The Gift of Life-Changing Events

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-- Robert Frost

I recently commenced an executive coaching program, which has a heavy concentration on the intersection of mind, body, and spirit. The program emphasizes coaching the "whole person." As part of the learning experience, the cohort goes through quite a bit of self-acknowledgement and reflection. It's an amazing experience, and has given me a lot to ponder.

One of the recent exercises was to identify a "watershed" moment, or one of those events that significantly changed your life. In a small group, we shared each other's moments. It was moving, it was powerful, it was vulnerable, and significantly resonated with me.

On the surface, it wasn't always apparent that a seismic shift was happening. But each of us seemed to know something was awry. I know in my case that I did, even if I wasn't willing to acknowledge it. And in all the cases, life presented us with people and events that forced us to make a choice. We identified that the more we were open to positive change, the more we became attuned to the signs around us. In no case was the choice simple, or the lesson to be learned easy.

What I learned in this group is that every watershed moment -- despite any differences in the content -- demonstrated a period of loss, even if the loss was for the greater good. We also learned that in all of our cases, life presented us with a fork in the road or a wake-up call when we most needed it. And in each of our situations, it was our decision to notice it or not. It was our choice to grab the opportunity that was gifted to us and use it for personal growth. And as we also learned in the class -- if we decided to ignore the opportunity or not choose the path, life would present the path again. It's funny like that. You can't ignore the universe giving you what you need at the exact time you need it. You can't stay comfortable if you expect to grow.

Now switching to my perspective. I know through my own personal watershed moment, that it wasn't until much later that I realized it indeed was a life changing event. It reminds me of the Stanford commencement address given by Steve Jobs in 2005:

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Indeed. My dots connected when I reflected backwards on that time. It's what I needed to go through for growth. As tough as it was, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I received so much good from it on the other side, and appreciate that good frequently. I swallow hard and admit I needed the "bad" to get the "good."

The universe often provides life-changing moments for us. It's our choice of how to grow from it. Watch for them, and seize the opportunity when it presents itself. It will be difficult and uncomfortable and fearful and vulnerable. But if you are open and receptive to change, notice the signs around you. Because they will come. It's up to you to accept their gifts.