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I began my career as a professional photographer well before the digital age. It was a time when photos were captured by using film. The camera itself worked pretty much the same as they do now, but instead of recording pixels on a microchip, the camera used "film," a chemical surface that captures the light as it enters through the camera lens.
One of the biggest challenges in working with film was to keep it in complete darkness and allow only the light that we desired to come in. In order to create photographs from the film, we exposed it to a series of harsh chemicals that reacted with the film and produced light and dark areas on a plastic strip, which are referred to as the "negatives." That negative was then exposed to a light which transferred onto a sheet of photo paper. The paper was then bathed in a series of toxic chemicals to produce what you and I know as the final photo print.
Consider for a moment, your favorite photograph print. Perhaps it is a photo of your children, you family pet, your favorite vacation spot, or maybe it is a photo of you alone, or with people that you love. Perhaps it is a photo that is sitting in a frame at your home office, your 15th floor corner office, or maybe it is one that you carry in your wallet (Oh, for those of you under 30, a "wallet" was our equivalent of the storage card on your smartphone or tablet).
Now, having your favorite photo print in mind, have you ever considered the process the photo had to go through to become that print that you so love and cherish? As explained above, that photo was exposed to a very harsh process. It was a dark and laborious process, in fact, we even called it "developing negatives."
In line with this, you cannot become the person you were meant to be unless you, too, go through negative experiences. This may seem like an odd comparison but when you think about it, most of the things that we treasure, value, and love are the byproduct of a negative experience or process. The diamond you wear on your finger is the result of coal being placed under extreme heat and pressure. The metal band which cradles the diamond is forged from gold, silver, platinum or other metal that has been melted under extremely high temperatures in order to be shaped and forged into the beautiful design that you now enjoy. Even in nature, the trees, plants, and flowers develop from seeds which have to be buried, and which are then broken down to produce the amazing variety of flowers and vegetation that we so depend on for our very survival.
It is somewhat difficult to reason that we human beings have to experience hardship, tragedy, suffering, deep pain, and we often have to experience abuse at the hand of another as part of our growing process, but the fact is that it’s true. There is a famous quote by Grace Hopper that says: “A ship is safe in port, but that is not what ships are made for.” Ships are meant to be out in the middle of the ocean, and what makes a great sailor is not someone who reads about how to pilot ships while remaining safely on dry land. To become a great sailor you must go out on the ocean and experience everything that nature has to throw at you. The same holds true for becoming a professional athlete, a military serviceman, and even an entrepreneur, a mother, and even a great friend.
I am convinced that we are placed in situations, negative situations because we need to experience contrast. We need to experience dark so that we can recognize and appreciate the light. Contrast can be anything from moving into a house with too small a closet for your belongings, to choosing a romantic partner who ends up abusing and tormenting you. I know it sounds crazy that one would need for a man or woman to inflict physical harm on you for you to learn and realize that this person is not the right one for you. Some people learn the lesson immediately, while others, because of the way they feel about themselves as not worthy or not deserving, will submit to continuing hardship, suffering, and abuse until hopefully the lesson is learned and they are able to move on and escape.
And the curious thing is that the same contrast is being experienced by the abuser. Meaning, they too need to learn a lesson, and it requires them to experience being the one who torments and punishes in order to learn that lesson.
The stories which support this principle are all around us. Almost everyone, in fact I dare say everyone; every person that you admire whether a historical figure, or present-day celebrity, athlete, musician, author, speaker, corporate executive; is a person you admire because of what they went through in order to become the person who leads a nation, the person who runs triathlons from a wheelchair, the person born without arms and legs who now travels the world influencing millions of people. You admire them because they survived being raped as children, survived being abused as adults, survived being prisoners of war, survived having been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated, or because they survived and defeated cancer.
And the reason, I believe, that bad things happen to good people, is so that we will take notice and look within ourselves to see where we may be either inviting these negative experiences to rain on us, or to see where we may be perpetrating harm in one way or another to those with whom we share this planet.
The reason is for you to learn from the experiences of others, to identify the kind of life that you wish to lead, and to form with clarity the kind of person that you want to be known as.
#LiveRemarkably #RuleBreaker #FunMaker #SpeaktoWin
Steve Gallegos is a Reinvention Expert, Executive Coach and Trainer, International Speaker, and Award-winning Author in the area of Personal Achievement and Public Speaking in Dallas, Texas.