Slammed Doors and Silver Linings

Happy Thankful Thursday #8! 

Week one I shared my love and appreciation for my wife. Week 2 was my old job and my marketing crew. I talked about my business partner Brian, one of my early mentors Britt, John Stange and his platform launchers community, my kids, and summer camp. Over the past two months that I’ve been doing this, I’ve reflected a lot on a lot of good things.

But you know what else I’m thankful for?

Bad things.

That’s right. Let’s shift gears a bit this week and give credit where credit is due. Mistakes, set backs, conundrums, and crises don’t get anywhere close to the respect they deserve. Now, I’m not saying I LIKE it when everything goes sideways, but can you think of a better teacher than a blunder?

I can tell my kids not to slam doors. Explain why they shouldn’t slam doors. Warn them they could get hurt, damage something, or get a punishment for not listening to my constant pleading with them to not slam doors. But they’ll still slam doors. Because they are trying to break me.

BUT a couple months ago, my youngest son was playing with his friends and he got his fingers pinched pretty bad in a door slamming incident. You know what he didn’t do for a long time after that? Slam doors.

He’s back at it again – because. But I will say, door slamming has become a lot less frequent, a lot less slammy now when it does happen, but that actual encounter with the thing he was warned about countless times before seems to have left an impression. It finally connected.

Just last week. I wasn’t as thorough about something, and I accidentally sent out an email to a pretty big list that had the wrong link. You know what I’m going to be EXTRA careful about for the foreseeable future? Making sure all the links in the marketing emails I send out are correct.

Both of these bad things with benefits could be filed under “Cautionary Tales”

They help us learn. They help us to be more careful in the future. And ideally they work like an inoculation. A little poke now to avoid a little Polio later. 

There’s other ways bad things can help us get better, and just for fun, I organized them into 3 “C’s” of crappy things.

Cautionary Tales, (we just talked about this and I have a couple more examples to share)

Closed Doors,

and Crucibles.

Cautionary Tales – or really Cautionary Experiences that we’ve lived ourselves are a quick way to figure out what not to do and really have it stick.

Indiana Jones only needed to step on the J tile once to have it seared into his brain for the rest of his life that Jehovah starts with an I in the Latin alphabet. 

It only takes one computer crash to make you obsessive compulsive about saving your work often when you’re working on a big project.

Every now and then I have to fix an issue that pops up on a client website, and initially I have no idea what the problem is or how to fix it. But over the years, I have developed a wealth of troubleshooting tips that help me get in and get out a lot more efficiently. Stuff that would be really hard to learn – stuff that you wouldn’t even know you would NEED to learn – without having to face the problem yourself. I still hit walls sometimes. And they are frustrating as all get out, but then I figure it out and add it to my brain library.

Scams are another great source for cautionary tales. Fortunately I haven’t been the victim of any major scams – besides the American Healthcare System. But I have been the target of many attempted scams, especially since starting a business. I started receiving all sorts of fake offers, official looking forms that aren’t actually from any officials, like the PA Certificate Service scam a couple years ago. 

But that’s actually what inspired me to lean in and develop this channel. To give other small business owners a heads up and help them avoid falling prey to scams or other potential pitfalls that I had to navigate myself. 

So thank you scammers, for giving my life meaning.

Seriously though, go back through my videos. Old ones and new ones and count how many are developed around me making a mistake or having to figure out a problem.

I actually got a brand new scam letter last week that I’ll be covering in a future video. So be on the look out for that.

Mistakes and problems in this case aren’t just good for me. They are good for the general public who can learn from me without having to endure the consequences of the mistake themselves. 

Closed Doors – gently closed and slammed alike – are another seemingly bad thing that have saved my life on many occasions. 

Maybe we should call them course corrections. That still begins with C.

They are disappointing in the moment. We hope and plan for one thing and something else happens instead. It can take the form of failure. Which is a horrible feeling. Especially when our identities – our reputations, our paychecks, our promotions – hinge so heavily on our performance; on our ability to not fail. But more often than not, it has nothing to do with us and how we stack up to the competition. Doors just close. Snow storms ground flights. Managers hire incompetent nephews. Restaraunts run out of french fries. 

I was finishing up my MBA and I was getting itchy. I wanted the work and the lack of sleep to pay off. I didn’t mind my job, but I wanted to feel a little more secure and provide more for my family. That was why I was getting an MBA – So I could advance in my career. So I started applying for positions at other companies. Long story short, nothing really panned out. But thank God it didn’t. I believe in a sovereign God who knows a lot more than I think I know. And looking back, I am so thankful that I was disappointed a few years ago. Otherwise, I would be a LOT MORE disappointed today.

This weekend I drove past the exit that I would get off for work if I had been made an offer at one of the companies I applied to. It’s almost an hour away from my house. I live in the middle of a triangle. Princeton, Center City Philly, and King of Prussia, where all the “good jobs” are. 45, 60, or more away. And then 45, 60 or more minutes to get back home.

A lot of the job opportunities I was finding would have me either relocate and lose our community, or commute hours each day and miss out on – I did the math – over a month’s worth of time each year with my family. And very likely more than that because I would need to be on the road before breakfast, and get back after dinner. So no meals with me kids. No. Just. No. 

I stayed put at my job that is just 5 minutes away from us. And in case you missed my thankful thursday episode about my old coworkers – they are great. And as new opportunities opened up and I started pursuing growing my own business, they were incredibly accommodating.

It was disappointing to be passed over for the jobs I applied for, but it was a mercy.

Just like how every wrong answer gets us closer to the right one, every closed door and course correction gets us closer to where we need to be.

There’s so many different types of bad things, but the final crappy category I’ll touch on are 

Crucibles. I used this word last week and I like it, so I’m using it again. I’ve also been wearing the same pair of pants two days in a row. And you can’t do anything about it.

A crucible is where things are subject to high temperatures and melted down in order to refine them, make something a better version of itself. Hard things. Stressful things. Challenges

that reveal our limits and give us an opportunity to push past them. They don’t usually feel comfy and cozy and fun fun fun at the time. But they help us grow. 

I mentioned the MBA – I was working on that while I was working full-time and raising a one-year old, and then a newborn, and trying to manage some freelance work and some volunteer commitments. It was hard. It was really hard. It was an incredible growing experience and I learned a lot about time management. 

I never had so much stacked up like that before. And I had to back down from some things. Which felt bad. But it was okay. And getting to the point where you have to say “no” to stuff is a good sign that you are filling your time and being productive, and that you understand your priorities, and that you value doing things well and you want to make sure you are giving adequate time to the things that are most important to you. But I didn’t know any of that before I pushed myself to the brink and had at least one break down. It was a crucible experience to gain the wisdom.. That I think I have now?

Sometimes the challenges reveal that something I’ve been really scared or anxious about really wasn’t a thing – certainly not as bad as I made it out to be and not worth getting worked up about.

Which gives you confidence to tackle the next challenge.

Bad things suck. Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not advocating we go chase after bad things, or make excuses for things that we know are wrong,  or redefine bad as good, but we can appreciate struggles and setbacks for the way they make us a little wiser, a little stronger, a little more mindful and content. A little more vulnerable and humble and honest and prayerful and more willing to reach out to others, lean in closer to community for support, to draw closer to God. And if instead of chronically complaining, villainizing every external factor that gets in between us and our desired outcomes, or lamenting an alleged lack of justice because things don’t go our way and McDonalds won’t make us an Egg McMuffin even though it’s only 5 minutes after the breakfast service cutoff. If instead of fixating on the negative side of negative things, we can practice appreciation for the bad things, to put on our silver linings glasses and be grateful for the things we learned and the things that DID go right, I think we’ll be happier people. Healthier people. Mentally, emotionally, physically.

You don’t need that Egg McMuffin. Be thankful for the breakfast cutoff.

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