes is just a treadmill. You might think that you are covering a lot of ground with ease, but if nothing new ever happens, how do you know that you are actually making progress?
And conversely, if you do get knocked down and you stay there, how can you be sure that your circumstances won’t change if you pick yourself up and carry on?
Life has always been a roller-coaster for all of us. We just never reckoned that the roller-coaster would climb so high or more appropriately, swing so very, very low. Yet it has. And the reality is that we have discovered new ways to handle the ups and downs of life.
While Covid-19 has proven to be persistent and longer that we originally anticipated, we have remarkably adjusted well. Illness and especially loss of life is a horrible aspect of this disease. We sympathise with those affected but we know that the storm will pass, and we will live again calmer waters. Helping each other and maintaining a state of grace in the face of adversity is the foundation.
Robin Trimingham is the chief operating officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a virtual presenter, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/olderhoodgroup1/ or email@example.com