Knocked on Your Tush (Part 2 of 4)
Continuing our series on what you do when you get knocked on your keister, let me lay out a four-point plan you can use to overcome any obstacle you will ever face in life—a plan to turn any tragedy or setback into triumph. (Read part 1, 2, 3, 4)
Here is No. 1: I interviewed Roger Crawford recently, who was born with a physical handicap that affected all four of his limbs from the elbows down and from the knees down, leaving him with two fingers on his left wrist on one on his right, a partially developed right leg with three toes, and his left leg from the knee down was amputated. But he became a world-class tennis player, recognized by Sports Illustrated as one of the most accomplished athletes in history.
During our interview Roger made this very profound statement: “We are, often times, the one who creates our own handicaps.” Meaning, many times our obstacles are self-induced. Or, even real obstacles continue to have a hold on us because of these mental handicaps. I think we lose proper perspective. So true.
This might help you gain perspective…
A few nights ago my wife was feeling a bit stressed and down about a project that had not gone according to plan. She left the house in a bummed out mood and came back a transformed human being.
I asked her what the heck happened and she told me the story of Jimmy…
Jimmy always has a big giant smile on his face. Jimmy cleans people’s fingernails and toenails for a living. Georgia, curious why this man is always so happy, asked how he grew up. Jimmy explained he was one of nine from a very large Vietnamese family. Jimmy’s father had been loyal to the American military during the Vietnam War. He was ordered to pay restitution, which he was told would be an imprisonment term of 2 1/2 weeks. Three and a half years later, weak, starving and brutalized in what turned out to be a labor camp, his father was released.
With his release, Jimmy’s father was determined to leave Vietnam and take his wife and nine children to the United States. To do so they had to leave everything behind—their home, their small business, their money, their jewelry, all of their possessions, and most devastatingly, the commitment of never being able to return to Vietnam or their village.
To avoid capture their only option was escape by ocean, and only during monsoon season, when it was so dangerous that even the Federal Coast Guard wasn’t on the water.
The morning they planned to leave, they headed down to the shore joined by Jimmy’s uncle and his uncle’s eight children. Each family had their own small, rickety boat, the clothes on their backs and tremendous fear in their hearts. They knew death or being sent to a labor camp for the rest of their lives was more likely than escape. They proceeded anyway.
As dusk came, the wind started to whip and waves began to rise—a great storm was brewing. Both families climbed in their boats and faced the unknown of a wicked storm and utter darkness.
Not long into the journey, the storm had grown monstrous and the two boats had separated and the two families could no longer see each other. Jimmy’s family kept fighting against the storm by continually emptying their boat of water and moving forward. The next day, after many hours of darkness and torrential rain and waves, Jimmy and his family were exhausted, hungry and beaten down. Their small boat threatened to come apart any minute, but they didn’t have any strength to continue. Just as they thought they might be lost forever, a Chinese fisherman and his sons came upon them. After much convincing that they were not pirates but in fact, desperate for help, the Chinese fisherman allowed all of them on board and would take them the rest of the way to Hong Kong. Wet, starving and exhausted, Jimmy and his family felt a glimmer of hope that they might live.
Upon their embarking in Hong Kong, they were taken to a refugee center where they received a telegram stating that their uncle’s boat had been taken by the huge waves, broken in two and four of his children had died—swept away and drowned in the darkness.
On their very first airplane flight on the way to their new country, the United States of America, a movie played Jimmy never forgot—It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. It was during that flight that young Khoa Tran decided to become “Jimmy,” and has been so for the last few decades. Jimmy concluded his tale with,
“What can I possibly be unhappy about? Life is wonderful.”
So, point number one, when you are experiencing an obstacle or setback, be sure to keep it in proper perspective.
How do you keep your perspective when you trip or get knocked down? Share your thoughts in the comments below.