Mindset and perspective are two of the most important things you can have in life when dealing with setbacks or obstacles in your path toward a goal. I have personally had my share of tragedy in life, but its how we react to a tragedy that sets the tone for the future.
I’ll give you a personal example. In 1998, when I was 21 and home from college over winter break, my father unexpectedly died of a brain aneurysm. I remember like it was yesterday. My mom had a pet care business called Pampered Pet, and we would take care of people pets in their homes while they were at work or on vacation. My father was heading into work and was going to take care of one of the accounts on the way in. I was laying on the couch and I remember him reaching down, touching my check and telling me he would see me later.
I never saw him again.
He died while he was in the apartment taking care of a cat. He never made it to work. I found out later when I was at my job. My mom and brother were devastated, as was I, but I also learned so much from my father and I wanted to honor him and help take care of my family.
After the funeral, I remember sitting with my brother on the couch in our home. He was 16 years old at the time. I said “Listen man, this is hard and it sucks, but we can take this two ways. One, we can be victims, wonder why us, how could this happen, what are we going to do? Or two, we can take everything good that we do from here on out and make that a tribute to our father’s legacy and make him proud.” In effect, take his unexpected death as a source of inspiration and use it, rather than dwell.
This wasn’t something I planned or thought about, but it was that shift in perspective and mindset that really helped me survive a very difficult event in my life. In the last year, I discovered Jocko Willink’s book and podcast and he has a whole chapter on accepting setbacks as opportunity, and its a very similar perspective to the one I adopted in that moment. Take a look at the video below for Jocko’s take on things.
And remember, as long as you can still say “GOOD” you are still in the fight.