In the last post, we discussed the ‘Circle of Concern’, made smaller by the ‘Circle of Influence’1. I will likely discuss this further in a later post, but for now I promised to reflect on what I coin ‘Turning Adversity into Adventure’. This simple slogan helped my wife and me to change our paradigm and ease the stress of a pending layoff. It worked so well, I have used it several times when faced with problems that seemed to be moving outside my circle of influence, but was clearly well planted in my growing circle of concerns.
Air Canada was going through a pilot downsizing and after 7 years of service, my seniority had withered so that I was no longer on the active pilot list. Initially there was job sharing, but my days were numbered. A layoff seemed imminent and we needed to make some plans.
I drew out a worst-case scenario. It foretold of a forced move to Toronto and then possibly losing the position anyway in further downsizing. So, I proposed an alternative approach to my family. I suggested that if furloughed, we sell the house, cars, toys, etc. – and home school our two boys – aged 10 and 7 – on a sailboat we would live aboard in the Caribbean. Crazy? Perhaps. Doable?
We were going to find out.
We started to research and spoke with friends who had chosen this lifestyle and we made a startling discovery.
The ongoing dream building not only inspired us, but also relieved our stress about the lesser alternatives. It was this dreaming and planning that made the situation no longer unbearable but truly exciting and wondrous. Whether we went for it or not, didn’t matter. (Spoiler alert!) In fact we never did go. Aw! It didn’t matter. The exercise of daring to dream, to take control of our own destiny, to never allow the bad cards sent our way ruin our dreams, enabled us to find new paths of joy and fulfillment. It was my Grandfather that instilled this fantasy-like imagination in my Mom, which I suppose was then passed on to me. I firmly believe that fantasy should be taken very seriously and can often be translated into a reality beyond any normal expectation.
That adventure came close. Others did materialize and these transformed our world in ways that could have only been possible by taking the courage to dream big. In later stories, I will share some incredible adventures that occurred precisely as a result of this philosophy and practice.
What adversity have you experienced and how did you cope?
Note: I appreciate that some life events are so horrific and debilitating that the motivation required to turn them around is beyond most expectations. For those my heart goes out and perhaps this is not the strategy we would choose. But when you can find an alternative to external circumstances that seem to oppress or direct your life in the wrong path, then perhaps the thought – and practice – of taking the helm and steering for adventure is just what you need.
I welcome your comments below.
1. Stephen Covey – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People