Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Prisoners of our Stories

This is a previous post to my old blog.. but it may be helpful now during the crisis at Virginia Tech. It is about moving toward hopefulness... despite the pain and sadness of a lost. I thought I would repost it today... especially after listening to the memorial service at VT yesterday...

Prisoners of Our Stories

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." - Victor Frankl

I have been rereading some of my books on
Viktor Frankl lately. His life and work are remarkable and I often find it is helpful to reach out to his writings from time to time. This week I have been reading one of his student's books, Prisoners of Our Thoughts by Alex Pattakos. Pattakos does a wonderful job of translating Frankl's work into actions for living. One of the best exercises in the book relates to the story you tell yourself when something bad happens. Quick, think of a situation at work or in your personal life that is or was stressful or challenging. Write down ten positive things that could result or did result from the situation. For me, it went something like this:

We couldn't have children through birth
- We have each other
- We have our health
- There are other ways to have children
- There are children born who need parents
- and on and on...

The long-term result was a son named Nikolas who joined our family in 1999! But the intitial impact of this exercise was one of deep optimisim instead of dispair. One of hope and possibilities instead of sadness. Oh, we were sad about the situation, but we also were hopeful about the goal. The implication for you in your leadership journey is to be prepared to be hopeful regardless of the route you take on this journey.

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