Ten days ago I was getting ready to go overseas and I got a call that nobody ever wants to receive. It was a call from a work colleague to tell me that the person I sit next to every day at work had suffered a massive heart attack.
The person that gave me the news was also one of two people that helped to revive our friend when he started to turn blue. If that wasn’t enough, this same person that helped revive our friend had also lost his mum a few months before in a similar scenario where he was present and saw it all happen.
With our friend in a critical state, I felt bad that I had to get on a plane in a few hours. I realised there was nothing I could do other than hope, but I still felt uneasy.
This unfortunate situation made me see our friend in a new way and look at life differently in these five ways:
1. You think about life without them
Instantly after I got the news of our friend’s ordeal, I started to think about life without them. Our friend was working on a project that has the capacity to change the face of the Australian business world.
He had years of expertise in his field that allowed him to see a vision for business that not everyone else could see the way he did. He put all of his passion into this project and went out of his way to bring in the younger generations to share the knowledge.
He always believed that his network was important and to treat people with the highest level of respect. It was this way of doing business that made me respect this man. Guys like him just didn’t exist in the usual business community and I wondered what would happen if he was not able to fulfil his vision.
I wondered if the person that would replace him would do the same job, with the same passion as him. When we see someone we care about go through a horrific situation like this our human brain defaults to a feeling of sadness and potential loss.
No matter how much personal development we do, this default mindset is very hard to avoid. What I found through this experience was that I had to become consciously aware of this default response to our friend’s situation. I was forced to see good in what had happened even though from the outside it may seem like there was no reason too.
I told myself that if he lived, he would be better than he ever was before and he would have a new way at looking at his health. I also told myself that if he didn’t live, that he had lived a good life and given everything he could to his work and family.
I told myself that if he were to leave this world, that someone else whom he had taught would take over his role, and use the same attributes he had shown to fulfil the original vision.
See how the power of reframing the situation can completely change what something means to you?
2. You forget how someone is
When you work next to someone each day, it’s very easy not to be truly grateful for who they are. In the case of this story, it was only when our friend was no longer sitting next to me each day that I remembered how he acted.
We often don’t get time to fully assess someone and their impact until we are put in situations where we think we may not see them again. It’s not like we do an annual review of every person we know and rate what we like about them, and think back on what they have achieved (although this gratitude exercise is something we all should do).
Not seeing our friend each day made me see the void that was left without them. The office was a lot quieter, there were fewer visitors coming in to see us who had be drawn in by our friend, and we suddenly had a knowledge gap in our team that we never were conscious of before.
What is it that makes us forget how someone is? The answer, it’s the thousands of thoughts buzzing around our head all the time that numb us from being truly grateful for the people we have in our life. It’s these thousands of mind numbing thoughts that are holding us back from success.
3. You forget that there is a family involved
After our friend had a heart attack, I found that a lot of us defaulted to thinking about what this person meant to us, and the things that would impact us individually in the future. While the sadness affected me, I saw pretty quickly that I was completely forgetting about the people that were being affected the most – his family.
See that’s the challenge, we can be very quick to look at a situation based on the effect it has on us and not think about the people who are being affected even more than ourselves. I started to think about his friends, children and his very young grandchildren.
Sure the situation was tough for me but when I started to think about what it would be like for his close family, my pain very quickly began to dissipate.
It’s when we stop looking at our own life and start thinking about other people that we truly start to heal our pain and become a leader that everyone looks up to.
4. You think you could have prevented the situation
Another life lesson that I got out of all of this was yet another default way of thinking that we all have; we think that we could have somehow, magically, prevented the situation. For me, I started thinking to myself maybe I should have pushed him more not to drink Coke or maybe I could have used what I do on Addicted2Success to help those affected instead of going overseas.
These thoughts are a natural reaction and when I really thought about it carefully, I realised that I can’t be responsible for everyone else choices. If someone wants to consume something that is very bad for them, it’s not a good idea for me to try and force my beliefs or opinions on them.
I thought to myself, “Tim not everyone is trying to live to 150 years old and maybe they want to enjoy life and have a soft drink when they like.”
This change of perspective helped me a lot in thinking of our friend in a different light. In terms of not being present for the whole event, again, I realised that tragedy is going to happen in the world all the time and I can’t be everywhere at once.
In these difficult situations, the best thing you can do is let the people who are there step up and take care of everything (which is what happened in this story).
The last thing I thought I could have done to prevent or help the situation was to use the tools I use on Addicted2Success to help. Now, while I thought I couldn’t do this, as it turns out I did. When I returned from overseas, we wrote a card to our friend, and I left a heartfelt, inspiring message in there.
I then wrote this article to help the situation further as well as talking with the people that were involved and using some of the personal development tools I have in my toolbox. So we can’t prevent every situation, but we can always help, and it doesn’t have to be right away as these situations can have an effect for months and sometimes years.
5. You reflect on your own life
As I spoke with people about what had occurred when I returned from overseas, I had an unexpected thing happen; I began to reflect on my own life. Explaining how all of this had affected me made me reflect on what I was about to go through.
In a video I posted on Addicted2Success last week, I spoke about how I am about to go to hospital and what might happen. What became apparent is that I’m using what happened to my friend and the lessons I learnt, to help me with my own battle in hospital next week. Everything I was saying to others about my friend’s heart attack, I was also saying right back to myself.
Maybe all of this madness was in some way meant to happen so that it could help me with my own struggles. Maybe that was the empowering reason for it all and I was just a participant in this life lesson that spanned across multiple people.