Something awesome happens.
Something horrible happens.
Something we were counting on falls through.
Something we were sure would never happen actually does.
Someone or something appears in our life.
Someone or something goes away in our life.
If you’ve talked with me much longer than 20 minutes, especially about any of the above topics, you’ve heard me say something like:
“There are no accidents.”
"Of course you are."
“Everything is on purpose.”
“You’re exactly where you need to be.”
“Show me someone who believes in coincidence, and I’ll show you someone who’s not paying attention.”
Those could sound like airy-fairy idealism or some kind of surrender to predestiny, right?
Not at all, actually.
Yet let me clarify…
More macro-approach to life than a belief system, there’s a way to pay attention to, interpret and connect the things we experience and their meaning which keeps things moving forward.
While I don’t at all believe that our lives are preset and just playing themselves out, I do think we are part of a massive, multi-layered, universally connected dominoes game all the time, in which every single thing that occurs (including what we do, how we respond, and what we don’t do) causes shift somewhere- whether we see or intend it or not.
Call me controlling, but I believe that we determine the results, elements, contents and quality of our lives. I don’t mean that we have control over everything. Of course we don’t. Yet we have more control than we think, and especially of the most important part- how we experience, interpret and are effected by it all.
While I am optimistic, I actually don’t subscribe to “just believe that it’s all good and it will be all good” thinking- even I think that’s a bit naive.
Yet when things occur (planned or not, in our control or not), we are presented with a moment of choice. What to think about it? What meaning to assign to it? What response to have or not have? What step to take next? Those choice moments are loaded, and how we choose determines our happiness, struggle and purpose.
Every time, it’s an opportunity to do a few key things…
1. Own your impact, trace your steps.
Concretely: In the most literal interpretation of “no accidents’… we end up in situations and results which we had more to do with causing than we like to admit. While it’s faster and easier to play innocent or assign cause to someone/something else, you’re better than that. While uncomfortable at first, there’s amazing power in clearly, proactively and bravely claiming the path that got you to that moment.
A funky dynamic with someone? A huge win? A giant fail? A situation you hate or love?
Call it, Own it, Move on.
Look honestly and thoroughly at yourself, then call out the role you honestly played in getting yourself to this moment. Then do something about it.
Owning it this way can be uncomfortable at first, but amazingly empowering after, instilling strength and wisdom that only comes with self-actualization. Success is not just about luck, nor is failure- rather they are results of your own talent, choices, actions and effort.
That said, only do this in a way that takes accountability yet doesn’t overblow. If a tragic occurrence happens or an unprovoked perpetration happens, it’s not rational or helpful to put the ownership of that on yourself, so don’t. Move forward to #2.
Not as concretely: Beyond those visible ripples of our impact, we also have more power than we know in what’s less concrete and traceable- in our focus, intention and energy. When I think about a friend I haven’t spoken to or thought regularly about for years, and they call within moments… When a job opportunity falls through and before it’s even known, a new one lands in your inbox… When you meet a single person in a crowd with whom you instantly and powerfully connect in a rare way… When an athlete visualizes winning in a particular way down to the smallest detail, and then actually does… something’s going on there. The book The Secret was a rage a few years ago because it tapped into a real dynamic in the world- the law of attraction. While I think this is just one piece of what creates the content of our lives, it’s significant. Our presence, attention and energy has impact more potent, constant and far-reaching than just what we say and do; we’re radiating energy all the time.
So- notice and own the energy you put out into the world and what you attract into your life.
2. Choose your meaning.
Good and bad are a matter of viewpoint- and actual choices of judgment we can make as we want.
As humans we are meaning-makers. Something occurs, we make it mean something- this is how we interpret and navigate the world. So moment to moment- what meaning are you making, and is it helpful to you moving forward? In Tap Into Greatness, we explore and redirect some patterns of how your internal voice makes meaning and influences everyone around you. Yet right here, right now- you can shift your perspective...
Since the opposite of accidental is purposeful, choosing to see each moment or occurrence as purposeful flips you instantly from passive to active mode, victim to initiator of what it will cause and create for you.
In my coaching and workshops, when someone shares a revealing truth (like the real issue at hand, or the thorny emotions they’re feeling), my first response is always“Good!” I always clarify, “… not good that you’re feeling that or good that this occurred- but good that we’re getting to the crux of it, so we can make some choices about how to move forward… let’s go!”
So in a situation you didn’t expect, you can choose to see every one of them as a good thing because even when they’re painful, every one is an opportunity….
…to truly learn something you’ll carry forward,
…to see something you couldn't before,
…to choose something you didn’t fully consider before,
…to broaden or deepen your thinking about something.
While all of those opportunities when taken are productive, purposeful and keep you consciously choiceful, they’re not always quick, pleasant or fun. Yet every time they’re worth it- because they’re what define your growth as a person- evolving forward on your path different than you were before.
3. See the opening.
Two of us can look at the same wall and see two different things. You might see the solidity of the wall, while I’ll likely see all the cracks that could be pried into openings, and focus on what’s on the other side. Seeing those cracks, and the potential light coming through them doesn’t mean I have to pry them open, or will even pursue doing so. Yet focusing on what’s past that wall or paths through it opens my thinking, my perspective and my possibility beyond what is obvious in the moment, giving me something I can do something about. That onus of control is key- because seeing the opening puts me into generative vs. limited thinking, focused on making something happen, moving to a different position. Once I see even a crack of light coming through, I can’t experience where I am the same way again, because its limits have been cracked, too. You can, too…
No matter what moment, situation or result you’re in, it’s actually in motion, on it’s way to the next thing- no matter how final or permanent it feels.
Pause to see a possible purpose. Then ask yourself, “What’s this on the way to?” “What is there for me to learn in this moment, which will allow me to create the next one?” Rigorously push yourself to consider those questions, and your mind will answer them every time.
While you don’t have a crystal ball and it may or may not be all laid out for us… you do have the enormous power to own your impact, make it mean something that pushes you forward and find the openings through each moment on the way to generating the next.
So, with the next occurrence that goes exactly how you thought it might... or the one that surprises you completely, remind yourself that there are no accidents- you are in that moment exactly where you need to be to learn, evolve and get something that will shift you as person out of it… if you’re paying attention.
Of course you are.