Did you know that half of the Fortune 500 companies started in a bear market or recession? HALF.
There’s a phrase that has emerged since the start of the pandemic that I really dislike; unprecedented times. It’s bandied about as if we are the first humans in the history of the world to struggle. To experience complex trauma on a global scale. We use this phrase like a crutch propping up our obstacles and justifying why we’re having a tough time getting out of bed.
But here’s the thing, very little of what we’re experiencing is unprecedented. The problem with this statement is our concept of time and the egocentric nature of our existence. We are all the stars of our own movies and we believe that the movie we’re staring in (our own lives) is the first movie to ever exist. Which is just patently not true.
Here are a few pandemics from our very short human history:
- Antonine Plague (165)
2000 p/d dead
- The Black Death (1347)
- Small Pox Pandemic (1870)
- Russian Flu (1889)
- H3N2 Pandemic (1968)
Pandemics are not new. Our reaction to them is not new. Living through a pandemic is not unprecedented. Surviving a pandemic is also not unprecedented.
In fact, trauma is a very valuable part of the human experience. It’s an integral part of our ability to evolve, grow, innovate and survive. Without trauma, there would be no humanity. To quote Robert Zubrin, a scientist, engineer and advocate for exploring Mars:
“Humans aren’t native to Earth, they’re native to the Ethiopian Rift Valley [cradle of humankind]. It was only when we expanded into new hostile terrain were we forced to innovate, to create technologies that benefit our species”
We are built for this. We are built for trauma. We are built for obstacles. We need to struggle to grow.
This concept actually has a name… It’s called Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).
PTG is a concept describing positive psychological changes experienced as a result of struggling with highly challenging, highly stressful circumstances. One study showed that as many as 89% of survivors report at least one aspect of posttraumatic growth, such as a renewed appreciation for life.
Yet we wait. We wait for conditions to be perfect before we start that new business, engage in a new hobby, tell someone we love them or do something we’ve never done before.
Perfect conditions are bad for success and bad conditions are perfect for success.
If everything was perfect then why would you start something new and difficult? If leaving the Ethiopian Rift Valley was easy we would be the same humans that we were thousands and thousands of years ago because we never would have needed to evolve to survive. But evolve we did. Because humans are built for this. We didn’t wait for the Earth to change so we could leave the valley safely and in comfort. Fuck no. We forged ahead because we wanted to explore the world. We wanted to venture and adventure. We wanted to be more.
Don’t wait for things to be perfect because perfection is a lie. There is no perfect. There is no ideal. There is only right fucking now. Waiting for perfection puts us in a bucket with everyone else. It puts us on the sinking ship. It puts us at the back of a very long queue.
Perfect prevents progress and easy actually makes things difficult.
It’s our perception of now that actually defeats us. Things happen all the time that can be understood as good or bad, valuable or worthless. One person’s mountain is another’s molehill. One person’s trauma is another person’s victory more often than not.
You get to choose to ignore the prevailing narratives and tell your story about your own experiences. You get to choose. So choose the path of least expectation and see your trauma as a gift that can turn you into a better version of yourself.