How to Face a Door You Never Expected Would Close
Inspired by this month’s Moms Making Six Figures Podcast where I sat down with my new friend and incredibly successful, albeit accidental, entrepreneur, Andrea Sorenson. Her resilience in the face of life’s struggles and her intentional pursuit of joy over sorrow ultimately led her to the creation of a company that has opened doors once closed in an entirely new way to leave a lasting impact on others. Andrea and her success are proof of the need for us to author our own story—that there is a choice to be made, that there is a beautiful binding to be made of our mess. What some would have allowed to break them, Andrea allowed to shape her; she pivoted to redirect an already set course, and in that willingness to surrender control, she found her calling.
As working mothers many of us present as Type-A –whether by nature or out of necessity, there’s no denying that we have crafted and fine-tuned our work and personal lives. We are exceptional at getting more hours out of the day than exist, outsourcing tasks to maximize our talents, and dare we say overcoming society-imposed mom guilt (we can all collectively agree there’s no time or margin for that negativity in our lives, right?). But one area we all struggle with –because we are way makers when it seems there is no way— is being told no, of having a door closed we never imagined would be anything but open.
No Doesn’t Mean Never
When we face difficult circumstances or crushing blows that threaten to upend our identity and what we believe to be true about ourselves, the world, and our ‘plan’, it’s hard to imagine any possibility, timeline, or other way of accomplishing our vision for our lives outside of what we had already determined would happen, what we had already begun to pursue. None of us plan to face divorce, an illness, the loss of a loved one, infertility, or bankruptcy. And those no’s feel both devasting and immovable.
When a no packs this kind of punch, it causes us to question everything, to set our focus, “on the loss, failure and frustration –on that door that has closed” and in our tunnel vision we often miss doors that are open because they exist outside of our already carefully charted course. It’s important to remember that a no doesn’t meet never, but it may mean your yes looks different than what you had planned. Remez Sasson, founder of Success Consciousness, advises individuals in the midst of struggle to engage in meditative practices to attain inner peace once again: become more aware of your thoughts, free yourself from the thoughts that are keeping you stuck, work on gaining control of your mind and your emotions rather than ruminating on your ‘failed’ plan—by attaining some amount of inner peace again you will be more apt to keep an open mind—to see the yeses that exist beyond your no.
Choose to Pursue Joy
This adage can seem insensitive, or like a platitude to fill that awkward conversation between you and your best-intentioned colleague, but in reality, this conscious, intentional effort to choose joy and actively pursue in the midst of struggle is the only way to come out the other side. Please note, this is not “faking it till you make it” with your emotions, physical or mental well-being, this is not playing Pollyanna or turning on the fire hose of toxic positivity. This is instead an excruciatingly slow and painful pursuit of finding purpose again, of attributing reason to those tragedies that are beyond reason.
Shonna Waters, PhD and Vice President of Alliance Solutions for BetterUp encourages individuals to build resilience by reframing threats instead as challenges, or in the case of life’s biggest blows—as flukes. When we something as a threat, we, “perceive that the situation is beyond our control, begin to develop fear, anxiety and anger, feel a fight or flight response.” Conversely if we can see an event as a challenge or as a fluke, we recognize the possibility of growth and we, “perceive that we have the resources to deal with that situation”.
Where to Next?
When you literally hear a no, receive a rejection, are denied a promotion, or life delivers you a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, your response is critical to your ability to regain traction. FastCompany explains it like this, “You can fight back, you can walk away, or you can work to correct the course. All of those responses can be right depending on the situation, but no matter which path you choose, you have to learn from the experience.” The longer we cling to the idea of what should have been, the longer we deny ourselves the opportunity to see new possibilities in uncharted destinations.
This is exactly what Andrea Sorenson, founder and CEO of Liiingo, did on countless occasions in her pursuit of success. Out of a desire to leave a legacy of impact, she set her intention and utilized the seemingly unsorted hand life had dealt her to find her niche. Her vulnerability and honesty and sharing her own story, is leading not only her company but also other working mothers to continue looking for possibility in the midst of potholes.
Sometimes our Type-A natures can prevent us from seeing the beauty in a “Plan B” and our own ability to make something beautiful out of what others have deemed broken. 57% of employers value resilience in their workforce, and 71% value the ability to adapt (a key component of resiliency)— how have you intentionally invested in your own capacity for resilience? What closed doors are preventing you from creating the kind of impact you want to leave as a legacy?