A few years ago, I had the tremendously wonderful opportunity to attend a Tony Robbins seminar as his personal guest. World leaders (including U.S. Presidents), olympians, world's most successful business people and others rely on Tony Robbins to help them make better decisions and live more enjoyable, fulfilling lives.
For those of us who are not heads of state and have yet to win a olympic gold medal he has tremendous amounts of resources online and -- at seminars. [He had invited me for my work on international conflict resolution (a story for another time) and now I occasionally coach their youth program]
At some point during the seminar, I came upon this little plastic reminder-card about problems (see below). I put it on my fridge and occasionally look at it while sipping my coffee -- sometimes scowling. I like the idea of problems being gifts, but they don't usually occur this way.
Today, in a very small, but profound way I experienced the possibility of this idea.
Emboldened by a powerful weekend in New York at Columbia University studying memory politics, I felt ready to taken on the broken light bulb in my humble Baltimore kitchen. Of course, the bulb decided to brake during extraction -- I had no idea what to do.
I read on-line about potatoes, epoxy, and other tactics, but wasn't sure where to start.
I texted my cousin. He lives near Cape Cod and, like his father, has a successful business helping those of us clueless with our homes. He talked me through it; I succeeded and felt like a superstar!
Now, this may seem rather trivial, "cousin calls cousin for lightbulb help."
But it was more meaningful than this.
This year, his sister (my cousin) died.
This year, my dad (his uncle) died.
Anyone who has experienced family loss knows the strange gap this creates in so many ways. Now, my dad was not the fix it type. I never would have called him for his help. He would have either guided me into gluing the whole thing together with epoxy or suggested I move to a place with better lighting.
That said, I probably would not have thought to call my cousin had my father been alive. It moved me closer. I thought after hanging up the phone that maybe Tyler's sister-- had she lived -- would have called him for the same kind of help someday.
Hearing his voice soothed me. I appreciated, again, the wonderful talents of those who know how to fix objects -- people who know how to make the material world function.
Today was a gift. I'm glad that light bulb broke and I'm glad I didn't know what to do.
So take a look at this little card. Maybe print it out, put it up, scowl at it like I did and then one day watch a problem become a gift. I'd love to hear about it.
Sarah Federman, PhD
Enjoy these short blogs and videos designed to bring you a little cheer.
My other blog Language of Conflict addresses the importance of word choice and narration in conflict.
Finish and Flourish supports writers struggling to complete projects.