Leading Blog


What Do You Do When Life Ambushes You?


WE are conditioned to believe that to be happy, for life to be good, everything should be going our way. Life is supposed to be comfortable when done right. Most self-help books are based on this line of reasoning.

But when you think about it, a constant state of comfort is numbing to the human spirit. It takes us nowhere. What really makes us feel alive are those times when we are challenged, pushed, distressed. In those moments, opportunities arise, our mind expands, and we grow—we learn.

What do you do when life ambushes you? When you are disabused of the status quo. Times like this can either shut you down or open you up. Ambushes create a question.

Former Navy Seal Jason Redman says when a life ambush— “a catastrophic series of events that knock the wind out of you, pin you to the pain, and forever alter your reality” —hits you, you must overcome. You must get off the X.

The X is the event that hit you. And we can get stuck there—sometimes for years. He says people respond to life ambushes in three ways. They are destroyed by it and can’t stop rehashing it. Or, like most people, they get through to the other side, but it is always a struggle for them. Or the third group turns the ambush into a launching point.

In Overcome: Crush Adversity with the Leadership Techniques of America's Toughest Warriors, he shares the story of he was caught in an ambush that left him severely wounded, almost losing an arm and half of his face shot off. He was caught on the X—the “kill zone, the point of attack” –bleeding out, sure he was going to die. He had to stay awake to stay alive. He had to overcome.

What would you do? “How you handle a life ambush, how you handle any crisis, is dictated by how well you lead yourself, and how well you lead others.” After an ambush, you have to take back control of your life and move from defense to offense or what he calls the Overcome Mind-Set. “Self-discipline is the best way to take control of your life again after an ambush.”

Your first move is to get off the X. Identify the issue and find a new direction. You have to REACT: Recognize your reality, Evaluate your position, Assess possible exit routes, Choose a direction and communicate it, and Take action. Moving is the key to getting off and staying off the X.

Once you’ve been through a life ambush, it’s so easy to look back at where you were in the past and think, “Getting back there is my goal.” It isn’t. It can’t be. You have to figure out what your new 100 percent is and build on it.

If there is an advantage to experiencing a life ambush, it’s the clarity it can bring about what is truly important in your life. Crisis crystalizes your thinking, and you become clear about where you stand—often for the first time.

Redman believes there are five areas of your life that when maximized will help you to face any ambush when it comes. The key self-leadership areas are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social.

Overcome Jason Redman

Physical Leadership: “If you are ignoring your physical health, you’re in denial about the risks you are unnecessarily taking. Physical fitness is not just about being ripped or strong; it is about having the energy needed to lead. Physical fitness is the base. Everything is supported by this base.”

Mental Leadership: “You build mental leadership through broadening your perspective, increasing your knowledge, and getting outside of your comfort zone. An interesting recommendation from the Brain Center was to find a sport that requires balance, like paddle boarding, surfing, or even cycling. These exercises are great for mental training because you are using the muscles on both sides of your body, causing your brain to use both hemispheres.”

Emotional Leadership: “What we do with our emotions is a choice. We choose to allow ourselves to get angry and explode. We choose to verbally express our negative thoughts and frustration. Controlling our emotions begins by understanding the scope of our emotions and what patterns we typically fall into when we react.”

Social Leadership: “Often in those hardest moments you only have your close friends and family, and if you did not take the time to nourish those relationships, you will be trying to overcome the near impossible, climbing out of a deep hole without a rope or assistance.”

Spiritual Leadership: “Spiritual leadership means recognizing that you are a unique part of a much larger world and picture, and investing time and resources to make your community and world better. If you struggle with spiritual leadership, try a simple practice: gratitude. Gratitude forces you to look outside of yourself, to focus on something beyond your problems.”

If you are not maintaining each of these five areas, you will undermine your ability to lead others.

A Crisis Is a Launchpad

Overcome offers an approach to get you off of your X with a never-quit attitude. It’s about breaking down the barriers in your mind and keep moving forward despite your fears. It’s about perspective and gratitude.

A life ambush is miserable when we go through it. Maybe we don’t fully recover from it, but it creates a whole new path. So many people get stuck on what they lost or what they no longer have. They want the past so much that they’re not willing to turn around and look forward at what is in front of them. They fail to even consider, “Okay, what are my new opportunities, and could something better come of it.”

Choose to overcome—very good advice from someone who walks the talk.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:32 PM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Personal Development , Teamwork



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