Today in London it is cold, wet, dark. The sun has disappeared and, when the grey light appears, it does so for only a fleeting part of the day at this time of least daylight. We are also, as we were back in March and April, under a "stay at home" order. Times are dark, yet every challenge contains within it an opportunity. We have and feel many challenges, so therefore we have many opportunities.
For me one thought around such opportunities comes from the work of one thinker, brought to my awareness once again by a brilliant curator.
I hope my musing gives you pause to thought, to consider the opportunity therein for yourself.
Over a decade ago, passionate and hungry for knowledge as a relatively new coach, I asked a highly-regarded counsellor for some thoughts and advice. They said, simply, read "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. I did; it was and remains the most important book I've ever read.
Back in May this year, one of the ‘Brainpickings’ weekly posts wrote about Frankl some more, including this quote, which led me to write a related post about it.
"Everything depends on the individual human being, regardless of how small a number of like-minded people there is, and everything depends on each person, through action and not mere words, creatively making the meaning of life a reality in his or her own being" ~ Viktor Frankl
The curator and author of Brainpickings has now released her list of favourite books of 2020, which includes the book of Frankl's lost lectures, "Yes to Life, in Spite of Everything," so she brought back that May 2020 post and in it I was stopped by this passage that feels so resonant to this moment, to where we are in the present.
In considering the impact of being in the Nazi concentration camps (as he was), Frankl wrote:
"What remained was the individual person, the human being — and nothing else. Everything had fallen away from him during those years: money, power, fame; nothing was certain for him anymore: not life, not health, not happiness; all had been called into question for him: vanity, ambition, relationships. Everything was reduced to bare existence. Burnt through with pain, everything that was not essential was melted down — the human being reduced to what he was in the last analysis: either a member of the masses, therefore no one real, so really no one — the anonymous one, a nameless thing (!), that “he” had now become, just a prisoner number; or else he melted right down to his essential self."
Everything that was not essential was melted down… the human being reduced right down to his essential self.
I see opportunity for each of us to take these dark and challenging times and to truly focus on who we are as our essential self, then to keep and focus upon what matters to us and what we build from there. Oh, and to firmly and rigorously dispose, let go of everything else, from the material possessions that truly don't matter to us, to our ego, vanity, even our identity. As I used to say on an earlier version of my site homepage: "who are you without your title?".
Some of us around the world are more free to move around than others, yet we all have the opportunity to look ahead to when the pandemic has passed and choose who we are as a human being, what matters to us now and moving forwards.
I’m not an academic, I read, listen and learn voraciously and have written well over 1,000 daily posts. As to links, I always embed them in my posts. This POV is from a post that will go out at 8am UK time on Wed 23rd December, you may take links from that if you wish (in this case the Brainpickings blog). When the post goes live it will be at : https://https://tommccallum.com/2020/12/23/what-opportunities-do-you-see-in-your-challenges