Life epiphanies are turning point moments that are pivotal occurrences that can or will change our lives. The turning point moments of famous people are well known. Oprah Winfrey was fired as news anchor at WJZ-TV, which allowed her to refocus and become the talk show host she was born to be. Steve Jobs was removed from his own company and used the break to reinvent himself, establishing himself as one of the great visionaries with a cult following. Employed as a caricaturist, Walt Disney was fired because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. He went on to create movies and the wonderland which to this day makes young and old visitors believe in magic.
But what about regular people? What are our turning points? How can we navigate crossroads and come out better and stronger?
From my own life and experiences as life skills expert I have come to realize there are three types of turning points. The first two all of us will experience in our lives. The third is the key to major success.
The first are the easy-to-spot obvious opportunities we can jump at, or not. These include chances like job opportunities, blind dates, or starting a new hobby that might turn into a career. Often we succeed, other times we don’t.
The second are those that are forced upon us; typically we experience them as catastrophes. For me such a moment came when my husband fell from 10th floor balcony of an apartment building in his hometown. In an instant I was a widowed mother of two young children with more responsibilities than I thought I could handle.
The third and last are the hidden turning points. They are so minuscule we can easily overlook them. However, they are crucial to becoming an extraordinarily successful person. I’ll write more about them later.
The secret to success is knowing they all relate to each other and how we approach any one of them influences how much we can gain when also dealing with the other two.
When we are young we mostly encounter the first type of pivotal moments. For instance we may be given the opportunity to enroll in a tough extracurricular course or sports program. The choice to accept or not is ours. We can see the potential rewards of working hard or even harder. Sometimes we may fail, like Michael Jordan, when he was cut from his high school varsity team. Some people never accept such challenges or give up at the first hurdle. Michael Jordan was not one of them. He persevered and went on to become “His Airness”. It’s a lesson all of us should remember when tempted to not even try or to give up when things become difficult.
As we grow older the stakes get higher, and so do the rewards.
It makes sense that the more challenges we accept the better we get at dealing with them. Everything in life requires practice including dealing with the pain and sweat associated with endeavoring to succeed. Though, if we really love what we do, the pain and sweat don’t feel so painful, or sweaty.
Unfortunately, even if we master all hurdles with bravado, at some point, the second type of turning point challenges many of us. A life-threatening accident, the loss of a loved one, or getting laid off from a job can derail us. During the Great Recession most of us experienced the fear that comes from this type of pivotal experience. The pain or worries are immense and we have to look for help or find strength within ourselves to accept the challenge.
While most of us master these events somehow, there are people, like Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, and Walt Disney, who come out markedly better. They turn these trials into springboards that catapult them into the territory of phenomenal success. While it is obvious they drew from their past experiences, ultra successful people such as these three have learned to notice and collect the third turning points, the hidden ones. Steve Jobs defined the process as ‘connecting the dots’. It is recognizing and applying the subtle and miniscule ideas that turn out to be game changers. If you’re not looking for them you may not recognize their significance. Ideas can be found anywhere, including in books or conversations. Most astonishingly, Steve Jobs noted a hidden turning point when looking at kitchen appliances.
Successful people who make their mark in history distinguish themselves by actively looking for hidden turning points. They never get tired of searching. All of us can envision Steve Jobs scanning kitchen appliances in a department store and having a light bulb moment when he saw the Cuisinart food processor. He wanted his computers designed to look that “friendly”. A million other people would have walked by the store.
Powerhouses are often described as people who think out-of-the-box, but in reality they collect tiny impressions, visuals and thoughts, and put them into their own box. This is how these movers and shakers build their arsenals of wisdom that help them to become seemingly invincible.
If you, like I, have experienced a much more devastating loss than losing your job or company, you might think no good can ever come from your suffering. Life can be cruel. Unfortunately we cannot bring back the loved ones we lose too early, but some people manage to use their tragedies for meaningful positive change. Take John Walsh and Candace Lightner as examples.
John Walsh fights criminals on ‘America’s Most Wanted’. Though he lost his own son he has helped to bring home more than fifty missing children. Going beyond that he has helped to capture over a thousand criminals.
All of Candace Lynne Lightner’s three children were hurt in separate car accidents; her daughter Cari was thirteen when killed by a drunk driver. The day after Cari’s funeral Candace started ‘Mothers Against Drunk Driving’ in her den.
It is up to us how we conquer the turning point moments in our lives. If we actively search for the tiny pivotal moments we will fill our box of ideas and these will help us to make the most out of the challenges that present themselves.
I encourage you to extend your imaginary radar, to pick up the hidden clues to fill your box. With every page you read, with every step you take, you will live and breathe the happiness of wondering what will come next for you. You will find that the universe is speaking to you and success will be yours.
Motivational speaker, multi-award-winning author, mother of two, widow, adventurer, and globetrotter. Two of Gisela’s books have found their way into a president’s, a presidential candidate’s, and a world heavyweight champion’s library. She is an adventurer, who inspires others to live their lives to the fullest. Gisela Hausmann graduated with a master’s degree in Arts of Film and Mass Media from the University of Vienna, Austria.
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