Don’t be Afraid of the Bumps in the Road

1 03 2011

How can a bad thing be good?

There is a rut on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County with my name on it. Well, not really, but it became a major milestone in my own life.

A mountain biking accident which shattered my wrist seemed like just one more thing in a series of bad things, but it really became the catalyst for something bigger and better than I could have imagined. Especially when I was face down in the dirt with the breath knocked out of me, wondering what the heck I’d just done to myself.

The funny thing is – looking back, I’d do it all over again!

Each of you faces your own unique bumps in the road, and this is how to embrace them.

Moments before my wipeout, I was thinking that I was going too fast. But I had made the arduous trip up the mountain, with the encouragement of my brother and sister, and was looking forward to the fun part – the effortless ride down!

A little voice warned me I was going too fast, but I purposely overrode it saying to myself, “Don’t be so cautious, nothing will happen. Just push yourself and have fun.” I even yelled, “Woo hoo” out loud! But just around the next turn was a deep rut. I hit it too fast, exceeding my own skill limit.

Flying through the air, my life changed at that moment. But I’m glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, even though the results were not what I expected.

In your own life, many things can be your own bumps in the road.

I’m sharing my story to encourage you when you’re in the midst of set backs, and that it’s often the bad things that are actually good things after all. Something that initially looks grim, or even tragic, can become a transformational experience that can be the greatest gift or motivator in disguise.

My broken wrist was more of a psychic blow after a series of wallops, and I was wondering if there wasn’t some message from the universe that I just wasn’t getting!

This was during the Dot Com bust. I had no client work, and even worse, I had a client go bankrupt which cost me tens of thousands of dollars. Now I had medical costs on top of it.

I had no money coming in and was working hard on the KIT List in my free time helping others find jobs. But the irony is that I had no work myself. Friends didn’t think to refer work to me since they thought I was well connected and already had work. I was in a spiritual desert, not feeling God’s presence, was working hard on health and fitness but ended up with a very expensive broken wrist (I delight the TSA going through security with six screws and a large plate in my wrist).

I was hemorrhaging my hard-earned savings at a frightening rate. This was on top of several big things that hit, and it felt like I was being punished for something I hadn’t done.

But it was the fear and desperation that I was feeling that became the catalyst for good.

I’ve now made my peace with fear, realizing that it can be a powerful motivator instead.

For seven years, I’d been doing the KIT List late at night after finishing my consulting work during the day. It really felt like a monster on my back. It needed daily care and feeding, and it kept growing and growing. Friends kept saying I should charge for the KIT List, but I didn’t feel comfortable about it. The KIT (Keep In Touch) List started quite by accident while I was just keeping in touch with my friends from Silicon Graphics, and I never intended it as a business. It was more of a moral obligation and I felt a huge responsibility to the people on the list who were top-notch professionals who were out of work. They were friends and friends-of-friends who’d referred each other to the list. Early on, it was the inside scoop on jobs that weren’t listed anywhere else as SGI friends shared job openings at their new companies.

But when I had those times when I felt that I couldn’t keep the list going, I would get an email from someone on the list who had a really tough situation — and that made me feel that I had no right to shut it down when others faced harder situations than mine. I’ll never forget the woman who wrote me who had a husband dying of cancer, she was the sole income earner for their three children, and she had lost her job.

Amazing help often comes in the hardest times. Amy Sloniker Plunkett, my friend from SGI, Val Cienega, a job seeker from the KIT List community, and my sister, Kelly Connelly, stepped in to help with the heavy moderator workload as volunteers. Other friends offered advice and encouragement.

A broken wrist doesn’t seem like a big deal in the scheme of things, but it was the last in a series of blows that profoundly shook me.
It forced me, out of sheer fear and desperation, to take the KIT List to the next level, creating the web site, getting programmers, and providing better email delivery. I finally had to charge a very small fee to employers and recruiters posting jobs so I could finally pay my wonderful moderators, designers and programmers, and to make the KIT List a better tool to help great people find great jobs.

I still need my “day job” as a marketing consultant to pay my own bills, but if God hadn’t lighted a fire under me to do something about the KIT List, it would not around to be serving the wonderful 70,000 people in our community today. I’ve changed my own perception of the KIT List from being “the beast” on my back to seeing it as the “The Little Engine That Could.” It’s really the power of friends helping friends that makes this community special. I still have a lot of things I want to do to make the KIT List better, and with good friends and limited funds, I hope to be adding them over time. We are glad that the KIT List has helped so many people find great jobs, yet we want to build on that even more.

The worst thing can ultimately end up being the best thing after all.

For those of you who are facing your own bumps (or far bigger) in the road, I want to encourage you to take heart. Keep moving forward with courage and integrity, don’t be afraid to ask for help (many friends would be delighted to pitch in and return favors you’ve done for them), be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone (scary, but worth it!), and realize that you have gifts and talents to offer to friends, family, non-profits, companies, and to the world. You have gifts to offer even if you don’t have a penny in your pocket.

Hang in there and you will be able to look back on what may have been a dark chapter in your life to see that it was a catalyst to something infinitely better than you could have ever imagined!

Bad things can become a transformational experience to take your talents and character to a higher level, bring special people into your life, deepen your faith, and redirect your path to something that will exceed your expectations.

PLEASE share your own stories in the comments section of this blog.

It will  encourage other people in our KIT List community. Thanks!

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13 responses

20 04 2011
Through the open window

Sue,
Brand new subscriber here. Just looking over the blog. Amazed and inspired that one person can do this. When you’re down and out, you just need someone to extend a hand. You’re one of those people. Thank you

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15 03 2011
Margot Harrigan

Sue,
As the Director of Fund Development for the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, I am very heartened and grateful for your support.
A financial donation to the International Disaster Relief Fund will assure that donations are used where help is needed.
The chapter website (www.siliconvalley-redcross.org) has a “button” for specifying “Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami”.
Also keep in mind that disasters happen in our own community everyday – typically home fires- that also require local support.

Many thanks,
Margot Harrigan

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5 03 2011
Ms. Costello

I turned my biggest career bump (leaving a great job/company/boss to joined my worse nightmare job/company/boss)into an opportunity to try entrepreneurship:

http://www.jobpitchout.com

My experience of looking for a job made me want to help others unemployed, so in this website you can create your video elevator pitch to stand out and give a great first impression to recruiters and employers. Standard membership is free.

I believe in making lemonade out of lemons!

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3 03 2011
Deborah Gavrin Frangquist

Emotional bumps can also be catalysts for positive change. In 1995 I was fired from a job where I thought I was doing a way more than satisfactory job. Just a week before we had dropped off our son at a private college in the East. Without my salary, it wasn’t obvious how we would cover college costs, so I was not only shocked by the firing, I was terrified about finding work and income.

Within 48 hours, however, I noticed that my whole body had relaxed. I hadn’t actually known how stressed I was in that job. (I hadn’t actually known how tense I had been my whole life.) The physical shift was so extraordinary, I recognized that my body had a lot of useful information that my head didn’t have, and I got to wondering what would happen if I listened to my body.

I’m still learning what happens when I tune in to my whole self. That’s an ongoing adventure. In the meantime, I’ve chosen to be self-employed, I’ve learned to practice NLP, Reiki,T’ai Chi, and Five Rhythms dance, to talk less and listen more, to enjoy life more and like myself better. My T’ai Chi teacher says, “There’s always more to learn.” He’s speaking specifically about T’ai Chi, but it’s a much better metaphor for life’s adventures than my old beliefs that I had to put up with whatever came along and pretend I was happy.

Right now I seem to be embarking on another journey. I’ve hit some interesting bumps just this week. This time I assume getting bumped will catalyze adventure. For me, getting bumped out of a rut was the important beginning. Thank you, Sue, for reminding me right now that it can be more than okay to get bumped.

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2 03 2011
Kathleen Murphy

Just so you know when the hard work seems to no avail–nothing moving–nothing coming–I receive a daily message in a simple bracket–[KitList Job] . . . and I keep on . . . K

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2 03 2011
idocki1

Thank you Sue. Today wss just the day to read your story and get the ‘uplift’ you intended. After being downsized and really working at getting back into my career the past few months, I have hit road block after roadblock. Worst recession in years…no one is hiring over 50’s…no one is hiring the ‘unemployed’… I finally got an actual face-to-face interview for a terrific job- and it’s been 2 weeks. No word from them. No polite email or call telling me ‘thanks but no thanks’. No call to come for Round 2 of interviews. It’s so annoying/frustrating/confidence-sapping. But I’m determined to stay positive, not let others define me, and just keep focused on the meaningful in my life. Your story reinforced it for me and I can’t WAIT to have (and share!) a happy ending! 🙂

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2 03 2011
Globie

Thanks so much for this topic!! Needed to read this TODAY as I embark on job hunting after wrapping up a short-term gig last week. My heart says, I can’t give up before the miracle happens.

Not sure what God has planned, and at times when revealing what’s under the rocks seems barren and worthless, I struggle to NOT give up the faith!!

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2 03 2011
Linda

Thank you, Sue!

It is not what happens that defines us; our attitudes are shaped by how we define what happened.

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2 03 2011
Ellen

Thank you, Sue, for your love and support. I’m grateful for your positive spin on life. It reminds me to focus on living…even with the fears. And gives me strength. After being laid off I have had doubts about my abilities and have not been been very productive. It’s a process. With the new year, I have decided to focus on my strengths and talents instead and have been enjoying my “ride”.

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2 03 2011
Michael

I did not break my wrist, but I did almost die. I was on medication that made me faint. Doctors misdiagnosed me and put a pacemaker in me. The pacemaker wires burst through my heart, almost killing me. The stress of all that ended my marraige. The stress of that ended my job.

So I’m getting divorced and looking for a new job. And a new relationship. It feels like I’m being reinvented. Which is both scary and exciting.

I’m not yet to the point where I feel grateful for all that’s happened, but I hope and pray to get there soon!

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2 03 2011
Warren Oshita

My Team in Training cycling coach has a saying:

“There are two kinds of fear: the uphill fear and the downhill fear. The downhill fear keeps you safe. It’s the little voice in your head that tells you, ‘You need to slow down.’ The uphill fear keeps you from accomplishing your goals and living your dreams. It’s the little voice in your head that says, ‘This hill is too steep. This ride is too long. You can’t do this. It’s too hard.’ Our goal (at TnT) is to kill the uphill fear and manage the downhill fear.”

I encourage everyone to apply this philosophy to their daily lives. The hard part in doing so is that on a bike, it’s obvious what is uphill and what is downhill. Real life is not so obvious. But my other two-wheeled passion, motorcycling, has a saying that helps here too: “When in doubt, GAS IT!”

Have a good day everyone!

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1 03 2011
lizsainz

Oh my GOsh… U just have had a big impact in my life.
You’re such an example of life.
I’ve been looking for a Job for so long… My life has changed within the last 12 months.
I almos

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1 03 2011
Toan Nguyen

You have written a wonderful article.
I love it.

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