In our culture, we have clichs to describe the idea of staying positive, even when facing great challenges. “Everything works out for the best.” “If it’s meant to be, it will happen.” While many people believe at some level that “things happen for a reason.” Adopting this mindset can be more than a set of platitudes; it can be a significant step toward a positive future.
If it really is true that that everything works out for the best, then every situation is perfect in some way.
For an example, take Zach. Zach was an attorney who learned his business partner, Kareem, was leaving the practice. Zach and Kareem had built a business from scratch; he thought growing it big was what they both wanted. But people change. Kareem wanted to join a bigger firm, not build one. Zach tried everything to help Kareem see the possibilities, and he tried to see every possibility for himself. But Kareem’s answer was no. After the emotions subsided (anger, resentment, denial, and determination), Zach took the practice over by himself. “Well, at least one positive thing came out of this,” Zach thought as he signed the documents. “Now I get to be president.”
But Zach got to be a lot more than that. As he started to shoulder the practice, he became more confident as a businessman. He took the practice in his own direction. He made bold decisions, branched out and hired more attorneys. The business grew, as did his reputation and profits. Best of all, he maintained a friendship with Kareem. Zach didn’t know when Kareem said “no” to the business that the business was saying “yes” to Zach.
A situation that at first seems to be a disaster can actually turn out to be perfect, and looking for the perfect is especially helpful when you get an untimely surprise. Here are three questions to ask yourself to look for the perfect in every situation, and to help you stay positive during challenging times:
- Recall a time in your life when you got a “no” or “yes” that you weren’t expecting.
- How did the situation work out?
- In hindsight, what was perfect?
Believing life might be perfect as it is doesn’t mean you play a passive role in your life. You are still leading your life; you are still becoming the leader you want to be and creating your vision. But you’re doing so with an open mind, realizing that for reasons we don’t understand, some things might be “right” for us that we wouldn’t have chosen for ourselves. Other things might be “wrong” for us even if we thought they were right. Sometimes we find the opportunities we’re looking for, but other times those opportunities find us. By asking yourself the three questions above, you’re helping those opportunities to find you.
The previous article appeared on Inc.com today as a part of my column, “Behind The Desk.” Look out for new columns every week!