Friday, June 3, 2011

Find your sunshine

Sun. Warmth. Joy. The storms that drenched Chicago and wreaked havoc across the US seem to have passed – for the moment. Many of the storms of life, however, still remain.

I happened to be flying on one recent dreary day. On the ground, it was gloomy. The fog obstructed my view. The cold penetrated my spirit. The rain showered down on my mood. Where was the sun? Where was the warmth? Where was the joy? Did it even exist? The storm was all I could see.

Then lift-off. The plane ascended, through the rain and through the clouds. Suddenly, we broke free from the edge of the storm. ahhhh. Sun. Warmth. Joy.

I can hear the conventional wisdom inspired by this metaphor for life. Remember the bigger picture, it says. Look beyond your present storm. Stand strong; it will pass. The key to victory is perseverance.

But this is not the point I want to make. What struck me as we experienced freedom from the storm?


Sometimes the storms in our lives or our business have little to do with us. We’re trapped by happenstance. Wrong place at the wrong time. Other times, they arise because we’re operating in a role, a place or an environment that is simply wrong for us at the core. Everywhere we tread, a storm begins to brew, as if our warm spirit in a cold environment is triggering constant turmoil.

Flee. Find the edge of the storm and go beyond it. Escape the downpour. Find your sunshine.

This thought brings me back to 2002. I spent a miserable year in Houston in a job that drained me and a city that never felt like home. The storm engulfed me for nearly a year while memories of experiencing joy in China the year prior lingered fresh in my mind.

I wanted that happiness again. So I fled.

I fled. I fled toward opportunity. I fled toward passion. I fled toward adventure. I hopped on a plane just two weeks after receiving a job offer, and I landed in Microsoft Shanghai in January of 2003. There, I fell in love with my job. I experienced a career transformation. I met my present husband of five years. There, I found sun. I found warmth. I found joy.

If you are stuck in a storm, look for the escape route. Sure, there are times when you need to stand strong. To weather the storm. To persevere.

But sometimes, it’s simply time to evacuate.

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