Hindsight’s 2020: Finding the Blessings in Disguise

by placers on October 2, 2020 in Outside Insights


In one of my favorite reads, Zen and the Art of Happiness, Chris Prentiss outlines that things happen in our life for the best possible reasons – we just don’t know why at the time.

So, let me ask you a question for you to ponder this weekend.

What has happened to you that appeared to be bad, but over time your perspective changed? When has bad luck turned to be good luck in the end?

For example, lockdown seemed awful at first. But maybe you now have extra time to cultivate a hobby, cook nutritious meals, and spend time with your family.

This is my bad turned good story – I hope you will share yours with me, too.

It’s February, cold, and snowing.

Kim and I are in Wyoming in full sabbatical mode. On day number 16 of a 30-day trip I talked my adventurous wife into a day of skiing. Keep in mind, I live for snow and cold temperatures. I thoroughly enjoy the stillness and peacefulness of cross-country skiing and back-country snowshoeing.

But on this day, we skied at Grand Targhee on the western slopes of the Grand Tetons. We were on the outback ski run, just before the papoose lane. I wish I could say we were at 12k feet in high winds, deep powder, and a black diamond run with a name like the good, the bad, and the ugly. But there we were when my phone beeps. I stop to read the notification – and its good news! I had received a message from John Fleming of the Small Business Administration office letting me know that I was selected as the SBA’s Small Business Person of the Year.

Sheepishly, I turn and hand my phone to Kim – and she falls down on the mountain.

Although she fell gently, her skis and bindings didn’t flex – unfortunately, her knees did. Seven torn ligament and cartilage (and a lot of physical therapy) later , she is doing much better. At the time, we weren’t aware that this would be an omen for what was to come in 2020.

Fast forward to last week. I’m at the Small Business Person of the Year ceremony at a lovely Italian Restaurant, Vincenzo’s. Normally, this event would have hundreds of people, press, video, government dignitaries, and contemporaries there to cheer you on. This year? 10 folks, including the winners, dined at separate isolated tables. We talked to the Governor as he read our proclamations. Seven winners and seven live zoom feeds. Yes, the ceremony was online. NO, no one other than my parents were watching (thanks mom and dad).

The truth is, I am glad the event unfolded this way. 2020 has really put things into perspective for me. I am finding the good in a weird year and I have so much to be thankful for. I have many blessings in disguise.

“Again, all of life presents us with two basic ways to treat events. We can either label them “good for us” or “bad for us.” The event is only an event. It’s how we treat the event that determines what it becomes in our lives. The event doesn’t make that determination – we do.”

― Chris Prentiss, Zen and the Art of Happiness

I’m more motivated to work towards an item on my life list – a personal podcast. Recently, I’ve been a guest on a local and national radio show lending tips for job searching during the pandemic. This work has helped me gain the confidence I need to take the next step with developing my own podcast.

I have been forced to be in the moment. I was always on the move, between meetings, offices, traveling for business, traveling to life list places. In fact, this story began on a sabbatical 2276 miles from home. I was perpetually in motion. And now, I am not. I now see the little things around me. Hummingbirds on flowers outside my window right now, for example.

I have always said hire great people and get out of the way – COVID has made me live it! I have asthma and with COVID I’ve been home office bound during the pandemic. Giving my team space works to their, and my companies, advantage. I have a great team, but my business is my baby. If I am not careful, my passion and servant leader approach put me in the details on daily basis. Now, I let my team work the magic I know they’re capable of.

Reply to this email and please tell me about one of your blessings in disguise. If one isn’t coming to mind – take a moment to really think. Sometimes, the disguise is extra good – but it’s there all the same.

My thoughts on awards:
I remain incredibly grateful for every recognition Placers has received. But for some cosmic reason, whenever we win an award something bad happens that same week. A key employee quits, a customer refuses to pay a large bill – I’m reminded that we remain imperfect and flawed.

Awards risk distracting me and my team from what won the award in the first place. We start to believe what we read or see and we’re tempted to take our foot off of the pedal and lose our edge.

Being on stage makes it harder to practice servant leadership. My job is to work for my team. Not win awards. Humility by definition is the service to others.

At Placers we are making the following Acts of Kindness Promises:

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We currently have temporary work for folks that need short-term funds.

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