Picture my wife and I traversing a winding, lush mountain road toward the Waimea State Park on the island of Kaua’i. We wind around a hairpin turn and, in an instant, a massive canyon vista bursts into our view.
Cristina turns to me and playfully quips, “Today does NOT suck!”
I’m present to how most of life doesn’t show up in such radiant textures and vibrant colors. What people don’t see in moments like this are the sequence of events that occured to make the present moment possible, especially the number of breakdowns required.
For me, the most empowering tool for transforming breakdowns into triumphs happens when I can cause an intentional shift in my point of view. Much of this shifting of context occurs when we can take RADICAL responsibility for how things have gone, and to stop blaming others.
It’s important to untether the words “responsibility” and “fault” because of the latter muttles our perception by deeming people, things and experiences as good, bad, right, wrong, or justified (as our point of view and opinion dictates).
Here’s what I mean by taking responsibility: Until just last weekend I had had a nasty, judgemental opinion that my sister, who lives in Canada with her three children and her husband, only reaches out when there’s a problem – mostly related to my father’s communication, behavior or health.
Worse still, I created a nasty story that my sister was unreliable and weak. Yet, here she was calling me to share that our father had a mini stroke, and that she was taking care of everything. In fact, she had taken care of our dad after being diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and after having a heart attack, all the while loving and caring for her own family in the process.
My sister is a damn superhero, and I’m SO inextricably clear that our father’s ability to bounce back from diagnosis after diagnosis, and trial after trial, is due to my sister’s deep love and resilience.
What also became crystal clear was that the very thing I was consistently complaining about was the very thing I wasn’t generously giving. I wasn’t doing my part to stay in contact, and I definitely wasn’t being a consistent brother, friend, or uncle to my nephew and nieces.
So, rather than turning away from the impact of my actions (or lack there of), I chose to call my sister and share the story I had created. From nearly the moment I said, I’m sorry,” I started to see other areas of life – in my relationship with Cristina, with my extended family, and in my business partnerships – where I hadn’t been judging, making people wrong, and being stingy with my love.
Now, here’s the thing. These revelations might seem heavy or, in the very least, highly unwanted. But, what I’ve learned from countless failures-turned-breakthroughs is that all breakthroughs (as we’re defining them here) exist inside of the present challenge.
This seems counter-intuitive because when a problem occurs our initial reaction is to turn away in order to avoid or ignore what happened. I get it. Confronting the impact of the negative stories and actions we project onto others can be jarring and, in some cases, physically painful.
Reacting and turning away from pain, however, faces us in the direct path of our past ways of being and acting. As a result, we block ourselves from any access to long-term transformation.
The real power of transformation lies in turning toward the area that’s most uncomfortable, standing in the face of the breakdown, and vulnerably sharing the truth. When we follow this up with a clear and stated commitment for others, we get immediate access to a future that simply WASN’T going to happen randomly.
With my sister, I shared my commitment to build a happy, united and self-expressed family – one that stands for one another no matter what! And, most importantly, it opened up a whole new view & context of who my sister ACTUALLY is. She didn’t have to change or alter, yet my experience of her transformed entirely.
Much love and happy moving!