“We have a fire!”
Slowly waking from my Nyquil induced sleep, I struggled to understand what my wife was saying. “We’ve got what?”
“We have a fire!” she said again, bringing me fully awake.
I stumbled out of the bedroom and toward some unusual noises in the garage. When I opened the door, the heat hit me in the face. Smoke filled the garage with a malefic, orange pulse.
Slamming the door, I ran back toward the bedroom. “Grab the kids!”
My wife grabbed our three-year-old daughter and I got our six-year-old son. When we hit the front door, our neighbor was running toward us in his bathrobe. He had already dialed 911, giving them all the details they needed to dispatch the fire department.
We made our way to his house and checked to make sure the kids were okay. I went back outside to wait for the fire department and assess the situation. Within a couple of minutes, plumes of flame popped up through the roof. The fire was in the attic and all over the house. A massive blaze consumed the garage — and any serious hope of recovering anything faded.
By the time the sun rose, our lives and pajamas were what remained.
My family and I began doing… well, what we do! We figured out our immediate needs, what our next steps should be, and took action to get things moving. In a matter of days, we had life back to normal, relatively speaking.
The most interesting part of the experience was how people responded to us. I’m not talking about the outpouring of kindness and generosity, though that was pretty amazing. What caught me off guard was how people reacted when they realized that we weren’t distraught and immobilized.
I would be willing to say that some of them were even… a little disappointed.
“How can you be so calm and motivated right now?”
“You act like nothing happened!”
And my favorite…
“Doesn’t it bother you that you lost everything? You must be in shock!”
I actually laughed out loud when I heard that one. In shock? Really? When you stand in your neighbor’s yard for four hours and watch all of your material possessions evaporate, reality becomes palpable, and any shock floats away with the smoke.
What I explained to all those people is what I want to share with you, via this long introduction.
Difficulties in life are constant and impartial. Not unfair. Impartial. It is up to us to give meaning to the challenges we face, and decide how we will carry on once they’ve occurred.
My mindset, then and now, focuses on possibility and productivity. When events like the fire hit, my mindset takes all of the data and acts as a filter. Not as a way to turn a blind-eye toward the hardship, but to give me the kind of information I need to further my objectives.
This filtering process makes me more efficient and successful than I could be otherwise. It has allowed me to go through anything and stay on pace and productive, because I’ve decided that’s how I want to be.
Yes, we still cried, cussed, and missed things we had always taken for granted. A well-crafted mindset makes you resilient, not inhuman. Nevertheless, the event itself, the fire, didn’t dictate to us how we would behave. That was under our control.
In fact, in that same year, I finished a bachelors degree, began a masters, and my young (39-year-old) wife had a freak heart attack. Put a total-loss house fire on the end of it and we had enough “yuck” and stress in one year to justify some cynicism and negativity. Instead, we rallied as a family, became even closer — and oh, by the way, grew our income 600 percent. This was only possible because of our mindset.
I hear you out there… “That’s great guy, but what does it mean for me?” To which I say, it means everything! Our mindsets are active and filtering the world for us every day, whether we’re conscious of it or not.
So how do we become conscious of it and take control?
- Take 100 percent responsibility for your life. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whose fault anything is. What are you going to do about it? Abdicating responsibility doesn’t get you off the hook for making something happen. Instead, it renders you powerless and a victim.
- Get clear about what you want. Just like ancient mariners used a compass to maintain direction during a storm, your clearly defined objectives point the way forward when all hell breaks loose. You can steer yourself to clear waters instead of allowing yourself to get dashed against the rocks.
- Purposely look for opportunities. To build your unshakeable mindset, you’ll need a little practice. When you are clear about what you want, consciously look for ways to get closer to it. Soon enough, you’ll have retrained your brain to show you the best path.
- Pay attention to your dominant emotions. When adversity strikes, are you drawn to finding blame or to correcting your course? I don’t mean that you should ignore the emotions you feel, but don’t give them all of your power. Grieve, mourn, get angry… but then bring your emotional awareness back to possibility.
The alternative to taking conscious control of your mindset is to allow the world at large to shape it for you. Any takers? (I didn’t think so.) Okay, then. Make the decision that, starting right now, you will be in control of your life — and events will no longer kick the chair out from under you.
Soon, your mind will begin to do the sifting and sorting for you, leaving you free to act on the opportunities that you never knew were there.
[Ed. Note: To learn more about how to survive life's trials -- and then thrive -- check out PJ McClure's groundbreaking coaching program, The Mindset Formula.
PJ is also offering 20 free videos about the Six Elements of Personal Choice and how you can build your foundational mindset for lifelong success. Check them out here.
PJ is a veteran of Early to Rise's 5 Days in July Internet Business Building Conference. Come to this year's 5 Days in July Conference with nothing -- no website, no products, and no experience or technical knowledge -- and you'll leave with your own Internet business. Find out more about it -- and get in at the introductory price -- here.]