Several months ago I was talking with a new friend who is also a business consultant. We were attempting to construct a plan for a client in financial and operational distress. Though our approaches were, and are, very different, after several hours of conversation, it was clear that we both wanted the same thing for our customer…success. The consultant himself had recently experienced some severe financial problems due to a failed investment. I was impressed by his upbeat attitude and his ability to talk about this issue with total openness and without the appearance of bitterness. He was even calling on some of his negative experiences to help our mutual client.
Of course, I was curious about his method of handling what apparently had been a real crisis in his life. When I asked him about his outlook in light of the circumstances, he mentioned support from his family, his Christian faith, and help from friends as factors in keeping his attitude positive. He then asked me a strange question. He asked if I knew about the Chinese symbol for “crisis”. I did not. I did not know even the context of the question.
He explained that the symbol for crisis was actually 2 symbols, the first is the symbol for “danger” and the second is the symbol for “opportunity”. He went on to suggest that he had chosen to believe that his crisis would yield new opportunity. He even mentioned that our getting together may not have happened but for his issues.
I have since done some research regarding Chinese symbols and have learned that he may not have been exactly correct in the interpretation of the symbols…but it didn’t matter. He had made a choice. And that choice was working for him. I consider him a success just by the strength of his mindset.
I have written about choices in the past. They are very important. To see someone who has been kicked around by his own choices and yet pick themselves up and move forward with enthusiasm is truly inspiring. That experience reminded me of a quote by Richard Broadhead, the president of Duke University. It goes like this, “We must outlive our darkest day.”
How do we handle adversity? Do our circumstances dictate how we act and feel? Sometimes we don’t have a choice about our circumstances, yet we always have the choice about our attitude. It is easy to feel good in the midst of good times; it is how we act on the rainy days that our true mental toughness is evident.
My new friend is tough…very tough. I want him on my team any time.