HOW DO WE OVERCOME ADVERSITY?
It is always interesting to look back on our lives from the position of being at peace. I don’t know about you, but my life has consisted of many, many peaks and valleys. One of the things I have learned is that when I am in a place of a being down, I have a mind that lies to me. It says it will always be like this.
I call it ‘having a faulty filter’. I believe what is not true, I interpret what is not meant, and I hear what is not said. I must always check with someone I can trust when I get into that state of mind. Fortunately for me I have a wonderful group of friends who help keep me on the straight and narrow.
So, what started this morning’s thinking?
A few days ago was the anniversary when I made the decision to change the direction of my life. It was thirty years ago. There I was, minding my own business, in a second marriage with two young children. I had just lost a lot of money on a movie I was producing, and I calculated I had a good 25 to 30 years to make a comeback. No problem. Relaxed, I went to bed and woke up at age 60. I was stunned. How could this be? I wish I’d planned better. But the time between my 30's and my 60's flew by like a rocket!
You might say that it was like riding the head of a ballistic missile, unguided, as it would turn out. When I stopped to take stock, here is where I am. I have a nice home in Vancouver, and a nice apartment in Toronto. I have a reasonable amount of savings. But it wasn’t always this way.
One day, totally out of the blue and unexpectedly I was injured and it appeared the career I had was about to end abruptly. I had to ask myself, what are my choices? I had to take stock of my life and figure out; how can I transfer some of my other assets and learn how to make a living in a hurry.
As a producer, what I had was the talent and ability to conceive an idea and translate that onto the screen so that significant numbers of people would want to watch what was created and produced. More importantly, in the past, when I made 10 pitches, I would end up with between 3 and 5 productions on average. At my lowest point four years ago I went through 335 no’s. It wouldn’t take a Las Vegas bookie to say the odds were not in my favor.
I started to focus on a new career, writing nonfiction self-help books and doing inspirational and motivational speaking. I also considered a teaching position. I had won a teaching award, so I knew I have that ability. The good news is, three years later, I am back producing, and I’ve now written three books, one of which has won the Reader’s Favorite Award in New York on this very subject of Overcoming Adversity and Aging. So here is what I learned in a nutshell.
If you are about to embark on any major changes in your life due to a financial setback, the loss of a job or management position you want to know: what can I do to help myself?
You may be impacted by the financial meltdown that occurred after 2008. You may have experienced the loss of your spouse or life partner or your closest friends. You may have recently been diagnosed with a life-altering illness, whether it’s terminal or not. Or you are one of the Boomers who are fortunate enough to be retiring. It’s important for any of us, whether self-employed or as an executive or manager or as a front-line employee, to do an inventory of our assets.
That inventory should include not only our financial assets, but also our family, friends, health, mementos of our past, keepsakes from our children, awards, and a list our achievements. It is a very good idea to do this. It is also important to sit down and look at every aspect of your finances too.
Why? Because the same brain that lies to us will also try to convince us that we are completely deficient. My mind will tell me “I don’t have all the skills necessary to proceed with something that is out of my comfort zone.” It might say, “I’ve worked at Acme Tool and Gear all of my life, and now I want to start up a bookstore cafe. How crazy is that”? Not very if you are innovative and add things like coffee, comfortable chairs, author’s readings, a gift shop, book club and make it a center for the community!
While my story may be different in the sense of what I did for a living, my experience of being blind-sided by some unforeseen event is exactly what happens every day of the week across North America, the UK (Brexit was a shocker, no?) and around the world in general. And it is only exacerbated by what is going on in the world geopolitically. There are those whose lives are altered because of a serious car accident or industrial accident. You may have experienced the loss of their marriage, the death of a partner. Someone close to you is suffering from the family disease of alcoholism or drug addiction. Difficulties with our children or challenges with our siblings, or the financial meltdown over the past several years may be plaguing us.
Here is the good news. If I found a way out, so can you. And here is the key: you are not to blame. You may have to take responsibility for what’s happened to you and not get caught up in a victim stance, but you don’t have to give up.
We may also have to change course in life. For any of you who are sailors, you know that frequently we must tack when we’re heading into the wind and go in the opposite direction to get to where we are going. At times, it will appear we are going the wrong way as we go to a starboard tack to a port tack. And we may have to be ready to let go of old ideas if there is something new trying to make its way into our life.
There are countless millions of others out there going through the same thing that you and I are. The key is to find fellow travelers with whom you can share your journey in a safe environment and thus overcome whatever adversity life throws at you.
We deserve to enjoy the benefits of our hard work in these ‘golden years’ in a way our parents or grandparents could never have ever imagined. “We are the Champions” as Freddy Mercury, sang in his iconic hit song with his band Queen, back in the 70s.
So, how you ended up here was by showing up and not dying. From the point at age thirty-five until today seems like it’s only been a few years. It's over thirty! To many people, it’s half a lifetime. It’s gone by so quickly.
TAKING STOCK OF OUR LIVES
So what have I accomplished? What is the truth? Yes, we’ve had disappointments. Who hasn’t? But because of taking responsibility for them and doing the work that needed to be done, I’ve clean up the wreckage of my past. Financially I’ve probably paid back eighty, or ninety per cent of the people I harmed through indebtedness when I was in my late 20's and lost over $5 million dollars on a movie I was producing in the United States. And, more importantly I’ve never had any of those kinds of financial problems again. Another tough lesson learned. And another case that I never thought would improve. I was sure I was destined to be a pauper.
I was married a second time to a very funny lady, Deborah. Because of that union, we have two children who are now young adults, Brendan, and Laurel. They have both worked with me in the past. I have healed my relationship with my two oldest children, Andrew, Colleen and my four grandkids, Sophie, Guerin, Henry, and Conlan.
I taught as a faculty member at three universities: York University and Ryerson University in Toronto, where I was the recipient of the CESAR teaching award. Then I added one more university to my CV - Capilano University in North Vancouver, British Columbia.
In addition to my film and television productions, I’ve been President of several film and television production companies that have enjoyed tremendous critical and financial success. I've had the privilege of working with a lot of people over the years in a few disciplines, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the most intelligent, noteworthy and influential people on the planet. So there is hope.
The key is to find a group of like-minded people you can trust. I used the 8 Steps of the Master Mind to assist me in my journey. It’s easy to find on the internet. It is a blueprint for how to live your life with purpose and meaning. Or, you can go to my website www.davidbradybooks.com and read about it there or watch a few of my videos. We are designed to be with others. That is the key. Know, that you are not alone.
David Brady has 30 years of experience as an award-winning writer, producer and director of feature film and international television productions. In June, 2015 he founded David Brady Communications and changed his focus on writing nonfiction books.