Every once in a while, I screw up in a way that turns out to be a blessing in disguise. I make a wrong turn, for instance, and wind up discovering a little secondhand store I never knew existed. Yay!
Or I miss a plane, but then, as a result, have the time to get an airport-spa massage that I really needed, and I manage to get upgraded on the next flight out. Thanks to the extra elbow-room, I manage to get some work done and actually come out ahead in terms of productivity. Woo-hoo!
These things happen to me all the time — often enough that I’m learning to trust my mistakes. A couple of weeks ago, though, I screwed up big time. And for a while there, I wasn’t at all sure it would turn out well.
It was a crazy period when I was traveling nonstop and also had a series of back-to-back editorial deadlines on two different issues of the magazine. I was attending two conferences and speaking at another, and I was more than a little low on sleep (for more on the importance of respecting your body’s natural rhythms, read “Get Your Groove Back“).
I guess the combination of brain fog and distraction got the better of me, because at some point during a series of fascinating conversations I was having with some fellow conference-goers, I set my laptop down somewhere and — well, frankly, I have no idea what happened to it. All I know is, a few minutes later, when I started making preparations to head to the airport, it was nowhere to be found.
It took about 10 seconds for panic to set in. My deadlines! My data! My presentation! My whole life was on that laptop, but there was not much I could do about it. A fleet of kind people helped me search. I checked with Lost and Found. Nothing.
I had a plane to catch. I had to go. So I left all my contact information with the event organizers and the hotel, climbed aboard the waiting airport shuttle, and hoped for the best.
Over the course of the next few hours, something wonderful happened. Several wonderful things, actually. In the van, rather than working on my presentation or editing articles, I wound up soaking up the scenery, which was beautiful. At the airport, rather than searching for a place to plug in my computer, I perused a bookstore and stumbled on a book I’d been meaning to read. On the plane, rather than furiously editing articles, I succumbed to my low-grade exhaustion and fell fast asleep.
An hour later, feeling refreshed and focused, I reached for my laptop to begin working and realized — doh! — that wasn’t an option. So I cracked open my new book instead.
That book, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think (Free Press, 2012), by X PRIZE Foundation Chairman and CEO Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, is an intriguing one. It makes the case that, despite all the discouraging news about resource scarcity, poverty, social unrest, environmental degradation, health crises and other major downers, the future is actually looking pretty bright.
Humanity, the authors argue, is on the verge (and in the midst) of some major innovations and breakthroughs that bode well for us and for the planet. What’s essential, they note, is that we see the rich opportunities in front of us for what they are, and that we meet them with creativity, hope and energy rather than fear, pessimism and resignation.
A few chapters into my reading, it struck me that there was something of a theme emerging in my day’s events. What seemed like a devastating loss had actually endowed me with a series of gifts, and by allowing myself to embrace the situation with an open mind rather than go into freak-out crisis mode, I’d come out way ahead.
As it turned out, I was able to receive and print the articles I needed to review at my hotel that afternoon. The next morning I got some great news: My laptop had been found and was already en route! I was able to easily complete my presentation (on how to cultivate healthy flow by taking regular breaks), which turned out great. Meanwhile, the work I’d had to delegate as the result of my laptop loss gave other members of my team a chance to do what they do best — rise to challenges with creativity and grace.
Now that I have my computer back, I’m still playing catch-up on some of my deadlines, but we’re releasing this December issue right on time. I hope it inspires you to take good care of yourself through the holiday season and to celebrate all that’s right with yourself and your life, right here and now.