Episode 29: How To Grow Through Life Transitions

Good morning! And thank you for joining me on Live a Life By Design. Your Monday morning moments of motivation. You know, I just wake up in the morning thinking what a great day to get out and make a difference in the world. I hope you do as well. Part of the point of my entire podcast strategy is to give you that pulse of positivity on a Monday to help you get out and make your week the best it can be.

You see, we realize our expectations in life. If you want to wake up this morning and take the world by the tail and let it be your item to own. You can take on that world, make it what you wish and let it know who’s the boss. You see I heard a friend of mine, the other day, just complain about Monday. Oh, man, it’s Monday, I can’t believe the weekend went so fast and it didn’t even get to seem like I rested all weekend. You know I looked him right in the eye and I said, you realize the same 24 hour time span you said went so fast was one that I maximized the time. Man, I spent time with family. I spent time exercising. I spent time watching some good collegiate football. I had the best weekend and I slept 8 hours each night.

Now, you see, we all have a certain amount of time. But time is not in our control in terms of how quickly it will lapse. But what is in our control is how we utilize it. And sometimes, in time, these things we’re gonna talk about today, called life transitions occur without any help from you or me. I’m talking today about this thing called life transitions. You know there are different themes in life, but this one isn’t based on stages of life, or ages of life. You see the focus today is not on aging, but the experiences we face and how we can grow through times of difficulty.

Life Transitions

You know, let’s define life transitions for just a moment. So that we’re all on the same page. I define a life transition as an event in our life that causes us to reexamine our sense of being. My wife and I are experiencing a life transition currently. Yep, our home is now an empty nest. Now not all of life’s transitions are negative. We got the entire run of the whole house now, and we can watch whatever we want to watch on TV. Or, if we don’t want to watch TV and just read a good book, we can do that as well. It is the quietest I’ve seen our home ever. And normally, boy, we had the best of times with our kids, still do to this day, but they’re out making their way through the world and they call themselves independent. And we’re hoping they go out and make the world a better place. That’s all we’ve ever asked of our children, was to go out and make the world a better place.

Life Experiences

You see, the typical type of life transition that I’m going to refer to today is one that is negative. And it is the loss typically of that loved one. Particularly a child. In 1995, my world changed forever. You see, April the 19th of 1995 was a horrific day in Oklahoma, you’ve heard me speak of it before on this podcast. It was the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The federal building was an act of terrorism. But what happened just 24 hours later was truly a life transition. 24 hours later, I lost the youngest of my three sisters to leukemia. Having struggled with this disease for more than a year, she finally won the battle. This life transition to us was an immediate shock. It was not something we easily accepted as we questioned why in many ways did this have to occur.

When we were faced with a gentleman that had to be in his 70s, as he pushed down his IV stand down through the hospital waiting room, he saw us there. He said to us, he did not understand why he was remaining on this planet and this young lady of 35 years of age with a 3-year-old son, an 8-year-old daughter, and a 12-year-old daughter still at home was taken so young. But after this immediate shock, we became aware of the lives that our sister had touched. The world was not truly a sad place, it was a better place for us once we realized this life transition was taking place.

We’re gonna talk today about how we can overcome some of the challenges of life’s transition and grow through them and learn to have a bigger, better and bolder life. These three strategies, of the first one, I simply say spending considerable time focusing on where you want to be in life. Now there are some people that may or may not be able to create this vision of what they want to do, or where they want to be in life. We must find a way to create a vivid vision that gives us the opportunity to grow and move forward in life.

This is a time of introspection and evaluation of what is considered important to you in this new paradigm. It wouldn’t surprise you that priorities can change after a life transition. Your overall goals may even change. For example, I know of a gentleman that was focused on making his first million when a freak accident cost him his only child. A little girl. The tragedy nearly tore his marriage apart and caused him significant depression as well as other psychological challenges. After a few months, he realized that his priorities were no longer about material wealth but about bringing more focus to pediatric cancer treatments. The story is too hard to imagine, yet the saga is retold daily, somewhere in the world. However, the bright side of this story is the advancement being realized in treating many pediatric cancer cases is continuing to grow. He took his momentum, his abilities, and his capabilities and brought to light the attention needed to get funding that is necessary today to continue research on resolving pediatric cancers.


So first spend considerable time focusing where you want to be in life. What truly is your happiness going to be. And the second strategy, focus on your strengths to help you find the path back to normalcy. Gosh, I said that word. I really hate to even use the word normal. You now, I took psychology in undergrad, and I will tell you they said there is no such thing as normal. That we’re all wired just a little differently in how we function, our personality, or how we treat others. So defining the word normal to me is like throwing jello on the wall and hoping it sticks. Everyone has a different meaning for the word. To seek your traditional normal may not be an option if you’ve suffered through a horrific life transition. Let’s work on the new normal.

I’m reminded of the story of Jim Abbott. Now, unless you’re a baseball fan like me, you may not even recall the name Jim Abbott. But Jim Abbott is another great example of someone who didn’t let their disability get in the way of their athletic profession and love for their sport. Being born without a right hand would most likely be a large hindrance on playing any sport, but that didn’t stop him. Jim went on to play in the college baseball scene, all the way up into the New York Yankees. He became one of the best left handed pitchers in the entire league, and scored a grand total of 888 strikeouts against opposing batters. Not only did Jim Abbott make it all the way to the major league without a right hand, but he did so without playing in a single minor league game. He honed his skills with what he had, something we all should strive to do.

Jim grew up in Flint, Michigan, attended high school and college in his home state. He never let his disability get in the way of his passion, and honed his pitching skill with his left hand. He even learned how to catch using a mitt and his right forearm. During his time in the major leagues, players on the opposing team would actually try to exploit his weakness by bunting the ball in order to prevent him from catching the ball and throwing to the base players. This tactic proved ineffective, and he continued to make double plays throughout his career. He later went on to write an autobiography and titled it “Imperfect: An Improbable Life”, and it outlines the struggles and obstacles he had to overcome in order to become as successful as he was in the Major League Baseball area.

Abbott didn’t sit around thinking about what was missing in life. Whoa is me was never on his mind. Why did this happen to me? How come I’m different than someone else? I got news for you, he did what I’m recommending. He focused on his strengths. He possessed an uncanny capability to transition to use his glove from just on his forearm. You know, we all struggle in life, but the real champions of this world don’t stop with the struggle. They find a way to succeed. I’ve often heard that when you’re going through a struggle in a valley, keep going. Don’t sit there and think that’s your final destination. It’s all a journey in life. So always remember to focus on your strengths when you have a life transition.

And the third strategy, we recommend, keep your mind open to all possibilities. Many times we allow our minds to create limits on our capabilities, both physical and mental. After suffering from ALS, this determined intellectual focused on the use of his mind to all the possibilities of the world. His theories on black holes and quantum mechanics created a following and respect from scientists everywhere. Not to be limited to the potential life of being bedridden and unable to communicate, Professor Stephen Hawking used a device that read his eye movements, the only part of his limp body that could move, to “speak” to those around him. This type of imagination empowered Hawking to contribute such breakthroughs in physics that he was awarded a fellowship in the Royal Society, a Commander of the British Empire, the Copley Medal from the Royal Society and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

You see, thinking small never accomplished anything fruitful. By standing still no one makes progress, however, an open mind can travel the planets and transcend time. You see, this point of really looking at three strategies to overcome and grow through these life transitions are not that easy. These strategies are never going to be easy because now we’re going to have to cope with something that’s a changed environment. This is something different than we’ve ever experienced in most cases. But you see, because of the change in environment, your ability to adapt and grow becomes even more important. It’s as if there’s things in our life that we can’t control has thrown us now into disarray. It’s up to us, we are responsible only for ourselves. It’s up to us to find our path again and search out for our destiny.

You see, growth in any form is merely the transformation from a previous state to a new state. You notice I didn’t use the word better state. You are the one to decide if your new you is actually better. Don’t allow the transitions of life to rob you of the potential that lies within you. Learn how to acknowledge the past but focus on the future you desire. Make your strengths relevant by enhancing them through this difficult time and keep your mind open to all the possibilities. No one wants to merely exist. You are a champion today. You will win the challenge of life if you apply yourself, focus on your strengths, keep and open mind. Then the results will take care of themselves. To win it, you must be in it! Be present, life is full of surprises, some good and not so good. But one thing we control is our mindset as to how we respond versus react to life transitions. So often we find ourselves struggling through an issue, when really we have the answers within ourselves if only we controlled our thoughts for a few moments so we could bring those thoughts to the forefront that contained the answers. Open your eyes and your mind to making the time we have on this planet the most rewarding.

Happiness can’t be found if we’re landing in sadville all the time. How many of us have ever surrounded ourselves by people that we consider to be sad sacks, Negative Nancies, you’ve heard me use the names before. These are those people that, as my dad would say, if you hung them with a new rope they’d still complain. We need to surround ourselves by those people that empower us to greater heights. That not only through empathy give us understanding, but don’t allow us to sit and wallow in the past when our new paradigm shift has occurred.

You see, one my favorite quotes is by a man that knew the meaning of maximizing his time on Earth. And he died at a very young age, but I will tell you he was influential in his short life. The quote that he had was, “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of”. And that man was Bruce Lee. One of the most famous martial artists and actors in the world at his time. Bruce Lee had a saying as well, his focus was so keen and so sharp on whatever he was attempting to do in martial arts. He says, “I do not fear the man that knows ten thousand punches and throws them one time. I do, however, fear the man greatly that knows punch, and has practiced it ten thousand times”. You see that focus, that capability to bring out the biggest and most powerful of his being was one of his strengths. Although a very small man in stature, he was a giant among his friends that knew him and the world that saw him on the big screen.

This next week I’d like to ask a favor of each of you. Many of you have asked how can you contribute to the episodes on the podcast. Instead of going to our website, I want to make this real simple for everyone. We have a Facebook page, called “Live a Life by Design”. This week your challenge is to go to that Facebook page, if you haven’t liked it, like and follow our Facebook page but also post a life transition that you experienced and the methods you used to move forward. This allows you to be an inspiration to me. And not only does that help me move forward, I’m certain it will help thousands of others.

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