We, as individuals, are set apart from one another by, first, how we handle our bad or hurtful experiences, and then,
by the choices we make concerning how we integrate their meaning into 0ur lives and live. The hard times are a fact of life we cannot avoid, but we do have some control over the degree to which they affect us.
W. Clement Stone? Who’s HE?
I want to college with the granddaughter of W. Clement Stone, who began making his fortune during the Great Depression, selling insurance door to door. As you may know, he, along with Napoleon Hill, wrote the book, “Success Through A Positive Attitude.”
A friend and I were very interested in seeing that this book was all about, and obtained a copy. What stands out in my mind, forty years later, is the title of one of the chapters. The title is, “Got a Problem? That’s Good!” After we read the book, these words, which we joked abut a lot, became almost a rallying cry for us, and every time we ran into an obstacle or something we had to circumvent, “Got a problem? That’s good!” became our challenge and the beginning of our solution.
“Got a problem, that’s good!” didn’t lessen our problems or make their impact less. However, by incorporating this mantra into our lives, our relationship to our “problems, trials and tribulations” changed.
Then came a problem larger than any we could have imagined.
That Was A Doozie!!!!
About five months after we read the book, we were both in a car accident. My friend broke his leg, and I experienced a brain injury and was in a coma for a month.
About a week after I awoke from my coma; still trying to figure out what had happened, as well as what was happening, I remember sitting in my hospital room, overlooking the Kennebec River, and thinking to myself that, “Now I have a big problem.” I couldn’t grasp the extent of the problem I had, lying in the bed, unable to walk, talk clearly, tie my shoes, cut my food, or remember what I had for breakfast that morning, but it was obvious this problem would be a major test for me.
Certainly, it was not a good problem have, but it would be up to me to make it into something other than a problem; by the way I approached and lived my life. I even remember thinking that, “Now my life has meaning.”
Whereas before, I was your typical college student, fighting for grades so I can get a good job or go to graduate school, now I had undergone something that would define me as a human being.
I was 19 years old when my car crash happened, and I’m 60 now. I can’t tell you whether I was an optimistic person before my car accident, but I can tell you that this “negative” event in my life was a turning point for me. It gave me a mission, circumstances I would need to rise above, and a reason to live my life beyond my own well-being.
This Is What We Were Built For…
Certainly, a TBI can have awful, life changing consequences, but facing these is what we, as human beings, were made for. If we don’t give best to facing our challenges, then why are we here?
I started living for all the people who were in situations like mine, and all the people who struggled through their lives against great odds. I was proving to myself that I could have a problem, even a big problem, and I could find a way to live a fulfilled life. Maybe I could learn to help others.
There have been many subsequent problems over the last 40 years, and to be honest I haven’t faced them all the way I would’ve liked. However, in general, W. Clement Stone’s words have stayed in my mind, reminding me every time I had a problem, despite what I might have thought at the time, that this was really a good thing; it was up to me to show how.
Sure, my life had taken a detour, but it hadn’t stopped, and now it would be measured, not by “old definitions” of success, but how I grew and lived my life. Of course I needed to be able to take the long term view to be able to appreciate that. I couldn’t be looking for instant gratification, or for immediate success.
I also saw that it was important to believe in something. W. Clement Stone happened to be there when I needed that something, and provided me with the strength I needed to persevere through whatever came up.
Failure and struggle can bare fruit; but you need to be mentally prepared for the ups and downs and the time it takes to flower and ripen. That was something I was a richer person for. My life became more rewarding and meaningful than I ever could have imagined, and it was all because when I had a problem, I said, “That’s good!!” “
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