Survival with a Smile
Persian: A thousand nations of the Persian empire descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun!
Stelios: Then we will fight in the shade.
–From the movie 300.
A little over a week or so ago I was called in a meeting room at my workplace and handed a huge challenge.
I was laid-off.
Since then, I’ve been trying to get my feet underneath me as well as sticking to my strong beliefs that all challenges are actually opportunities. What can be learned? What can be changed? Over the past few weeks, however, this is proving to be a bit difficult.
I’m a firm believer in applying a survival mindset to all of all Life’s challenges, not just situations in the “wilderness.” A lot of things happen when you hear your weekly take home check is going away. Every one of those thoughts have a common denominator of Fear and it’s no different from learning you’re lost twenty miles into the mountains without a map and no food. The physiological responses are the same. Your system is flooded with stress hormones, your vision narrows and, if you get carried away, you can make a mistake. You have to slow down; take stock in what you have. Fear can be overcome. It can be managed, worked with, and if ignored can make your situation worse.
One of the ideas I had straight off was to use this blog as a vehicle for me to chronicle the next steps and as a venue to express what I, and my family, are about to go through. I hesitated at first. Why? Well, the above part about making a mistake by reacting in fear was a big part of that hesitation. Fear is sneaky. After sleeping on it for about six days, I realized that even that hesitation had been brought about by fear. I was worried about what people might think. I was worried I might say the wrong thing or take the wrong tone. I was concerned it might not be taken well.
Then, I realized what I was doing.
I’ve decided to go ahead with it, lay it on the line. My main thought is what better way to show people how to maintain a positive attitude of grounded happiness than to go through something most people do not equate to “pleasant.” There are a lot of challenges in front of me, now more than ever before. The thing about a lot of challenges is that, to me, it can also mean equally rampant opportunity. I can decide to wallow in the enormity of those challenges or I can decide to take a grounded mental attitude and suit up. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be all rosy and pleasant. There are some damn difficult decisions coming up on the financial calendar which are far from “fun.” (One of which will be a hard lesson in learning to let go of some key important but ultimately material items.) What it does mean is that I have to carry a much different attitude about those decisions when the time comes.
The opportunities I have currently? What resources do I have? First off, I have an amazingly supportive wife. I have children that are awesome and who unknowingly (and knowingly) make me smile every day. I have a wide reaching network of friends and allies. In all of those things, I am as wealthy as Midas.
I have more time to focus on multiple things that mean a lot more to me than what I was doing previously. I can get things organized which have been dormant for many years. I can spend more time with my kids before they grow up and fly from the nest. I can get back to more writing. I have an opportunity to take all the things that I have worked on privately and apply it, test it. If me taking the time to get this down helps someone else down the road in a similar position then I think it’s the best possible result of the whole situation. Matter of fact, it’s what Jane McGonigal of “Reality is Broken” would call an “epic win.”
To me, it’s a matter of not accepting the status quo, perhaps taking a hit now in order to be better later, in believing that in the middle of a devastating situation you can find everything you need to come out of it better and stronger then you were before.
It’s about survival with a smile. Or, if all else fails, perhaps just a stalwart grin.
I look forward to being able to post here about the upcoming adventures, the rough struggles and the eventual victories. I won’t promise they’ll be pretty and I’m definitely not going to promise to use nice language. What I will promise is some perspective, some amusement and that, most importantly, we’ll get through this one way or the other.