I just returned from speaking at a customer appreciation event for ESPN Radio in North Carolina. On the flight down there I was reflecting on my time living in North Carolina and decided to tweak the beginning of the speech I prepared. I’m glad I did because it struck a chord with my audience. I’ve had a dozen audience members reach out to share how they’ve reflected on some of their experiences as a result of my talk. With that in mind, I thought it would be worth sharing with you…
This was the first time I’d visited North Carolina since we moved back to Maine in 2007. My visit prompted me to reflect back on my six years there. Our jobs took us to North Carolina from Maine in 2001, as soon as we arrived I was informed the college I was now coaching at was going bankrupt. My boss even told me I’d be better off moving back to Maine, if I could get my old job back. Since my wife and I had already resigned from our jobs and sold our house, that wasn’t an option for us. So out of necessity, we stuck it out. The entire time, I kept thinking “Why me, why is this happening to me?”
Little did I know at the time, but I was wrong. It wasn’t happening to me, it was happening for me. The college ended up surviving, my wife loved her job, we found our dream house and my team ended up enjoying some great success, advancing to the 2002 NCAA Final Four.
Fast forward three years, I was a victim of my own success and was fired for not winning a national championship… on my birthday to add insult to injury. I was unemployed and had a wife, a mortgage and a newborn baby. Talk about pressure. At the time, I kept thinking “Why me, why is this happening to me?”
Looking back it wasn’t happening to me, it was happening for me. I had no work-life balance, I wasn’t just burning the candle at both ends I was taking a flamethrower to it. I was working 16 hour days, 7 days a week, sleeping in the office and it was taking a toll on my marriage. Getting fired on my birthday didn’t happen TO me, it absolutely happened FOR me. My former boss gave me a gift that day and it might be the greatest birthday present I ever received. My unexpected “retirement” from coaching let to an amazing opportunity hosting a sports talk show and serving as the sales manager at, of all places, ESPN Radio in Fayetteville North Carolina. (The same ESPN Radio that became a client of mine when I launched my speaking career and remains a client to this day.)
When we moved down to North Carolina my wife and I wanted to start a family. On January 2, 2004, the day our daughter Meredith was born, she failed her newborn hearing screening and was diagnosed with a progressive hearing loss. At the time, we were devastated, thinking “Why is this happening to us?” We’d done everything right in the process leading up to her birth.
The reality of the situation was that had we not moved to North Carolina, Meredith’s progressive hearing loss may not have been diagnosed for years and it would’ve set back her development because at that time there was no newborn hearing screening in the state of Maine. As a result of the early diagnosis in North Carolina we were quickly able to get her services, fitted for hearing aids and extensive testing. Consequently, she was able to develop early acquisition of language before her hearing got progressively worse.
I could list a dozen more situations where I mistakenly thought something unfortunate was happening to me. I’m thankful for every one of those experiences that happened for me, because every time I was right where I was supposed to be at that time.
I firmly believe most things don’t happen “to us” so much as they happen “for us”; we just don’t necessarily realize it at the time. You can’t connect the dots in the moment and we certainly can’t see into the future, we can only connect the dots looking backwards. This is why we must have faith that things happen for a reason in our lives.
There’s a natural tendency to get so caught up in the moment and have emotion driven responses that we sometimes have trouble seeing situations in our personal or professional lives for what they really could be as opposed to our immediate perception of what they are.
The next time you have one of those “why is this happening TO me?” sort of moments I encourage you to stop, think, and keep the faith that it is actually happening FOR you.
What if you’re exactly where you are, when you are because it’s right where you’re supposed to be?