There have been times in my life when I was uncertain whether I would be able to achieve anything worthwhile and once when I was uncertain of my ability to survive.
The first bouts with doubt occurred early in my career, when a road I was on suddenly turned into a brick wall, leaving me pole-axed and uncertain as to my ability to recover. The last was six years ago when I was facing major surgery and the nurse taking me to the O.R. asked me my favorite psalm. When I said the 23rd psalm, we said it together. “Yea, as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall feel no fear…..” I didn’t feel, but I wasn’t certain that I would come out of the anesthesia to see my family again.
A business reversal and serious surgery seem to be eons apart but they have a profound common denominator: each time I allowed myself to slip into the valley of doubt I found the mountain of truth. A truth that left me stronger and wiser than I was before the free fall took place.
This was not some mystical intervention but more powerfully and reliably it was based on a process I have used to deal with the potential game changers I am faced with. Each time, I reverse engineer the danger at hand, fast forward to imagine what would happen if the worst of my runaway fears came true. When I look at the issue, the circumstances, in the cold light of day, I see that although it is far from attractive, there is a way out. An escape hatch that leads to a ladder that brings me not only back to the surface but better than that, to a level of strength, confidence and clarity of vision that surpasses what had been my high point before my world appeared to invert.
As we look out to the new year, bound to face setbacks as well as triumphs, we should tell ourselves the following whenever the earth shakes under our feet and doubt drives our thoughts:
- The fear is always greater than the reality.
- When we force ourselves to imagine the worst case, we see that it is not as bad as it looks from a distance.
- There is always a way out and up.
- The smart and the tough do not whine, they find a way to beat the odds and win.
The valley of doubt is a test of sorts that can lead to weakness or, if we understand what it is and how to navigate it, turns out to be a mountain not only of truth but of strength.Email This Post