My earliest mentor, W. Clement Stone, was once described as an inverse paranoid. Instead of believing the world was plotting to do him harm, he chose to believe the world was plotting to do him good. Instead of seeing every difficult or challenging event as a negative, he saw it from what it could be – something that was meant to enrich him, empower him, or advance his causes.
What an incredible positive belief! Imagine how much easier it would be to succeed in life if you were constantly expecting the world to support you and bring you opportunity. Successful people do just that. In fact, there is growing research that the vibrations of positive expectation that successful people give off actually attract to them the very experiences they believe they are going to get. Suddenly, obstacles and negatives are seen not as just another example of “Gee, the world hates me,” but as opportunities to grow and change and succeed.
If your car suddenly breaks down on the side of the road, instead of imagining a serial rapist pulling over to take advantage of you, think of the possibility that the guy who stops to help you will be the man you fall in love with and marry. If your company downsizes you out of a job, suddenly the chances are good that you’ll find your dream job with more opportunity at much better pay. If you develop cancer, the possibility exists that in the process of reorganising your life to effect a cure, you’ll create a more healthy balance in your life and rediscover what’s important to you.
Think about it. Was there a time in your life when something terrible happened that later became a blessing in disguise? “Every negative event contains within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit,” says Napoleon Hill.
The big blessing for me came in the 1970s when they closed the Job Corps Centre in Clinton, Iowa, where I worked as a curriculum development specialist pioneering radical new learning systems for teaching underachieving students. I had unlimited support from the administration, I was working with an exciting team of bright young people who shared the same vision of making a difference, and I really enjoyed my work.
Then, out of the blue, the government decided to relocate the centre. It meant I would lose my job for at least six months. At first, I was upset at the decision, but while attending a workshop at the W. Clement & Jesse V. Stone Foundation in Chicago, I shared my predicament with the leader, who happened to be the vice president of the foundation. As a result, he offered me a job. “We’d love to have someone like you who have experience with inner-city black and Hispanic kids. Come work for us.”
They gave me more money, an unlimited budget, the ability to attend any workshop, training, or convention that I wanted – and I was not working directly with W. Clement Stone, who had introduced me to these success principles to begin with.
And yet, when they first announced the relocation of the Job Corps Centre and my being laid off, I was angry, scared, and despondent. I thought it was the end of the world. I thought it was a bad thing. Instead, it turned out to be the major turning point of my life. In less than three months, my life had gone from good to great. For two years, I worked with some of the most amazing people I have ever met before I left to enter a doctoral programme in psychological education at the University of Massachusetts.
Now, when anything “bad” happens, I remember that everything that ever happens to me has within it the seed of something better. I look for the upside rather than the downside. I ask myself, “Where’s the greater benefit in this event?”
I’m sure that you, too, can think back to several times in your life when you thought what had happened was the end of the world – you flunked a class, lost your job, got divorced, experienced the death of a friend or a business failure, had a catastrophic injury or illness, your house burnt down – and later you realised it was a blessing in disguise. The trick is to realise that whatever you are going through now is going to turn out better in the future as well. So look for the lemonade in the lemons. The more you begin to look for the good, the sooner and more often you will find it. And if you take the attitude that it is coming, the less upset and discouraged you’ll get while you’re waiting for it.
Captain Jerry Coffee was a pilot who was shot down during the Vietnam War. He spent seven years as a prisoner of war in some of the most hellish conditions known to humankind. He was beaten, became malnourished, and was kept in solitary confinement for years. But if you ask him how he feels about that experience, he would tell you that it was the most powerful transformational experience of his life.
As he entered his cell for the first time, he realised he would be spending a lot of time alone. He asked himself, “How can I use this experience to my advantage?” He told me that he decided to see it as an opportunity rather than as a tragedy – an opportunity to get to know both himself and God – the only two beings he’d be spending time with – better.
Culled from HOW TO GET FROM WHERE YOU ARE TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE by JACK CANFIELD