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Everything happens FOR you, not TO you

>> 16 February 2011

Sometimes life throws you curve balls.

One day you are full of energy, enthusiasm and creativity to set up a new project, a business, a new piece of art and the next day you are thrown back by something like:
  • creative block: you can't seem to 'find' the next chapter of your book
  • lack of inspiration: you want to paint but have no idea what
  • negative criticism: people judge your work badly which makes you angry and want to stop
  • a change of plan: what you had in mind is not possible for some reason and it puts you to a halt
This curve ball makes you disappointed and angry.
You loose your drive (or your pitch). Your dream is shattered. Well, yes, it's like your idea just died.


Elisabeth K├╝bler Ross was a Swiss psychiatrist/researcher who did a lot of work on the process of grief for which she identified five stages.


Although her research was based on dealing with a terminal illness or fatal loss,  there is also a business significance as people seem to go through similar stages when faced with changes in their personal and professional lives.




  1. Denial: "This is not happening!"
  2. Anger: "This is not fair!" "Why me?"
  3. Bargaining: "Just give me more time." "How can I get this to work my way anyway?"
  4. Depression: "What's the point?" "No one likes my idea." "I might as well give up."
  5. Acceptance: "It's not so bad." "I can find a way out of this."
You can go through all those phases within a short time frame and in simple, everyday situations:
You have asked your partner to take out the trash last night. The next morning when you get ready to drive to work you notice he/she hasn't.
  1. I can't believe this! This can't be true!
  2. It's always the same. Every time I ask and he doesn't do it. I have to do everything here!
  3. I'm not going to do it either. That will teach him.
  4. There will be garbage piling up if the trash is not taken away today. Why did I ever marry this guy?
  5. Well, it's no big thing really. I can do it now; it won't take long. And I will tell him later that it really bothers me.
 Variations of above scenario happen to us all the time. Small and big curve balls.

I recently had one thrown at me hard. And I kept alternating between anger, bargaining and depression. I couldn't seem to get beyond that.

Then I remembered a thing my coach had said to me some years ago:
"It's happening FOR you . Not TO you."

I stopped and looked within.
I had planted a seed and wanted a flower to sprout right away.
But of course, the first thing that comes up is the dirt. Only then can a little green leaf poke its head above the earth.

So next time you have a curve ball thrown at you, go within, clear the dirt and grow:
- write that chapter
- paint...anything, just paint
- get some positive feedback to counterbalance but also analyze the negative (there might be something to learn there)
- change your plan, make it even better, different

So, what is happening FOR you right now?

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