If we are to plot a chart through our respective lives, it should run like an ECG reading - with much ups and downs. In some, there could be an even spread, some others - more ups and yet some others, unfortunately, more of downs.
When we see a person 'sailing on top', as some might say, what we see, is the outcome of a series of events that probably propelled the person to that kind of visibility, he or she is in now. Who knows what kind of experiences are beneath the surface of all that pomp and pageantry? What failures, or set backs or heart rending moments the person may have travelled through to come and sit atop that mountain? Speaking with a few experts who have been through the University of Life, we’ve pinned down a few things that we can practice, when life hurts - along the way to achieving a goal or rising to the pinnacle that we each have to rise to.
One: When you are in a valley, take time off: This does not mean sitting pretty and doing nothing. Take time off to revisit, recount, analyze, think through the things that made you sit in a valley. Learn the lesson. Leave the regret in the valley.
Two: You are not the valley: Good and the bad happen to all, as we all sit under the same sun that rises in the morning and downs in the evening. The valley is not your definition, your personality or your value. It is a temporary situation. Take it as such.
Three: Valley teaches you resilience: A person who perishes in the valley will never sit atop the mountain. “Being successful and retaining that success is more energy draining than being in a valley an looking for a way out”, says a businessman who was not so long ago, was in the red with all the banks he did business. “ If there’s one thing I learned about the valley , it is that I need to hang in there – it is up to ME. I can choose to sit and die or get up, dust myself down and work the way out of the valley”.
Four: Valley sifts out your friends: “The best that happened to me”, says Peter, “is that most of the crown that I thought were my friends, just dropped out of sight when I did poorly. In a way, I am so thankful I hit the hard road or the valley. It showed me who my true friends were. Would you believe it’s just a handful”. Good for you Peter – that’s all you need. A handful of loyal good friends.
Five: How you tackle the valley will sharpen your focus to take the mountain: It’s human to sit and mope. To sit and think of “ aiyo…what happened”. That’s ok, just for starters. Then, we need to turn our attention on what brought us to the valley and how we can twist a bad turn into a good one. That needs reviewing the tools we hitherto used, discarding the ones that are not helpful and cultivating a few others, that will take us up and out of the valley. Valley is a good place to take stock of one’s life and move things out, so the new can come in.
Six: Face the valley: This might sound crazy, really. What else can you do when you are in a valley but face it? As crazy as it may seem, some just do not accept the fact that they are in a valley. Mark is not a guy who can hold onto a job for too long. He’s been with many of the blue chip companies and either left them or got kicked out – to put it simply. Todate, he has a plethora of scape goats that he keeps shooting at. Taking accountability for his absence or being habitually smelling of liquor at work and being so totally drunk every evening, are never the issues for Mark. Can anyone be blind, as those who refuse to see? He lives in the valley, crying foul at everyone and everything – but no, he does not want to even accept he is in a valley and it is getting darker.
Seven: See what the valley is trying to teach: Life’s many events, happenings, joys and sadness leave us with the ‘knowing’ that whatever you and I may encounter, life moves on. If we are sensitive enough to where we are in the valley, we will diligently “lean into” what the valley is trying to teach us, at that point in our lives. A valley is not for the babes – it’s for the grown. If not, the valley will either grow the adult in you, or crush the baby, that is still you. So do learn, whatever lesson the valley is trying to teach.
Eight: Valley can instill fear or impart courage: What will you choose? The dark nights in the valley, the howling winds of life, inability to see clearly ahead, the fear as to whether the valley will be your home – forever, are all reasonable fears when we are in the valley. What courage dictates is – that the valley does not last, a valley will always have another peak, there is a path to that peak, though the light may be dim, the day break is near. Am I talking in riddles or aren’t these the kind of experiences that we’ve all faced and moved through and moved ahead?
If and when there is a valley experience in your future, what will you do?