“Life handed him a lemon,
As Life sometimes will do.
His friends looked on in pity,
Assuming he was through.
They came upon him later,
Reclining in the shade
In calm contentment, drinking
A glass of lemonade.”
– Flynn, Clarence Edwin
Some of us are so pessimistic that when our good day comes, we wouldn’t know it. And, at the other end of the table are those of us who will walk through our darkest night without blinking an eye because of our optimism. Ultimately, it isn’t what happens to us that matters but how we choose to respond to what befalls us. Our choices make the difference. We can choose to see the half-filled glass either as half-full or half-empty, either way we are right.
As a reader of Forbes Africa, edition after edition I read entrepreneurs share stories of their worst days in business and how they come out of it and more beautifully, the lessons they learnt from it. At the end of the bad experience they are armed with knowledge no business school or business book could have passed across. From the brink of failure, they rise with a new gusto, gather momentum and launch out to a height never thought possible. Sometimes, we need to fall down to rise tall, sometimes, we need to step back to step forward. Let’s paint it better. In a game of long jump, to make a good jump, you first need to take steps backward.
Someone sent me the story of his worst day and I think its worth sharing. It sounds like the process of making lemonade out of the lemon life threw at you. Read Ademola Adesina’s story below:
“Many times we pass through situations we think we can never get out from. Those situations make us continue to think about bad things that have happened to us and worry about worse things that could possibly happen. Most times we get pessimistic and start preparing for doom even when the wind is good and fair. During those periods we look for succour in different places and get none, instead its discouragement we get. We can’t just see light at the end of the tunnel and so we conclude that it’s a deadlock and nothing good can come out of the experience. My broken-hand-experience however changed the way I saw challenges.
“I was a right-hander and like many other people I was over-dependent on my right hand. That over-dependence was however shattered by a terrifying sound. That horrifying sound was like the sound made when a bamboo is being crushed by the tyres of a lorry.
“That agonizing sound I described was the sound I heard from my right fore-arm. The day was December 5 and that particular Saturday began as a beautiful day. No signs in the sky of the evil to come, no warning, no omen, I didn’t have the slightest inkling it would be a horrible day, one in which you wished you never left your bed. It was the second semester of my third year in the university and exams were very close. I had just finished studying the course I would be having on the 7th, which was two days away. I heard my hostel mates beckon on anyone that wanted to excite himself on the football field. I thought it was a great idea to play soccer after some serious study and so I decided to join in the fun, giving myself only an hour break.
“We didn’t play much before our team was evicted and we were waiting to get in again. We played ‘sets.’ Sets was an organised form of football where a team that evicts its opponent gets to play on as long as it remains undefeated. A set was later evicted and we were finally in to play for another few minutes. I was playing the defence role and was doing it well till I noticed that all my players had been dribbled by an opponent. I was only left with a team mate that played both as a keeper and a defender. In order to save a goal that would have counted against my team and sent us out again I had to do perform a stunt that required a stretch. That I did, and then, I fell. With a stiff body on the ground, the first thing I thought of doing was to stretch forth my right hand and then I heard that sound – the sound of a crushed bamboo under the tyres of a lorry! Immediately, I knew something had happened in my right hand and I knew it was serious. Everyone at the scene was terrified. I was immediately rushed to the hospital on a motorcycle.
“On getting to the hospital I suddenly realised I was sweating profusely, that on its own defied explanation. It seemed like I was losing control over my own body. I would later be told by the doctor that I was in shock at that point. After I recovered from the shock, I knew it was time to agree that I wasn’t dreaming and that the best thing to do then was to look for the best solution to the greatest challenge I ever had. As a “rightie,” I knew I was in a deep mess considering the fact that my exams were beginning in less than forty-eight hours time. Suddenly, an unusual courage sprang up in me. I believed I was still going to write my papers. I didn’t know how but I just knew I would. At that point, I started hurrying the doctors in charge, “Please I have papers on Monday, come and help me fast,” I told one of them. Then she asked, “what hand do you write with?” and I told her it was my right hand and then she replied “you can’t write any exam, with what hand will you do it?” It sounded like a death sentence being read out but I looked at her and shove off what she said. I kept on thinking of the best ways to write the exams and I concluded that I was going to use my left hand.
“Within a few minutes, I was wheeled into the theatre and in no time woke up with very heavy and bulky white substance they referred to as cast. I headed straight back to my hostel and asked a friend to get me a 2D Writing book – that book with multi-coloured lines used mainly in primary schools to teach pupils writing skills. I had less than thirty-five hours to train my left hand to write the whole of my exams.
By Monday morning, I had done all I could do to attempt the exams and I was confident of success. I started my first paper with many of my course mates pitying me but I didn’t allow myself to be pitied. Instead I told my course mates jokingly that I was going to write better than them even with my left hand.
“After writing the first paper, I understood the power of courage. Though there were difficult times, times I had to punch the calculator first with one hand (my left) and then put what was calculated on paper with the same hand. I had to think before I wrote and not the regular ‘think as you write’. Several times I was fed up with writing but I kept enduring till I finished all my papers.
“On appearing at the hospital for follow up check, I saw the doctor that told me earlier that I could not write the exams and I greeted her. Then she asked while walking away, “so, did you write the exams?” and I replied “yes, I did.” She paused and looked at me before she left. I believe she was surprised.
“The results came out and I had satisfactory grades, though there was an ‘F’ but there wasn’t an extra year. This experience has left me with the opinion that situations, either favourable or not, give you the opportunity to make the best choices. Whatever you may be going through is not a problem, it’s a challenge and challenge, they say, is the breakfast of champions.”
Let’s all wish Demola well as he goes ahead to serve his country in a few weeks time.
He’s @abdem2020 on twitter.