Updated: May 7, 2019
Click on the image to view the video I made of my strory
I would like to begin this post by posing a few questions to you the reader. Do you believe perspective informs reality? If I said that everything that happens to you in your life is neutral and you are able to assign a positive or negative value to it, would you agree or disagree? Do you believe that in life there are negative experiences that can only be viewed as negative? How do you view opportunity?
I would like to propose that even the most damagingly negative events are neutral and you have the opportunity to assign the value to those events. I know this is a provocative statement, but stay with me please. I want to tell you my story, the story of starting to live a Strategic Life.
The Night That Tried to Claim My Life
Take a journey with me to just another typical Sunday. The date was the 29th of March, 2015, and it happened to be my grandmother’s birthday. I live 60 miles north of my grandparents but because I love my grandmother I decided to make the 60 mile drive to celebrate with her.
Before going into the story, let me take you back to August of 2014. I was at work and having a rough day; I just wanted to be anywhere but work. It was one of those days where I was not feeling fulfilled in life and I needed something to lift my down spirits. As a result I did a Google search on English Cream Golden Retriever puppies. My attempt to lift my spirits was working at first until I saw that the average price tag was $1,800 for one of the puppies. There was no way I could afford that so I was about to give up, and there it was. There was a post advertising a brand new litter and the price was considerably lower, it was a price I could afford. I called the breeder and I ended up going to visit the puppies. I arrived at the breeder's house and there he was, the
chunkiest little ball of fur walking up to me, looking at me. I could not resist him so I picked him up and that was it for me. Sir Jeter the Yankee Captain, who would go by the name Captain, needed to be my dog! I paid the breeder the deposit and on Halloween I picked up Captain. I thought I was just buying a dog for the seemingly cliché reason of companionship. I later learned that Captain would soon come to mean so much more to me than just being my pet and companion.
Fast forward with me to Sunday March 29, 2015, it is my grandmother's birthday. I loaded Captain into my truck and we drove down to Denver for the celebration. I had a great day with family and did not leave Denver until about 10:00 p.m. Once I got on the interstate, I put my truck on cruise control. I had Captain in the back seat; I was listening to music, and thinking about how much fun I had with my family celebrating my grandmother's birthday. I had made this drive many times, and I loved doing it late at night because there was not heavy traffic so it was typically a pleasant drive.
For whatever reason, this night was going to be completely different. At 10:20 p.m. everything in my life drastically changed. In an instant everything went black in a weird out of body way. I had this unconscious thought that whatever was happening to
me was the end. I thought I would never wake back up. After a period of time I heard a dog screaming in a way I had never heard an animal scream before. Then I heard pounding on some window and a voice yelling the question, “Hey, are you okay” I quickly realized that the screaming dog was Captain and the voice was speaking to me. I first made sure that Captain was okay, and thankfully he was only traumatized. Then, I got out of my truck to realize I had been involved in a very serious fatal car collision.
As it turns out, a 66 year old woman was stopped in the center lane of the interstate for no apparent reason. Her lights were not on, causing me to collide with her going 65 mph, due to the fact that I never saw her. I was the first person while others were on the phone with 911 to see her lifeless body lying across the front seats in her car. I thought that I was fine after the crash, but later realized I had suffered a severe concussion, which later turned into Post-Concussion Syndrome. In addition, I have also been working through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The crash made it so I could not perform my job for 10 months. I lived in a state of traumatic shock for multiple weeks following the collision, but I told a friend of mine the night of the crash that I was going to make sure I did not go through this traumatic experience in vain. I did not fully know what I meant by that at the time, but over the course of the next 10 months, it became clear what I meant by that statement.
My 10 Month Journey
Over the course of the following 10 months following my collision, I had some very
dark hours. There were many times when I was genuinely scared to death I was going to become clinically depressed. The statistics are staggering for those who are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to become clinically depressed and on multiple occasions I nearly became a statistic.
As with any legal situation like I was involved in, few things ever get resolved quickly. My truck was impounded for eight months as the police investigated to be sure I was not at fault. At this point there was no certainty in my life following my traumatic experience, which by its nature drove uncertainty to the core of who I am as a person.
During the 10 months following the crash, it became clear that I had two options. Fear or faith, there had to be a reason I was still alive. I chose to have faith through my experience; it was literally the only thing that kept me from becoming clinically depressed.
The 39 Perspective
I read an article the other day that was related to a statistic I had seen multiple times on the interstate. There were 40 auto collision fatalities in the month of March 2015 in Colorado and 547 auto collision fatalities in Colorado in 2015.
I could have viewed my experience from a victim perspective believing that there
should have only been 39 fatalities in March instead of 40. I could have assumed that I had it harder in life than most, assumed that what happened to me I did not deserve, and that there must be something wrong with me as my Post Traumatic Stress started to set in. I could have viewed my experience through this perspective and I would not have been “wrong” to do so.
The 41 Perspective
As I was driving on the interstate a few days ago, I was once again reminded of the number of fatalities as it was on one of
the illuminated signs on the highway. When I read it and saw that there were 40 fatalities last March, instantly my reaction was that there should have been 39, and that I was responsible for the fact that it was 40. As I thought about the 40 I sat back and thought how I can turn the prism on this, what are some other truths of the number 40? Then it hit me, realistically the number should have read 41 and I should never have had the opportunity to be driving down the highway with the ability to even see the fatality statistic from March 2015. I should have died that night. I collided with a stationary object going 65 mph, it really is a miracle I am still alive.
Once I viewed it through that lens, the 41 perspective, I realized the amazing opportunity that was given to me on the night of March 29, 2015. I was given the opportunity to evaluate my life leading up to the point of impact. I was able to look back on my life to see if I would have had anything in my life I would have done differently if my life ended that night.
The Big Idea
As I went through therapy and rehab, I began to fully realize as much as humanly possible just how precious the gift of life is. I began to feel blessed for my opportunity at a second chance at life with the privilege of having a 10 month timeout to identify ways I could live a more intentional and impactful life. The big idea of how to live a Strategic Life is to begin viewing everything that happens in your life as an opportunity. Life is full of endless opportunities that many of us miss simply because we do not have the perspective to view the world as an endless opportunity to learn, celebrate, and grow. I encourage you to start living intentionally with gratitude, teaching yourself to view the world as endless opportunity, because it really is full of endless opportunity.
The truth is, my life should have ended on March 29, 2015, and if it did, I would have wished I lived my life more intentional. Life is a gift and none of us know when the date will be filled in to the right of the dash.
The important thing to remember is that in light of the 39 and 41 perspectives, 40 is the only thing that is known. The number 40 symbolizes your current state, you get to choose at that point what the 40 will become by assigning a +1 or -1 perspective. The 39 perspective or the 41 perspective. I encourage you to search for meaning in your current state and to search for areas of opportunity to grow through your struggles and hardships in life, find your 41. When you find your 41, you will begin living a Strategic Life that is intentional, grounded in gratitude, realizing that the world is really full of endless opportunity that is available to you, starting today. All of us at Strategic Life believe in you and in your potential to make a lasting impact in your world!
Please feel free to comment or email us about any feedback you might have!
Click on the image to view the video I made of my strory
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