As I reflected on the events of the past few weeks and watched previously scheduled workshops get postponed indefinitely, it would have been easy to panic and worry about finances moving forward. To be completely transparent, I will be the first one to admit that my thoughts immediately went to discretionary expenses that could be cut and steps I could take to stretch what I have until the coronavirus becomes another distant memory. But then I realized I was asking myself the wrong questions. I am embarrassed to say that my approach was firmly rooted in a scarcity mentality—that disease in which we convince ourselves there isn’t enough of some precious resource. Money, love, and time are the three most common.
I have worked hard in my adult life to cure myself of this disease—and make no mistake, a scarcity mentality is a disease. It changes our behavior. It changes the way we view the world. And worst of all, it has a direct negative, impact on our happiness. Even when you think you have adopted an abundance mentality, scarcity thinking can reemerge unexpectedly as it did for me over the past few weeks.
While contingency plans are certainly important, there is a far more challenging question I am now asking myself. Believe it or not, the answer came more quickly than I expected.
The question is simple to state but may require a high degree of creativity, introspection, and openness to answer:
What is the gift in this experience?
In asking this question, I am in no way minimizing the trauma, pain, and even death experienced by the most susceptible among us. Instead, my question is intended for those us who will likely experience minimal physical impact.
The question itself was inspired by the recognition that in many cases our most traumatizing challenges come with a gift. In some cases, many gifts.
Five years ago, the lymphoma diagnosis that my Dad once told me would have been a death sentence when he was in medical school, brought enormous gifts I never expected. The love and connection I experienced as a result of my walk with the tumors opened my heart in a way that otherwise would never have happened. Without question, the tumors, as scary as they were, brought the biggest gifts I’ve ever experienced.
A few years ago, when I had the courage to leave a position that was not a fit for a wide range of personal and professional reasons, part of me was terrified because I had no idea how or when my next paycheck would arrive. However, once I had the courage to leave, the speed at which abundance showed up stunned me. I gave notice at 6:15pm on a Thursday. At 6am Friday morning, less than 12 hours later, a client I hadn’t talked to in several years sent an email and hired me for a project that covered my expenses for the next six months. It literally left me feeling as if I had spent the previous few months leaning against the door of abundance trying to keep it shut.
I could share many more examples, but the point is not about the past. The point is about our future. We have an important choice to make right now. Are we going to focus on fear or are we going to focus on possibility? Are we going to focus on scarcity or abundance?
At this point, I have two important requests. First, when you discover the gifts in this experience—and you will when you remain open—please share them. Few things would make me happier than seeing positive outcomes from this very challenging situation. Second, if you got value out of this post and find this idea worth sharing, please do so. I will be eternally grateful to anyone and everyone who helps spread the word about the work I do.
Stay safe and watch for the gifts.