A Question That Changes Everything

In 2003, I was named President of Thomas Nelson. It was an extremely busy time. I made some major changes to my executive team and had two vacant positions. As a result, I essentially had three jobs.

An Undecided Businessman - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/kaisersosa67, Image #2098327

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/kaisersosa67

One morning on my way to work, I grabbed my computer case in my right hand, a fresh cup of coffee in my left, and headed downstairs to the garage to leave to work.

Four steps from the bottom, I slipped on the carpet. Without a free hand to grab the stair-rail, I tumbled forward. The next thing I knew, I was flat on my fanny on the landing.

I wasn’t immediately aware of any pain. However, my dress shirt and tie were soaked in coffee. I remember thinking, Shoot! I’m going to have to completely change my clothes. This was particularly frustrating, because I was already running late, and I had a very busy day ahead of me.

My wife Gail heard me fall and came running. “Are you okay?” she asked as she raced down the stairs to help me up.

“I’m fine,” I assured her. “However, I’m afraid I’ve made a mess.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she offered as she helped me up. “I can clean this up while you get changed.”

When I put my weight down on my right foot, I let out a yelp. “Oh my gosh! I think my ankle is sprained.” As it turned out, it was more than sprained. It was broken.

My day was, of course, scuttled. In fact, the next ten days were scuttled. I had to have surgery, including a plate and six screws to repair the damage. In addition, for three months I had to wear a therapeutic boot (in lieu of a cast). This couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

At this point, I could have asked myself several questions:

  • Why am I so clumsy?
  • Why did I have both hands full?
  • Why does this have to happen now?
  • Why did I have to be in such a hurry?
  • What did I do to deserve this?

The problem with these questions is that they are completely unproductive and disempowering.

They are natural, of course, and probably even necessary. It’s all part of the process of grieving a loss. But ultimately there are better questions.

One of the best questions you can ask when something negative happens is this:

“What does this experience make possible?”

Do you see the subtle shift? Suddenly, your attention moves from the past—which you can’t do a thing about—to the future.

It is also an acknowledgment that nothing happens by chance. Everything has a purpose. Even the bad things can have a positive impact, when we open our hearts and accept them as “part of the plan.”

In my particular case, a broken ankle had several positive benefits:

  • I couldn’t go to work for a week, so I got some much-needed rest.
  • I had time to set up a new blog and start writing on a regular basis.
  • I got to board first when flying and usually got to upgrade to first-class—for free.
  • I learned first-hand about the challenges you face when you are in a wheel-chair or on crutches.
  • I was forced to slow down and “smell the roses.”
  • I saw my colleagues take more initiative and gained a new appreciation for them.
  • I got to meet several people I would have otherwise never met, including an amazing surgeon who gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to integrate your faith with your profession.
  • I had a ready-made conversation starter, when I met people I didn’t know.

The bottom line is this: you can’t always choose what happens to you. Accidents and tragedies happen. But you can choose how you respond to those situations. One of the best ways to begin is to ask yourself the right question.

Question: Consider a negative situation in your life. Ask, “What does this experience make possible? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://www.transformationalleadership.ph/ Mighty Rasing

    Wow. What an experience Michael. 

    I would have sulked and thought bad about it. But the shift of questions you made, that was just awesome! I think I’m going to take those lessons to heart, in case my plans are thwarted. 

  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    I like your attitude, Michael. Though bad things are bad, the right response (or the right question) to that can produce good things out of it. I am reminded of the Scripture passage where Jesus showed Himself to His disciples as a conqueror (John 16:33). I think He probably had the same question in mind when he hung on the cross – ““What does this experience make possible?”

    • http://chrisvonada.info/ chris vonada

      Amen to that Joe!!

      Very inspiring Michael!

    • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

      Wow Joe. That is an amazing perspective.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, indeed. With God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

  • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

    Michael, I recently had to accept the resignation of one of the three top execs in our company, someone upon whom I heavily relied on a daily basis.  He told me as I was walking out the door for a 10-day family vacation.

    Rather than panic, I asked similar questions to yours and realized I would have 10 days uninterrupted to think about what I would do when I got back.  In addition, I began to realize this was the perfect opportunity to change the org. structure and improve it going forward.

    What would have been a devastation to me otherwise turned into a great chance to strengthen our team!  It also gave me plenty of material for my blog!  The new COO is in place and working well now.  I will now have more freedom in the future to work on the integration of faith and work – maybe even that book!

    Thanks for sharing your story – it is great advice!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Great story Chris. Glad it all worked out.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s a perfect example. Thanks for sharing it.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Nice timing, huh? :) How we respond to negative events doesn’t just impact us, but those around us as well. This could’ve easily ruined a family vacation, not only for you but the rest of your family. Great illustration, Chris.

      • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

        Thanks Michele.  Later, I gave him a really hard time about trying to ruin my vacation, but it really worked out the way I needed it to.

    • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

      WOW…awesome and encouraging example of living that out Chris!

      • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

        Thanks Jackie!  I cannot claim anything other than God preparing me and giving me the peace I needed to receive the news.  I am really thankful for that!

        • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

          Well said, true, and GREAT perspective!

    • Carrie W

      Thank you for sharing Chris, your story reminded me one a similar one when I was fairly new to my leadership position.  A person in charge of two departments decided to move on, and it was completely unexpected, and at a time I was really busy. Being fairly new to management I was frankly devestated. My boss told me things would be fine, and left for a meeting promising to return to help process it with me. While she was gone, I called a friend for prayer, took a couple deep breaths and got logical about it. I looked at it like you did, a chance to do something new, build “my” team with hiring 2 new people, and prioritize by asking team members at my level for help. It was a overall good experience and I learned an amazing amount. God put the right people for the positions in my path, and they have been *perfect* for the jobs!  I think if we can get over that initial shock and ask God for help, He shows up so faithfully and gives everything–strength, peace, and people!
      I’ve found so many great things at this site for the team I supervise, and our senior leadership team, keep up the great work Michael!

      • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

        Thanks Carrie.  It sounds like you responded perfectly!  Great job!

  • http://www.jermainelane.com/ Jermaine Jay Lane

    Asking “What does this experience make possible” causes a mental shift and is a great pattern disrupter of the usual negative “this sucks” or “why did this have to happen to me”.  The life threatening illness I’ve dealt with since 2006 (I received a kidney transplant in 2010 whoop whoop ) opened up so many unique possibilities, some tangible, most intangible.  The biggest one being:  Hope.  

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and your insight.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Wow Jermaine. Glad everything worked out.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Love your attitude, Jermaine. 

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Whoa, we must be thinking along the same wavelength Michael! I wrote and have queued up a similar blog post about asking better questions.

    It’s amazing the difference asking the right questions can bring. Instead of being a victim, it can make us empowered and able to face the challenge. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, indeed. Questions are soooo powerful. I keep meaning to put all my best ones in one place. It might be work a short book.

  • http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/ Matt McWilliams

    Wow Michael. I have never had that perspective. In fact, it’s hard for me to even imagine right now. I prefer to think of all the negatives.

    I KNOW intellectually that everything happens for a reason. I know that God can bring good out of the most absurd circumstances. But it’s easier to wallow in self-pity.

    Thank you, Michael. You’ve given me something very important to consider and work on. Your post may very well have changed my life and vastly improved my marriage and more…

    I believe I owe you eternal gratitude.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Matt. It was a game-changer for me, to be sure.

  • Jeremiah Zeiset

    Your post was very enjoyable. I’ve seen myself in exactly the same position, having done something stupid, and then beating myself up for it. I’ve also seen other pick up where I had to leave off, and that is the most awesome thing. My problem is that I continue beating myself up for the stupid thing, and keep adding it to my ‘list’ of stupid things I’ve done. 

    With time, I believe I can have more of the perspective you laid out, all the time. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      How about keeping a list of all the smart things you have done. I’ll bet there are a ton. It just takes asking yourself the more empowering question.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com/ Paul B Evans

    What does this experience make possible?

    Michael as you and some others here know… my first wife passed away in my arms when our son Sam was five weeks old. (This was 19 years ago now. Wow! Hey, I’m young – just 44! :) )

    That tragedy has obviously impacted my life more than anything else I have experienced…

    1. It cause me to reorganize priorities. I decided to create a business where I would never miss a school event or important activity in Sam’s life and my future family’s life as well. That’s been accomplished over 90% of the time.

    2. Hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – have heard the story and reclaimed their dreams and control of their life (even in the middle of the uncontrollable.)

    3. Most importantly – opportunities have come to help others experiencing something similar. Making the following verses true for me…

    2 Cor 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 

    Success is NOT an Accident!
    Paul 

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Paul -

      Thanks for sharing. Very touching.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love this comment, Paul. It’s really powerful. I also love that Bible verse and have quoted it many times (mostly t myself).

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I didn’t know your story, Paul. Thanks for sharing it here. The circumstances that have the potential to destroy us, also carry the potential to rebuild us in ways we couldn’t have imagined possible.

  • Dorothy Stewart

    This is great – an upbeat way to handle those snarl-ups that happen to all of us. I felt my heart lift instantly. Now I need to chew over exactly what new possibles are out there for me as a result of the tough things. Thank you!

  • http://keikihendrix.com/ Keiki Hendrix

    I’ve had so many of these moments that first appeared to be problems but ended up being catalyst that threw me forward to the next level in my life. You’d think by now I would immediately think that something beautiful was coming from what appears to be a problem. I’m getting better at recognizing it but I still am often caught off guard.

    Thanks for this reminder!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I love your perspective, Keiki. You are looking at the same problems, but seeing something different in them.

    • http://twitter.com/cupojoegirl Eileen Knowles

       I’m with you Keiki.  These moments are catalysts.  And yet, each time they come up, I tend to have to relearn that.  I am quick to forget how necessary they can be for growth.

  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    I was watching football yesterday and they were talking about a defensive back’s mentality.  When they get beaten by a wide receiver, “They all have to have a short memory” one announcer stated.  But the other, a former player corrected him.  He said, “No.  They have to forget the emotions of the failure but remember the lessons.”  

    Same lesson.  Different context.  I believe we all grow more during times of trial than times of prosperity if we look for the lessons.  Your question is perfect!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      I have heard that as well. Good analogy.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love that quote: “Forget the emotions of the failure but remember the lessons.” This is post-worthy!

      • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

        I have to agree! Definitely post-worthy!

  • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

    Great post Michael!  I teach my 12-year old daughter’s homeschool lessons, and tutor a small group of other homeschoolers.

    One thing that I model and teach them is to ask good questions.  I teach my kids that the better questions they ask, the more they learn, and the better chance they have to accomplish what they are working toward.

    Your story does a great job of illustrating that.  Thanks for sharing!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I agree with you J. I am still learning how to ask better questions.

      • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

        The best way to learn how to ask better questions…is to keep asking questions! :)

    • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

      What a tremendous gift to teach those students the power of quality questions!

      One of the most powerful questions we ever learned that we taught to our daughters was this: What has to happen so that …? This question automatically puts the other party into a solution mode and opens the door to conversation about possibilities.
      Of course, you must be prepared to have your children use this question on you as well. We had many laughs and good conversations over the years as our girls employed this question to help them get past our sometimes automatic no’s. 

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        That’s a great question too, Kim.

      • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

        Great question!  Yes, we have to be prepared that what ever we teach our kids, will somehow come back as a question/challenge to us.

        But it’s all good, because we get to grow from those opportunities…especially if we have not been living it! ;)

  • http://www.tammyhelfrich.com/ Tammy Helfrich

    I had a similar experience several years ago. I didn’t need surgery, but was in a boot for 10 weeks. I was forced to slow down and I really needed it at that time. I also greatly appreciated my mobility and had a better respect for people in wheelchairs. Being able to learn lessons in tough times is always good.

  • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

    Again another great post on perspective.

  • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

    This is going into my powerful questions toolbox! I just love how curiosity can lead us to a fresh perspective and previously unseen ideas and solutions.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Interesting. I’d never considered that curiosity and anger don’t coexist.

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    As an orthopedic surgeon I see many different ways of responding to situation like yours. There are those that repeatedly ask “why me?” Some focus on the pain they feel. Others worry about potential problems. But when a patient asks me, “What do we do next?” nothing is more encouraging. By far, these patients do better than the others.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I wish you could meet my surgeon, Jeremy. His name is Dr. Paul Thomas. Right before the surgery, he walked into my room. He said, “Michael, are you a praying man?”
      I said, “You bet.”

      He said, Do you mind if I pray for you before we go into surgery?”

      I responded, “Absolutely not. Please do!”

      He then grabbed my hand, knelt down beside my bed, and prayed. It REALLY moved me.

      • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

        Wow! A nurse from my church works in the surgery unit of our local hospital. When I went in for a biopsy, she came by my bed and asked if I wanted her to pray with me. It was so powerful and I was so moved!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Wow. I worked in hospitals for years, and never saw this happen. Glad to know it does!

      • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

         What a great story!

      • Mcochran1100

        HI Michael, what an inspiring post thank you.  I would love to hear you talk more about your perspective on what it means to integrate your faith and
        your profession.   I am working through that very issue and would love to hear your thoughts and practices if you’re willing to share.

        Thank you!

  • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

    And I bet you saw more than ever that you needed to delegate your workload and get those positions filled. Like God saying, “Michael, I really need you to focus on this…like really bad.” So he set it up so you would. I totally relate.

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    Needed this encouraging word today. I was just on the phone last night with a mentor, as he helped me think through some trials we’re under. As “in-state missionaries” we are frustrated by a few things, running into roadblocks (when it comes to having enough work and financial support, and with apathy in “leaders” in this community).

    But we have to remember that God is at work in this community and in our lives. He has a plan. It’s still hard to live through the trial, but I have to be faithful to pursue God and His will in the midst of it.

  • http://twitter.com/cupojoegirl Eileen Knowles

    Great perspective shifting question!  Another question I’ve learned to ask which is similar:  What can I learn from this?   Those times in my life when my plans are drastically interrupted  usually end up being the biggest growth seasons in my life. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great one too. Here’s a slight tweak to that question that I use.: “What do I have to learn from this, so I don’t have to repeat the lesson again?”

  • http://dogfuranddandelions.com/ Elizabeth @ DogFurandDandelion

    So true. Just wrote about a similar way of looking at things – about seeing opportunities rather than limiations – here: http://ow.ly/dLn5x

  • http://www.threedimensionalvitality.com/ Ann Musico

    Your post goes perfectly with something I just read in a letter from Jerry Savelle:  Life has everything to do with the PR factor.  The PR factor is how your Perceie and React.  Life is good or bad depending on how you perceive the challenges and how you react to them.  

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Perceive and React. Great insight.

  • Hein

    Dear Michael
    One of our members passed away an hour ago and this post challenged me and the family about the future, not the past. Thanks!  

  • Ktssaberon

    Ecclesiastes 9:11 (NKJV)
     I returned and saw under the sun that—The race is not to the swift,Nor the battle to the strong,Nor bread to the wise,Nor riches to men of understanding,Nor favor to men of skill;But time and chance happen to them all.
     

  • http://www.cindyfinley.com/ Cindy Finley

    What a great question!  For years I’ve seen life’s events through the lens of God’s sovereignty and found great peace in that.  But this question takes it from the baseline of looking for blessing in every situation to proactively partnering with God to actively experience his hand of grace in the day-to-day.  Thanks!

  • http://cherylbarker.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Barker

    Love this question and approach, Michael! This is definitely a keeper. And you’re right — all it takes is a subtle shift in thinking to change everything. Thanks for sharing this. 

  • http://marleeward.com/ Marlee

    I love this, Michael. Sometimes it’s so difficult to do in the moment, but when you can train yourself to respond to crisis (or any challenge) this way, you grow so much faster in the right direction. The other day I heard John Maxwell say that the only thing you can control is your attitude, and in my experience it’s true. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      John is so right!

  • http://www.dancollingridge.com/ Dan Collingridge

    Such a great example of positive thinking in the face of trial. Also a good reminder that we should be more patient with ourselves and with others.

  • Dawn Wilson

    I had the same experience … also with a broken ankle. My stressed out, Type-A+ personality allowed me to create overload in every area of life, and I believe God ‘allowed’ me this experience to slow me down and show me how much I need Him in my daily routine. Thanks for this “right question” truth, Michael.

    I also noticed, at the end of the newsletter you sent, the story about Wheat Belly. I’ve been wheat-free for a month now. Never felt better… never more productive.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnSug John Sugden

    Thank you for sharing this, it was just what I needed this morning.

    By the way, I’m a new reader to your blog–did you ever write a post on the new perspective you gained from your surgeon on integrating faith with your profession?  I’d love to read more about it.  Right now I am in a funk in my career, not knowing how to find meaning from 8 to 5 every day, and think your experience could be very inspiring.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      No, I’m afraid not, but I probably should!

  • Moveyourbodyeveryday

    I broke my ankle on Wed. so to receive this in my inbox today has been a gift! My new mantra while being forced to slow down… “what does this experience make possible?”~ THANK YOU!

    • Rachel Lance

      Amen for God’s timing! Best to you as you rest and heal that ankle and make the most of this new opportunity.

  • Rick Barry

    Back in June I collided with a wooden bench (oak!) in Ukraine while working in a Christian children’s camp. Ended up getting a hematoma below the knee, which eventually sent me to a Ukrainian army hospital for surgery. Like you, I was slowed down for a while. In the meantime, others on the team on I was leading gained opportunities to step up to plate and practice leadership. Also, the pain helped me to better sympathize with others, especially folks who must walk slowly for various reasons. I also sold a devotional article on the incident. So, painful, yes, but also beneficial!

  • Virginia Smith

    This really resonated with me, since I stepped off a porch 3 months ago and broke my ankle – a plate ane 8 screws to fix mine. I am accumulating my own list of good results of the break. Thanks for sharing yours!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       Ouch! Care to share some of your good results?

  • Shelia

    Mike, I am grateful you and Gail have taught me to ask this question. I confess, sometimes I do it through gritted teeth. I have done it this weekend.

    A long awaited sabbatical in the mountains has been complicated by my mutinous Jeep. It has spent almost the whole of my time here in hospital and still eludes diagnosis. After pouting and asking the first series of questions, I forced myself to ask this one.

    Yesterday I rode a trolley to three different trailheads and managed to get in 15 miles of forested bliss. And had wonderful conversations with my precious trolley driver.

    Today I wait for answers about when I will be able to get home. But I wait in openness and expectation for serendipitous moments and encounters.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good for you Shelia. It’s much easier to ask it in the abstract. The real test—as you are learning—is when you are in the thick of it. Thanks.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com/ Paul B Evans

    Hi Michelle,

    No doubt! Enjoyed your article about Sharp Edges.

    As far as my story (Michael – remove links if inappropriate)…

    http://paulbevans.com/about/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3jSankkbcM The full story is in that keynote address.

    Peace,
    P

  • http://JaredLatigo.com/ Jared Latigo

    Although I’ve never been in that exact situation (with the same responsibilities and all) I have been in a similar one where I was in a hospital bed for weeks on end. I was really too young at the time to take advantage of the situation but looking back I would have handled it differently. 

    And it’s a lot of what has brought me to where I am today. Sometimes our plans aren’t the same as the one we’re supposed to be following. Wait, that’s wrong. Our plans are almost never the same as the right one. Thanks for sharing your story, it helps me to understand the power of sharing mine just that much more. 

  • Jeanette

    I really needed this today, Michael. Thank you!

  • http://www.efficientlifeskills.com/ Joseph Michael

    Great article. Attitude really is everything. There is something to be gained from every experience in life whether good or bad. Thanks for sharing this example with us. It is a great reminder to keep the right perspective. Not always easy like you said but so important.

  • http://www.jaysonfeltner.com/ Jayson Feltner

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! Yesterday was just one of those days where nothing seemed to go right and the work never ended. As I previewed my weekly schedule, a Sunday evening routine for me, I knew I had to shift my thinking and pull myself out of my “stinkin thinkin.”

    This post has further helped me accept the challenges that lie ahead for the week.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

       Jayson,
      I hate those kind of days. I find if I don’t do some sort of “shift” by the end of a bad day it has the power to contaminate the following day—so I try to make sure I shift my thinking by the end of the day.

  • Pingback: A Question That Changes Everything |

  • http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/ Chuck Frey

    Everything happens for a reason, often to teach us something. My wife and I call them “God-incidences,” and we’ve learned to become attuned to them!

  • http://www.toddliles.com/ Todd Liles

    Michael,  I had a very recent experience in my life when things changed very fast.  In a matter of 24 hours I went from Doctor’s office to Surgery.  Jim Collins says that sometimes we have time to really access the risk, and other times we don’t.  So, I can relate!  This is my personal experience over at my site. http://toddliles.com/how-to-handle-the-stress-of-emergency-surgery.html

  • Lori

    Wow. Wow. Wow. You always post helpful and insightful information, but this is flat-out life changing. I’m going to make a t-shirt and art piece for our home with this question. Thank you! I’ll be posting this in my blog for sure.

  • Tim McDonnell

    One of your best ever, Mr. Michael. You’ve highlighted a way of thinking and a way of seeing that allows the miraculous to enter our lives. Many thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/thejoshbjones Joshua Brandon Jones

    This is a great perspective. It is said that the chinese symbol for crisis is composed of the symbols for danger and opportunity.  I love that view.  It gives me the opportunity to take courage and move forward where I might not do so otherwise.  Thanks for the encouragement Michael!

    • Rachel Lance

      Interesting illustration – thanks for sharing & helping drive this post a little deeper!

  • Jeffery Weita

    What a brilliant post!  Thanks for being open and sharing from your place of vulnerabilities and giving us a nugget of truth that we can meditate on and implement in our lives. 
    Blessings to you! 

  • http://twitter.com/CarmeloBryan Carmelo Bryan

    This post needed a video to go along with it Michael … next time, okay?  ;-)

  • Regginald Kembo

    Quite an inspiring article. Will go a long way in helping me deal with the negative experiences that happen. Thank you Michael

  • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

    I love this Michael, “you can’t always choose what happens to you ..but you can choose how you respond to those situations”.

    It’s what God says, doesn’t matter what we go through, He’ll be with us. He doesn’t promise painfree days, but guarantees His presence through it all.

    When we keep that perspective, we can weather all storms.

    Great thoughts.

  • http://twitter.com/SayBumpandTweet Mary Kathryn Johnson

    Michael ~ Take your experience one step further…

    You are 8 months pregnant, and you fall down three steps and break bones in both legs.  This actually happened to me, and as I was reading your post, I felt a strong sense of familiarity!  Having to go through labor, delivery, the care of my newborn, toddler, husband and home, all while hopping around with the help of a walker because I have casts up to the knee on both legs brought me to your exact same conclusions with one very important addition…with the help of my sense of humor I realized if I could get through this, I could do anything!  I started my first business 18 months later.  Thanks for sharing your experience, and how it changed your life!

    Cheers! – from one former hobbler to another!

  • http://c3journey.com/ Dave

    By switching from the negative questions to the positive you moved into a faith zone of “what can I do/learn from this situation”. It is much better to be looking forward from the situation instead of drowning in it. 

  • toddstocker

    Yikes!  That’s gotta hurt.  I’ve found the former questions are our natural gut-reactions.  It takes and intentional choosing to ask the later question to move forward and learn.  Thanks for all you do!

  • frugalportland

    I needed to read this post today. Thanks. Your version of the story — “I seem to have made a mess” — is cute, and quite the opposite of many, many folks in a similar situation.

    • Rachel Lance

      Yes, Michael gave more than one example of shifting perspective, didn’t he?

      • frugalportland

        Yes indeed! I just like how different he is — most of my circle of friends would have had to (expletive deleted) that story!

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Negative consequences are powerful motivators if we are willing to look them in the eye. The older I get and the more history I have behind me, the more this blog post has come true. It’s still not easy, but your question is a powerful one…

    • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

      I created a failure checklist a while back which ties in real well with this post. It asks four simple questions, which can help turn failure into future success. http://goals4u.us/PSPVB8

  • Jack Lynady

    Nice read Michael. Reminds me of the Chinese parable about the farmer. Seemingly “bad” things keep happening and then seemingly “good” things keep happening to him. He just keeps living and telling others, “We’ll see.”

  • http://www.newequus.wordpress.com/ Mindy @ New Equus

    I had the same thing happen six months ago while I was out of town for a marketing seminar. I am so used to doing things for myself it was hard to ask for help. Fortunately I learned to ask quickly! Flying home by yourself with a broken foot, a heavy laptop bag and a suitcase you aren’t left with much choice but to rely on others!

  • David Bean

    Thanx for this. Just what I needed to hear today.

  • http://twitter.com/_salam_ Kevin Bushnell

    I love your honest self-assesment, Michael.  It seems to pervade the reflection you give to your writing.  Your question here changes the nature of questioning from a negative point of view to a positive one.  Excellent as always. Congratulations, as well, on your new WordPress Theme. Love it!

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  • http://www.timbiden.com/ Tim Biden

    That is a great question to ask instead of the same old “Why” questions that simply point all fingers either at yourself or at God. As you say they are unproductive. 

    Asking  yourself, “What does this experience make possible?” gives you the ability to see it as a gift, a way of getting a new and better perspective. We all need to start asking this question a whole lot more.

    Thank you!

    • Rachel Lance

      It’s great what impact this simple yet key question can have, isn’t it?

      • http://www.timbiden.com/ Tim Biden

        It is. Such a simple question can create such a profound difference in your mind. The only difficult part of it is remembering which question to ask when the vicious old questions pop up.

  • http://www.skipprichard.com/ Skip Prichard

    A powerful lesson and question.  What happened to you shows that one small step can change your direction, your perspective and your future!

    (I also must add that it’s just like Gail to step right in to help.  She could also have had a few questions or comments for you.  Instead of adding to the problem, she chose to be part of the solution.)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Gail is the most consistently positive person I know. She really gives me an unfair advantage in life. ;-)

  • Pat Wood

    You are a remarkable person.
    Knew an elderly lady once who broke her arm while in France.
    She viewed it as a great way to check out the French health service.
    Finding the positive in something is always good, always amazing and always extremely hard.
    Well done you.
     

  • Agz

    It helps to take a new perspective in being willing to see the gifts from a negative experience, and change it into a positive one.
    Thank you Micheal.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Love this! For the past three years I’ve had various health issues. There are days I don’t do much but lay in bed because that’s all I can do. There are days I simply don’t have the energy to blow dry my hair. But.. I know this is just a season. Through these rough times, I’ve been blessed with a job that allows me to work from home, wrote a book from the comforts of my bed, have made amazing social media connections, and have used social media as a ministry. 

    Some days I still see the glass as half empty, but not near as much as I used to. 

    • Rachel Lance

      Way to go, not letting circumstances get the best of you and turning a hurdle into a launch!

      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Thanks Rachel. 

  • http://giveflowerswhileliving.wordpress.com/ Jsbnew

    Michael, that is right on time for my life at the moment. Because of my business partner’s mild stroke, two lives are entirely changed. Over the 33 days since it happened, I’ve gone through the entire gamut of emotions. Although I know what I should do, it’s hard to get done. You just solved that issue with the question – What does this experience make possible? Thank you, and God Bless You. PS – I have a memorial for that person, found at http://giveflowerswhileliving.wordpress.com/
    – Give Me My Flowers While I Live. 

  • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

    Great stuff in here.
    My students, who work in teams, have an exercise where they discuss the Choice Map, something put out by the Inquiry Institute. It puts our questions in the “Learner” perspective or in the “Judger” point of view. So far, I’ve found it to be an easy and visual way to get this kind of conversation going with at team.

  • http://www.davidhpeterson.com/ David H Peterson

    Yes! Thanks for this Michael. It is exactly the question I need to be asking during this current season of life and ministry. 

  • http://twitter.com/Linnette Linnette R Mullin

    Excellent post, Michael! Thank you for sharing. :D

  • Keith L. Bell

    Oh my gosh! Right as this post got to the question, “What does this experience make possible?”, I felt an incredible weight begin to lift off me!

    Thank you for this super-timely post!

    • Rachel Lance

      That’s great, Keith! So glad the post reached you right where you are. Thinking of you as you wrestle with what’s possible now. Keep us posted!

  • Jo – Stellarpoint

    Great reminder today Michael – as always your message comes at a perfect time… Love the way you weave simple -and very powerful concepts into everyday life.  That is what it is all abut… have a wonderful week everyone…

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  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    Another great post, Michael.
     I had a similar accident in January. I tore my ACL downhill skiing and had it repaired in March. It was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I had lots of down time to get my heart right with God, absorb some wonderful Godly teaching, and work on my writing skills. God’s ways are definitely not our ways. We should avoid the very real temptation to put Him in a box.

  • http://twitter.com/KarinaAtTheSeed Karina Elizabeth

    You have no idea how much I needed this today.  With a dissertation defense looming, a broken relationship to overcome, and new pressures and a new job, this is a great change of perspective. Thank you!

    • Rachel Lance

      So glad the post was helpful, Karina. Best to you in your dissertation defense!

  • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

    Loved the post! By the way, the font you have now is really a lot better! It is bigger and easier to read. Love the new theme!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. I loved the size too. So many blogs use a ridiculously small font.

      • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

        I agree! Mine is probably a little too small. I would like it bigger, but it isn’t as small as most of the smaller font blogs out there. Looking forward to the release of your new theme!

      • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

         Agree!

  • http://www.BeElevated.blogspot.co.uk/ Joe Akuoko II

    Great attitude Michael. I believe the way forward when you encounter awkward situations is not to begin the blame game but rather to ask yourselves this – “how do i….”? Or better still how to…”as they open your eye to a lot of hither to possibilities you wouldn’t have had. 

  • http://www.coachingreallyworks.com/ Abe S.

    I love this post.

    To many, it may seem you are ignoring the reality of the situation with “positive thinking fluff”.

    While we may not have control over what happens to us we do have control over how we react and it’s those reactions that shape the reality of our situation.

    Asking the right questions is one of the best ways I know of taking control of a situation and reaching the outcome we desire. The mind has not choice but to answer and as your question implied there were new possibilities and you found them.

    This is a great self-coaching tool.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      I agree, Abe. The question isn’t fluff. It is discovering the art of possibility.

  • Expectation Coach Brian

    Gosh, I trult hate being the wet blanket here, especially when I do agree with much of the post and appreciate the comments and feedback.  My criticism is of the “changes everything” hyperbole.  I am so tired of this statement, used in book titles, magazine articles, headlines, etc.  It is simply over-the-top language that detracts from the message.  We know it does not change everything, it simply changes some important things.  And that is fine.  So when I come across a heading like this one for the blog, I was really ready to pass it by, which would have been a shame.  Sorry to nit-pick, but as effective communicators, hyperbole can be a wonderful tool.  In this case, however, it is an irritant, and a highly unnecessary one, at that.

  • Rachel Lance

    Thanks for your thoughts, Brian, even the challenging one! You’re right, the word choice in the title is a extreme, but to that end I think it does what a title is supposed to do: catch eyes and entice readers to click and read more. But perhaps, by changing your perspective, asking this strategic but simple question really does change everything.

  • Bruce Cross

    Thank you for that profound reminder!  Opens the mind to so many more avenues!

  • http://www.DiscreetInvestors.com/blog Roger King

    Having been a long-time Tony Robbins fan and inspired by his ‘power of questions’ teachings, I always use the question, “What’s GREAT about this?” It helps turn my head around when it’s needed the most.  Glad to see you’re a proponent of empowering questions, too!!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great question too. Thanks.

  • Rory K. Peebles

    The Mortgage Meltdown of 2008 and job loss in the mortgage field for over 20 years: What does this experience make possible for me?  Well, I wouldn’t have heard about Michael Hyatt and read his Blog. New doors of opportunity opened for my wife and I at Thomas Nelson Live Events working on the Women Of Faith tour. The experience has made it possible to meet Andy Andrews, Chance Scoggins and others.  The experience made it possible for me to discover the notible work of Dave Ramsey, Jon Acuff, Dan Miller and several others.  Today, I’m pursuing my dreams and my passions…excited to see where the Lord leads!

  • http://thisissarabrown.blogspot.com/ Sara Brown

    In general, all your posts make an impact on me… this one no less!  And I figured I’d finally write to let you know that there’s a  homemaker/mommy/pastor’s wife/speaker up in Canada who follows you closely and appreciates the wisdom found in your writing.

  • Greg Berry

    Ha. I have never broken a bone in my body… except  in my foot… twice…. same bone. Both times I was taking stairs at speed!

    I have a saying about negatives, “this could be the best “worst thing” that ever happened to me”.

  • http://twitter.com/PhinehasK Phinehas Kinuthia

    This is a great paradigm shift question. Most times we respond to crisis based upon the inadequate information of the moment mostly because of fear. This question unlocks possibilities instead of fear or panic. It awakens faith on the possibilities of good things coming out of bad situations. Thank you for sharing your personal story.  Two years ago my wife shared the best news with me that we were expecting our first baby. I was so excited about this and started planning for the baby’s arrival buying all the baby stuff. A month into this great news I lost my job of 7 years, at the same time had to deal with critical illness of our mother in law who had stage 4 cancer. Looking back in retrospect
    I see how my job loss allowed me more time to be there for my family through the
    tough times. I also got more time to pray for direction in my life to start pursuing
    God’s purpose for my life. Today, losing my job was the greatest thing that happened
    to me it positioned me to start pursuing my call. I can see how this question would have helped strengthen my faith.

  • http://www.dmleblanc.com/ Dustin LeBlanc

    A learning experience in everything right?

  • http://jennyrain.com/ JennyRain

    Love this post – it is so timely in my life!

    In 2005 I took a group of women who had just endured hurricane Katrina through a study on identity in Christ. God took one of the women through a significant transformation. As a result, instead of bemoaning what happened to her, she took the opportunity for some much needed growth. The most poignant act she took was changing her voicemail message to this…

    “Hi this is [her name]. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have decided to make some changes in my life. If I do not call you back, you are one of those changes.”

    It was a defining moment for her in that it taught her (and me!) how to embrace change as a welcome guest instead of an intruder.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Thanks for sharing this story, Jenny.

  • http://www.andytraub.com/ Andy Traub

    Ian Morgan Cron tells a great story about Gail asking him that question on our second episode of his podcast. It’s such a great question. Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I remember hearing that episode. It was great.

  • John Jolley

    Very interesting way to re-frame. It reminds me of Christopher Avery’s work and his Responsibility Process where when something happens we go through the steps of Denial, Blame, Justification, Shame, Obligation, and finally Responsibility.

  • http://DavidHelmsBlog.com/ David Helms

    Brilliant truth. Looking to redeem a negative experience. We are all called to do that everyday for ourselves and for others. 

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  • http://www.apprenticeshipofbeinghuman.com/ Graham Scharf

    Thanks for the wisdom, Michael. I’m curious: Have you read Andy Crouch’s book Culture Making? Of every cultural artifact he asks four questions:

    1. What does this assume about the way the world is?
    2. What does it assume about the way the would should be?
    3. What does it make possible? (Which you applied to your broken ankle!)
    4. What does it make impossible, or at least more difficult?

    Looking at your work, I think that there are a host of positive answers to these questions in looking at your work, your book, and this blog post in particular!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I have not Graham, but you are the second person to recommend it to me. Thanks.

  • http://dannielsencompany.com/ Dan Nielsen

    Incredible that such a powerful story can emerge from an unfortunate clumsy moment – it’s all about perspective and attitude!

    Each of our days are filled with moments that could be frustrating annoyances, or priceless opportunities. Stuck in traffic? An opportunity to look out your window and notice the blue sky and sunlit clouds you so often miss. Long line at Starbucks? Maybe it’s your chance to compliment the person in front of you and bring a smile to a face before the workday starts. Internet connection too slow? Take it as an excuse to get away from your desk and engage in face-to-face conversation with your direct reports.What moments lie in front of you today that could be transformed into positive opportunities if only you were to shift your perspective?

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/aaron/ Aaron Johnson

       Dan, you just reframed my drive home today ;)

  • Anita

    As someone whose husband had a bad bicycle accident, with hospital time, wheelchair, crutches, and all the rest, I really appreciated your story. It makes you much more empathetic to those with a disability.

  • Drnitikakundu

    wowwww…. love dis one

  • http://www.micheledortch.com/ Michele Dortch

    Wow, such a powerful and loving question to ask when filled with fear, uncertainty and pain. I also see its applications when life is going splendidly. Every experience, good and bad, offers us opportunities to grow and become better people. Thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.changevolunteers.org/ Change Volunteer

    Like my boss says, only if you lose your piece of cake and give it to a hungry person, then you feel from inside that you have done something worthy! If you still have more cake left, it doesn’t satisfy the purpose! Also, this real incident reminds me of a management story I was taught during training for shifting of thoughts, it does help. Thanks Michael for reminding me. 

  • http://www.pauljolicoeur.com/ Paul Jolicoeur

    We are always in control of our response even when we are not in control of the stimulus. We can’t blame ____ (fill in the blank), for our thoughts, attitudes, decisions and behavior. Its not the governments fault, your boss or your spouse. Only you control what you do and say. There is always a best in every situation, our challenge is to find it. Great stuff Michael and thank you for the post.

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  • chipbrown

    Our ways are not His ways.

    (Isa 55:8)

  • Lex

    Oh my gosh, did I need to read this today. I cried twice in two hours this morning. Thank you so much.

  • Bert Savarese

    I am sitting here, having heard the news that anti-american protests are going on in Thailand and Singapore. My son and a friend are on vacation & currently in Viet Nam and will be in Singapore in 6 days.  As a mom, this news has been startling and frightening. I have sent him an email and message on his FB account, telling him what is going on (I have no idea whether he is watching the news or not)…. but I asked myself the question you asked with this in mind:  What does this experience make possible?   My first thought was to put me on my knees, asking for safety and protection for the guys.  Second, it brings me back to reading God’s word for comfort – to go to my Father because I am helpless to do anything – and He hears my words, fears, concerns, and my asking for protection around them.  I don’t know what will happen… but I am praying for the best outcome… and that no matter what happens, my son the atheist, will come to know Jesus and submit to Him.  I have asked my FB friends and family to please pray for them.  This can have any kind of outcome but I am praying for the best that will always bring my son to Jesus.  If you feel the sense to pray for John and Eric, would you please?  Thank you.

  • Katina

    Sorry for the delay in commending, Michael. Great comments by all! 
    Your letter could have been written by me. You did however a much better job than I would have. :) 
    In 14 years I had 2 major hip replacements and 2 revisions, one of which left me in the wheel chair for over two months.
    God knew when to put a stop to my frenzy, take my feet away, and sit me down to rethink my life, set my priorities in order, and definitely “smell the roses.” Actually, My first revision is what started me journaling to heal my life…which turned to the book I am editing now.
    Thanks for validating what I know and have written about. All my best!
    God bless everyone!

  • jryan2445

    I love the Taoist story of an old farmer who had used an old horse to work his
    crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his
    neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. ”Maybe,”
    the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three
    other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.”Maybe,” replied the
    old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was
    thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on
    his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials
    came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg
    was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how
    well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.

    • Katina

      Great story J. Thanks for bringing it on…I had forgoten it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That is an awesome story!

  • jacqueline gillam fairchild

    Dear Michael:  After reading about your fall I can say how lucky you were not to break your neck or hurt your brain.  Your ankle ultimately has mended, though I am sure like my knee replacements, there are times you are reminded of your accident….still….I am sure at the time thoughts of how much worse it could have been were the farthest thing from your mind.  The perspective it has given you is priceless—the help you have given to so many people you will more than likely never meet—again, priceless.   You are my quiet inspiration. 
    Warm regards
    Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild

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  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    My car caught on fire last night.  Literally.  I was coming home from work and  I decided to take a detour to the cigar shop.  I go in have my smoke watch Auction hunters and then someone came out and said.  “Someone’s car is on fire.”  I’m all like…  Nah… not mine.  Then something prompted me to go and look.

    It was mine.

    I didn’t even have the urge to get angry or sad.  I more started thinking about what comes next. Talked with the fire and police officers, extracted my phone from the car an the books, finished my cigar and waited for the tow truck.

    After the tow truck came.  I went and had a martini and then my wife picked me.

    I guess the big take away is to be expect the best, be prepared for the worst and don’t get to attached to material possessions.

  • Mikelknudsen

    Great article, really appreciate the opportunity for reading it

  • Leigh A Hudson

    As a therapist, I hear many clients ask the “why” questions. And for a while they are necessary. However I prefer to ask the “what” question…”what are you going to do in response…” you said it well Michael. Great post.

    • Jim Martin

      Leigh, I love the simple way you express these two questions.  Thanks!

  • Fay Rowe

    In 2001, a couple of weeks after breast cancer surgery, I visited my daughter at her university. We stayed up till the wee hours while she listened to me grieve my wasted life. When I ran out of steam, she gave me my life from her point of view, which was a much more generous perspective than mine had been. My heart lifted. Then she did for me what you just did. She set my eyes in the right direction, the future, by asking,”But what now, Momma? What are you going to do now?” Since then I have written three books and have been active in public speaking and somewhat active in media.

    Today I am three weeks and two days past a horrendous 10 hour surgery, and just recieved this article from my daughter.

    Thank you.

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  • Brent

    Your article really helped me rethink Romans 8:28. If I actually believed that truth, then why do I get so angry all of the time? :-} 

    My job is pretty stressful, and it does lead to immersing myself into all of the negative questions. But thanks to your article, I think I see my attitude a bit more clearly now. 

  • http://twitter.com/journeydeeper Joye

    I really enjoyed this post for two reasons:
    1 – I walked a very similar path, I broke my ankle when we had a storm 3.5 years back; we lost power and I thought “I’ll take a lantern over to our elderly neighbors” and on the way over hit some muddy grass, slipped, and *crack* I broke my ankle in two places; It was such a bad break I had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance and emergency surgery the next morning. They joked w/ me in the hospital that no good deed goes unpunished. It was a challenging time, but I learned a lot and felt that was a season where God allowed me to slow down enough to dream more, to appreciate small things I had completely taken for granted and just in general grow much closer to God. 2- The post also reminds me of my Grandma, she used to always say “We never know where life is going to take us or what is going to happen, but all we can do is make the best of it.”  She lived this out fully, in spite of having many, many challenges (more than most folks), such as losing her mom at a young age (3), a very beloved brother drowned, my grandpa died before I was born through a freak work accident, plus many, many other trials. Yet, through it all, she was able to live by this ‘ism of making the best of what was thrown at her, learning the lessons, keeping a positive future focus, it was amazing and I learned so very much from her.

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks very much Joye for your comment and for sharing these words regarding your painful break and the story of your Grandma.

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  • Cyndi Seifried

    I agree 100% Michael, I have had much personal loss in my life and I have always asked myself what did I learn or get to experience from this happening.   It has always provided me an option to feel something positive through a difficult experience and has allowed me to learn a significant amount about myself and my resiliency and ability to adapt.    Even if you don’t believe that things happen for a reason, or believe in fate, it is still healthy to look at the situation and determine what did I learn from that.   You will always find you learned something, that will make you better going forward.

  • http://www.facebook.com/budgetmindedorganics Laura Black Caprioni

    Hey Michael, great article.  It’s true, we usually do take a “victim” role when things don’t go according to plan.  Instantly shifting our perspective and being grateful can change everything.  I most especially liked your reference to your new diet.  I’ve been following GMO foods and its affect on our hrslyh for years.  Wheat is not what it once was; in fact, most of our foods are not what they once were.  It’s time to get back to basics, all natural, organic and homemade foods.  If we can’t get GMO labeling, at least we can know what is in our food if we grow it and cook it ourselves.

  • specwriter

    Michael, very nice article. 

    I’m reminded of another author, Victor Frankl’s  (Auschwitz concentration camp survivor) quotation regarding one’s attitude under diress (and that that can not be taken away from you): Man always retains “the last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”

  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    I am currently going through a similar experience.  I didn’t break any bones. Last week my car’s engine block literally caught on fire.  I’m fine, and I wasn’t too worked up about it.  However, it has afforded me the opportunity to do better with my time resources and how to work with two of us having one car.  Out of adversity comes the seed of benefit one has said.

  • http://twitter.com/ellavenezianow Ella Venezia

    Michael-  What a great perspective as a reminder to us all that no one escapes accidents/tragedies, but we can all choose to reframe their purpose in our lives.  You distilled this so clearly. I also have had a few “slow down and smell the roses” incidents in my life [and yes including broken bones ;) ]. They always appear to come at a perfectly appointed time :) 
    ~Ella

  • mcnairwilson

    Great Question, Michael!

    My wise, professional educator dad always asked (when something “bad” happened) what will we learn from this? “I can’t wait to see how the Good Lord uses this to teach us something.” 

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  • Brian Ahearn

    Loved the story Michael. I had a similar experience this spring when I broke my ankle. I wrote about it from the perspective of maintaining a positive mental attitude in the persuasion process.  Brian

    http://influence-people-brian.blogspot.com/2012/04/positive-mental-attitude-is-essential.html

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  • http://twitter.com/LMarni Marni Gallerneault

    I love this. I hope I don’t forget this. As soon as I ask that question in light of some of my challenges, all tension melts away. It’s a question that opens up possibilities instead of the questions that shut doors. Thanks for sharing a great perspective!

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  • http://walkwiththewise.wordpress.com/ Gail

    The best question I’ve ever been asked is “How is that working for you?” Whether the situation is negative or positive it makes me take a mental step back and consider if this situation is the best it can be and how I can improve it.

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  • http://www.DadsCount.com/ Jim Ray

    Thanks for another great post Michael.  The freedom you gain from such a simple change might mean the difference between being held back by something you can’t control and finding a way to gain control over what you’ll accomplish next.  Most of our biggest challenges seem to often come down to a simple word:  Attitude!

  • Sherylcb

    Thank you! I got into a car accident, deemed my fault. It happened outside a homeless shelter. Fortunately, my $1000 deductible & impending insurance cost hike, won’t make me homeless. Talk about humbling. Workers came out to comfort me in my semi hysterical state. I shall be volunteering or donating. The guy likely speeding with his supposed right of way & expensive car, probably never even asked about those that ran out of the building to help. That is not for me, I know that & am grateful for the reminder as I walked away unscathed.

  • Thomas Perry

    Excellent topic and perspective Michael, quite timely for me. Seems like I have a hundred things to do all high priority. I to have coffee in one hand whatever in the other so the one trip does it all. This helps me reflect. Thank you may God continue to inspire your writing.
    Thomas

  • Ronnie Ding

    Sorry – Ronnie again. The newsletter is an internal circulation about 80 copies. Thanks

  • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

    Thanks for your interest, Ronnie. My official Permissions Policy is here.

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  • Martha Ramirez

    WOW! I LOVED this! My poor cousin just lost her baby girl and  although you are not talking about grieving. I think this statement can apply. Thank you for this!

    But you can choose how you respond to those situations.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Martha,
      My thoughts and prayers go out to your cousin and her family.

  • McKenna

    I have been dancing since I could walk. I was on a competitive team for years. I have recently discovered that I have Ankle Valgus and can no longer dance. I will be going to physical therapy (again) and surgery might be a possibility. I would be in a wheelchair for 6 months if the surgery has to happen. I will not be able to dance until this is fixed. I’ve been asking “Why me?” and your article has helped me to cope with this. Thank you for your gift of clarity and your story. By the way, I’m only 16. 

  • TRICIA LUGO

    Thank you Michael, I am so glad you are better. There are so many experiences that God teaches me to have Joy in God’s Will even when life has it’s ups and downs. Having two adult children at home because of colege or life; also with their children, I am learning this more. What I have come to realize is the more I accept this the more I experience God’s joy & strength to get me through. My life style is different, but it God’s principals are great for all of us. Thank you again, TRICIA LUGO

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  • http://twitter.com/MarcieFAtkins Marcie F Atkins

    I think I often run through this in my mind: If this good thing happens to me, then I get to do this, this, and this. After reading this, I have rephrased. If this good thing doesn’t happen to me, what experiences will I get to have? I actually made a list of them. Now I feel better regardless of what happens.

  • Judy Brizendine

    Thanks for a wonderful article, Michael–and for posing this specific question! It’s not a question typically posed when accidents or tragedies happen, but it’s an important one that opens up all sorts of new ideas, and sets our minds in a productive, positive direction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laureenandbrian Laureen Collette Vollmer

    Great Article!

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  • Debw1964

    My husband had an affair and ultimately left me for the other woman.
    I have decided that this experience as awful as it has been has made me realize just how strong I AM and that I haven’t given myself enough credit in the past and it is high time I realized how special I am! :)

    • JoW1963

      I’ve been where you are too. I love my life now and realize that I did not belong with him. My faith is my heart. You are doing SO wonderful. Happy to have you as a sister at The Well.

  • GodChaser

    We recently moved into our facility’s and the roof needs to be replaced($114.000 to be exact). We went in, cleaned up, and setup shop. It has been a record breaking season for rain. For two months we have used squeegees to clean up the rain inside building. This last rain took it out of my family. I say my family because when we moved in to building all our members resigned. WoW, is right. In this desert I had a chance to think and BELIEVE God for More, a reason, the purpose. The right position and posture, matters.

  • http://www.missionalyouthministry.com/ Robbie Mackenzie

    Thanks for this post and your willingness to be open. I have not read the comment thread so sorry if this is redundant but there is a certain bit of control we have in situations like these. When things go awry we become discombobulated because things are out of our control. Instead, as you alluded to, why don’t we play the cards that are dealt to us in terms of opportunity, blessing and (from a Christian perspective) a reason to glorify God. Heal well sir.

  • http://www.journeytowardsmaturity.com/ Danielle Street

    Great post! I confess to beating myself up with negative questions when something goes wrong. Thank you for encouraging me to ask instead, “What does this experience make possible?” “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

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  • http://www.leavingconformitycoaching.com/ Randy Crane

    This reminds me of something very similar that happened to Walt Disney when he was a child. He had received a pair of boots he’d desperately wanted one year for Christmas. His very first time wearing them, as he walked home he kicked blocks of ice along his path, but inside one was a rusty horseshoe nail. His foot was stuck; his precious boots had to be cut off; and he was laid up for two weeks.

    While he was stuck at home on the couch, unable to go to school and with no radio or other forms of entertainment, all Walt could do was read or sketch cartoons in a big pad given him by his aunt. The spark ignited and the rest is history.

    Thank you for this often-needed reminder.

  • Kristi Bothur

    I didn’t have the words that you used here at the time, but this is how my thinking gradually shifted after we lost our daughter in my 18th week of pregnancy. The “why” questions abounded, but gradually my thoughts shifted from finding the “reason” we lost our baby to the “purpose” of her life and mine. Two more losses followed in the next eighteen months, and today my husband and I have a growing ministry (www.naomiscircle.org) to other parents who have lost a baby in pregnancy or infancy. What did our experience make possible? It gave us the perspective necessary to reach out to others with the comfort with which we were comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:3-4) and the hope of Jesus Christ.

  • http://serstkov.com/ Justas Serstkovas

    Brilliant post Michael! Just had to schedule it for Friday’s tweet/post. Thanks a lot for sharing your story. I get amazing amount of inspiration and super useful information from you.

  • http://aaroncouch.me/ Aaron Couch

    Thank you so much for sharing this insight Michael! And although I’ve thought the same, probably my whole life, I still fail to apply it. I’m currently struggling myself — thoughts from personal things overwhelm my mind and keep me from being productive. I struggle to accomplish much work since what I do is write and I’m sitting at a desk all day. I need a change in perspective — I believe that’s the only way to overcome this obstacle, but I still struggle with how I can obtain that.

  • cam garven

    my daughter was in a car accident and was killed in May and although tragic can we know she’s in heaven it does give us opportunities to share the gospel and the ministry’s that she was involved with

  • Robert Iversen

    What does this experience make possible? It is a huge question and one I’m trying to get to this after experiencing the first lay off in my life. I’m still reeling, but I know this where I need to go. This is the place I have to come to. It’s just hard. Good article and challenge.

  • Matt Parkins

    Whether a bad event is part of God’s plan as you suggest, or whether God is so powerful that he can redeem & use any event for good (as I suggest) is not the basis of this changed attitude and adopting better questions and looking for how God can use it.

    You don’t need to accept that bad events are part of a plan, or that every bad thing is designed with a good purpose, in order to change your attitude as you rightly did.

  • Damon

    Thanks Michael, LOVE the question and shift in thinking! I work for a company that recently announced our HQ (including my job) would be moving to another part of the country. I saw a wide range of emotions from co-workers that day. By focusing on my faith in God, your question, and ultimately a different mindset, I’m at peace with this change and whatever comes out of it. There are options to prayerfully consider, and time to do that before each of us needs to make a final decision. Thanks again for this insight!

  • http://www.parententrepreneursuccess.com/ Mary Kathryn Johnson

    I know exactly how you felt, Michael, and I asked the same questions when I fell and broke both my legs (a bone in my left ankle and a bone in my right foot) when I was 8 months pregnant!

    Hopping around with the help of a walker, and needing the help of a bedside commode, I told myself, “If I can go through labor and delivery, care for a newborn, toddler, husband and home with a cast on each leg up to the knee…I CAN DO ANYTHING!”

    I started my first business, MommyLoves 18 months later.

    At first I was very depressed, but when the casts came off, and I could walk around holding my newborn (now 6 weeks old) I gained some perspective (and sleep). I don’t consider this situation to be “bad”, it was an opportunity to either be pessimistic, or optimistic.

    I know which I chose, now it’s your turn!.

  • http://www.charis-ministries-international.com Vicky Vule

    this is now one of my favorite posts by you. God bless you for sharing