The Japanese Samurai poet knew what we all have the ability to learn through the difficulties of life. But we must be wise enough, and open enough to grab the learning.
Loss and gain are two opposite poles of the same dance; and it cannot be otherwise.
Now I know we don’t like to think this way, but it’s true nonetheless.
I remember sitting in the second row pew of my Dad’s church as a small boy, and listening to dad speak of Glenn W. Turner. While I didn’t totally comprehend all the implications, Turner’s story made a profound impact on me at this young age nonetheless.
Turner was with Koscot, a cosmetic network marketing company of the time. At one point, so the story goes, he ran into financial challenges. His company also ran into legal challenges.
By the way, this happens to all of us, maybe not the legal challenges, but financial challenges are part of the human experience; and there’s no escaping it. Get used to it.
Challenges, financial and otherwise, are part of the initiation to greatness.
Challenges are the ultimate chance to develop perspective.
Turner came home one day to find his sobbing wife sitting in the middle of a barren living room floor. When he had left for the day the room was completely filled with furniture.
She lamented to him, “They came and repossessed all the furniture!”
He immediately responded, “Good! Now we don’t have any more payments!”
The barn burned down and it created more freedom. A completely different perspective and view.
Liberty is the ability to come and go and do what you please.
Freedom is the ability to choose your response in any given moment to life circumstances. Freedom can never be taken away—only given away.
Now as an aside, I don’t suggest Turner’s response to his wife as the most compassionate response right out of the chute.
All things have a time and a place.
But it is a definite polarity shift.
All gain is a loss and all loss is gain.
When my business was small, I had an inordinate amount of time to contemplate, meditate, study and write. I truly wanted to grow my reach and my impact. I achieved the objective; and as I gained exposure in the world, I began to lose personal time.
As greater and greater demands were placed upon me there was always more to be accomplished than there were hours in the day. Can you related to this one?
The time once abundantly available to read, contemplate and research now had to be scheduled if there was any hope of it occurring. I had to instruct my executive assistant to block off time on my calendar just for me, or it didn’t happen.
Have a bigger picture perspective. Have patience.
If you go out into the world too soon you may never access your true greatness.
At a point I continuously flew into town late each Friday night, came home to an empty refrigerator, cars out of gas, and loads of laundry. I spent my entire weekend running much needed errands, grocery shopping, grabbing a couple workouts, doing laundry; and then off again at the crack of dawn on Monday to the next city.
This was my never-ending weekly routine.
I was constantly meeting with my team and telling them “We have to find a way to duplicate me and get me off this non-stop roadwork. This won’t scale.”
It was a grind.
I was exhausted.
Yes, I love what I do; and yet fatigue makes cowards of us all.
Eventually I hired a personal assistant, in addition to my executive assistant, just to handle my personal affairs.
While it may sound sexy and exciting to have an executive assistant and a personal assistant… please remember, they both cost money. And plenty of it if you want good ones.
In addition, you have to manage them, mentor and guide them; and you must give them constant feedback regarding their performance.
Then they quit; and you have to hire a new one while you’re still running around the world and attempting to get your personal life squeezed in and handled.
Not to mention running an entire company with thirty full time team members and all that’s entailed with that one.
Are you getting the picture?
So, by achieving my intention was I actually gaining or losing?
The answer is “both.”
As I continued to become more highly recognized as an expert in my field, I lost even more personal time and privacy.
As I gained in responsibility, I lost in flexibility.
I could go on but I’m sure you get the point.
Finally, I lost it all… or did I?
Gain and loss are two opposite sides of the same coin.
I found myself in prison after losing everything (including my liberty), but oddly I once again had plenty of time to do what?
You guessed it…contemplate, meditate, study and write.
There was no pressure whatsoever to pay the rent or mortgage, not even to buy food.
I read and wrote for 8-12 hours per day. While on one hand the conditions were deplorable, on the other hand they were a gift… I had plenty of time. It was all a matter of perspective.
I lost liberty and gained more flexibility. Something to ponder.
Now I find myself with plenty of time once again and much less pressures placed upon me than when I was running an Inc. 500 company.
There are two major polarities that we all dance with, let’s call those spirit and form.
The gain in one always brings a corresponding loss in the other. We tend to fear the loss of all things physical, and yet the only thing that’s truly threatened are those things which are temporary.
Truth be known, all things physical are transitory; and no matter how hard we hang on, we’ll eventually be forced to let go.
Let go of that which you’ve outgrown and used up.
Let go easily or let go kicking and screaming. Either way, you will let go.
There’s never any threat to that which is eternal.
Things eternal are the only things of true value, for they can never be taken away.
We think we own things… we don’t. “But James” you may say, “My home is paid for, therefore I own it.” Think again. At best you’re a temporary custodian of your home or anything material.
Everything you think you own will belong to someone else someday—everything. Please read that again.
If you get into legal problems the creditors will quickly take away your home. Even when it’s paid for. Believe me, I know.
I’m curious, what do you have hanging in your life closet that you’ve long outworn and outgrown?
Like that old pair of pants that are two seasons out of fashion and 20 pounds too small.
“But James,” you say, “they may come back in style! And I’m going to get in shape.”
Maybe. Everything moves in cycles.
Give them away. Tell yourself and the universe that you’re abundant and non-attached to transitory things. Your apparent loss is someone else’s gain who’s in need.
And whatever you do… please don’t have one of those cheesy garage sales.
Every gain is a loss and every loss is a gain
and it cannot be otherwise.
It’s all a matter of wisdom and perspective…