This year has been challenging, to say the least. Each of us has struggled, in one way or another, but with a thoughtful perspective, we can look back at the difficult moments we’ve faced and remember them for what we’ve learned.

One of the greatest lessons of my life is the power of hope — how positive expectations can illuminate our path forward.

If we stop and look around, there is always some source of light in the darkness, shining on different opportunities, pointing toward new possibilities.

Sometimes, a particular light may not shine on the ideal solution or provide the actual answer to our perceived problem. Yet it serves a different, very specific purpose — to motivate us to keep going, so we can connect to what’s next.

Of course, it’s not always easy. There are times when we’ve all felt as if we’re heading in a fruitless direction; we’re inclined to throw in the towel, we’re ready to give up. In these moments, it’s even more important to stay in motion and to see where the light leads us next.

For instance, when I started Life Time in the early 1990s, my pursuit of capital was relentless: I reached out to countless investors, negotiated terms, and got so close to closing several deals. Then a tiny fluke would upend the plan. It felt like the end.

But then a glimmer would appear — another introduction and I was connected with those who believed in ideas like mine. Each door that shut actually brought me closer to the next opportunity. I just couldn’t see it yet.

That is what hope is: moving with faith in the darkness. Trusting that it’s not a wrong turn, or the end, just the connection you need to get to the place you need to be next, and for the whole story to transpire as it’s intended.

I think about Life Time, which has been through hard times before: in 2000, when financing was running low, and in 2008, with the economic meltdown. Today, with no doubt, we’ve been affected by the pandemic, but we’re making it through, as we have in the past. We have followed those glimmers and gleams.

I think of those who have life-threatening diseases and are told there aren’t many options. That is devastating and defeating. But perhaps a light appears: a new treatment, a remedy, a trial.

And, while it may not be a cure, it’s what keeps them going, through the days, months, and possibly even years. To have something to believe in connects them to the miraculous, helping them find new strength and encouraging them to carry on.

This year, our lives and livelihoods have been disrupted as a result of the virus. History has taught us, though,  that we — and our country — will emerge from this better. The lessons, though painful, will teach us how to come together like never before.

The key is to keep going, and, through what we’ve learned and endured, to move with faith, to seek light and a future full of brilliant possibility.

Bahram Akradi

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Bahram Akradi

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