Topic of the Week
This week, while I’m in London for the I Can Do It conference and Movers & Shakers workshop, I thought I’d rerun a popular newsletter from 2008. I hope it speaks to you. Here goes…
This week I caught an interview with Jennifer Hudson, the young singer who was voted off of American Idol and ended up stealing the show in the movie, Dreamgirls. Jennifer was asked how she handled the disappointment of being eliminated from Idol when most people thought she would win. She admitted that it was painful and that she cried a lot, but that eventually she returned to her faith. “I chose to trust that God had a bigger plan for me than I could see at the time,” she explained.
I guess so. Her performance in Dreamgirls led to an Oscar.
Jennifer’s story is a powerful reminder of how life’s disappointments may in fact be preparation for something even more significant in our lives. And, this belief has the best chance of coming true when you make a demonstrated commitment to learn and grow from your present day circumstances.
When I look back at the painful breakup of the relationship I was in before my marriage, for example, I can see that the suffering and subsequent growth I went through was exactly what I needed to prepare me for a more mature and lasting relationship later on – although I certainly didn’t know it at the time. The pain and disappointment forced me to grow. It challenged me to face my fear of living alone. It prompted me to get my butt into therapy. And it ultimately helped me to develop self-respect. I learned to treat myself better, which in turn, naturally raised my standards for how I would allow others to treat me in the future.
Jennifer’s belief can serve us all in times of suffering or pain. For example, is there something going on in your life right now – a breakup, a problem at work, the slow growth of your business, or financial hardship – that might be attempting to prepare you for what’s next? Think about it. What if your current challenge is a call to action – the kind of action that will prepare you for the next phase of your life? What are you being invited to learn? What qualities of character are trying to be strengthened or developed? Where do you need to take more responsibility in your life?
As I’ve dealt with my own challenges, the belief of “disappointment or suffering as preparation” is something I hold onto as a reminder that we are never alone, that there is a purpose to our suffering and pain, and that when we get to the other side, a great opportunity to use what we’ve learned in service to ourselves and others awaits.
Take heart. Every day, in some way, we’re all being prepared for something better…