I just learned that my former boss, the one who left me unemployed during that fateful summer of 2016, he died on Sunday. John was 60 years old.
John and I had a complicated relationship during the two years I worked for him. He built his company from the ground up 25 years ago. It was his everything, and nothing would get in the way of that. It wouldn’t surprise me if the cause of death was related to stress in some way.
I was telling a story about John to a friend a few days ago. My friend decided to look him up online a few days later and found the obituary. He called me to tell me the news.
I didn’t really know how to react, so I decided to go for a walk to the lake. As soon as I got outside, it began to rain. I thought to myself, rain is appropriate right now. A family lost a loved one.
Within the first few minutes of my walk, the sky grew dark and gloomy. The wind and rain formed a combination that my umbrella was no match for. I could have turned around, but something within me told me to keep going.
As soon as I crossed the bridge to the lakefront, the wind and rain calmed down simultaneously.
A beautiful rainbow appeared over the water.
I have been feeling a lot of wide-ranging emotions since learning of John’s death. But the feeling that keeps coming back to me, over and over again, is gratitude.
You see, this man is part of my story, and he always will be.
The truth is, I was asleep while working for John. Not just financially, but in nearly every area of my life. I was following the herd. Going through the motions without any true purpose other than to build a resume and seek the approval of others.
Then John gave me my wake up call at age 26. He called me up and told me I no longer had a job at his company.
How could this happen to me? I was a hard worker, I represented the firm well. I developed trusting relationships with his clients. I was absolutely devastated.
And then my five-year relationship ended a few weeks later.
Humiliation, sorrow, fear, confusion, shame, blame, guilt, uncertainty. I felt it all to my core and I was drowning.
I lived in the depths of all these emotions for weeks on end. And then I made a decision.
I finally decided I was sick of feeling like a victim. I vowed to find a way out. Once I made this decision, I began re-evaluating my entire life. And then, the momentum started to shift.
I was forced to live frugally, until I realized I didn’t want back 95% of the things I had given up. I started to live freely.
I stopped holding on to negative relationships that were draining my happiness and focused on strengthening the truly important ones. I started to live more intentionally.
I was so confused and didn’t know which way was up, so I began to trust the feeling in my gut to guide me. I have been following my intuition confidently ever since.
I was open to anything that would get me back on track, so I gave meditation a try.
I suddenly had an endless hunger to learn, so I dove into books, documentaries and podcasts on health, wealth and happiness.
I looked at all aspects of my life and decided to change what was no longer serving me. I took back control and haven’t stopped growing since.
Life isn’t always fair. Things won’t always go your way. You will get knocked down. But in the depths of life’s hardships lies a treasure chest waiting to be opened. You have the ability to learn more about yourself than you ever knew was within. You have the ability to become so much stronger than you were before. You have the ability to understand that you have greatness inside of you that is more powerful than any circumstance.
Those dark and uncertain moments were life-changing for me. And I now know that the next time I fail, the next time I fall down, the next time life goes against me, I won’t just survive it. I will be better off because of it.
I don’t wish that summer on anyone, but I do wish the clarity and growth I experienced for everyone.
So thank you John, for unexpectedly becoming one of my greatest teachers.
And for helping me understand:
Without rain, there is no rainbow.