No one goes through life without experiencing adversity in one form or another. It’s part of the journey.
That being the case, how can we turn an obstacle or a seemingly impossible situation into an opportunity for greater good or even a triumph? A story about one of the greatest inventors in modern history, Thomas Edison, gives us a clue.
A little more than a century ago, there was a huge explosion in West Orange, New Jersey. The fire consumed 10 buildings that were part of Thomas Edison’s village of factories. Eight fire departments came to the scene of the explosion, but they couldn’t put it out right away because it was a very powerful, resistant, chemical fire.
Years later Thomas Edison’s son, Charles, wrote an article about the day of the fire. According to Charles, as hundreds of bystanders and demoralized employees watched the fire, Thomas Edison said to his son with giddy excitement, "Go get your mother and all her friends. They'll never see a fire like this again."
Charles was stunned by his dad’s reaction. And Thomas Edison simply said to Charles, "It's all right. We've just got rid of a lot of rubbish."
Needless to say, this was an unexpected reaction from Thomas Edison. Particularly in light of the fact that, at the time, Edison was up there in years. Rebuilding would cost $23 million in today’s dollars and his insurance only covered about one-third of that. But he did rebuild. He turned his setback into a triumph and thrived like never before.
Many people would have gotten angry or gone home to bed and thrown the covers over their heads. But Edison didn’t and, eventually, he was able to overcome a daunting obstacle. One reason he was able to triumph in this seemingly impossible situation was his perspective. Perspective is everything.
Edison demonstrated that how we see a particular situation determines what it will be for us. In the Book of Genesis, we’re reminded that we have the ability to name things. That tells us we have dominion over the thoughts moving through our awareness and the perceptions we have about life. These perceptions determine what our mental states will be. We are “meaning makers.” As a result, we have the ability to make meaning out of any situation and induce a more favorable state of mind. That state of mind opens us up to new possibilities.
When we can break apart an obstacle we may be facing or look at it from some new angle, it begins to lose power over us. However, many times the mind chooses the most ominous explanation over an empowering perspective. If we do this, we may miss the opportunity to turn a trying situation into a triumphant one.
We can choose how we look at things and what perspectives we will interject into any adversity we face. We can’t necessarily change the facts of the obstacle or situation itself. In Edison’s case, the fire happened. That was a fact. But he retained his power over his perspective, which enabled him to change how the adversity appeared to him.
A changed perspective can cut our obstacles down to size. What looks like a tombstone can be turned into a stepping-stone for greater good or even a triumph.
Peace and Blessings,