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!