I was in the ladies room when I ran into a good-friend-of-a-good-friend. We were thrilled to see each other. “I didn’t know you’d be here, Cathy!” I said as we hugged.
“Well how often do you come to this city to speak?! I wouldn’t miss it!” she replied.
We caught up quickly on our kids and men and careers. It was slightly rushed because I was about to go on stage to speak.
That last time I’d seen her, she and her husband were handing me a large cheque as an investment into my old company. Like everyone who invested in the business—from family to Venture Capitalists—they had high hopes for success that we’d all profit from. The business went sideways. When I sent out an email to my circle of friends/investors that it was game over—the company was failing fast—I guarded myself for critical responses. My business savvy friends consoled me: People don’t invest unless they can afford to lose. Everyone here is a grown up. You can move on. Still, I had to wipe the tears off of my keyboard when I pressed send on that email.
Back to the ladies rooms in a snowy city five minutes before curtain call…
“You know I just want to tell you how happy I am for all of your success,” she said. The air got quiet, I knew something else was coming and for a nanosecond I wondered if this would be the time she rightfully gave me a verbal plow for that um, old business ordeal. Instead, this: “Your success now affirms that we were right to invest. It feels so good to know that.”
“I… I…You’re incredible. Thank you. My God… I mean… sorry it didn’t work out… wow… thank you. You’re… wow.” I was so moved. And impressed.
“Oh it’s not about the money,” she said. “It’s just a great affirmation that our instincts were good. The timing wasn’t right, but our hearts were.”
Thankfully I had a crowd waiting because I could have wept then and there. I bit my lip to distract myself from crying. We hugged. I went off to do my thing and on the plane ride home, I surmised that that was one of the most beautiful acts of grace I’d ever been on the receiving end of.
GEMS FROM THIS LESSON IN GRACE
Love is always the right impulse… even if it doesn’t match up with the intended results. Love is always the right thing to do. When we give from a place of love, it’s generative. When you are motivated by love, you will always be creating something that is valuable, and that can be built on. You’re creating something real… good… luminous. Trust your loving instincts.
Extending love will always expand you, and expansion is the whole divine point. I am a believer that most of the time (not all of the time, but the majority) movement is better than stasis. And by “better” I mean: it will expand you. And by “expand you” I mean: you will become a more loving person. More conscious. Action creates expansion. Expansion creates more self-awareness. More self-awareness creates more God-awareness. Nothing ventured… zero expansion.
Loss brings out our truest self. And while grace doesn’t come naturally to all of us—especially when we lose—it can be cultivated… if you go out of your way to be grateful. Gratitude is a form of elegance. Gratitude is the classiest response to so many situations, and if you can be in (conscious) gratitude, grace is sure to follow.
EXCERPTS FROM EPS 13
When things don’t go as planned (and as we move through the grief), we can focus on what loss has taught us versus what it took from us. Free will: we can choose how we perceive things.
Choose a situation that didn’t turn out positively—a rejection, a failure… What’s the truth of yourself that this loss brought out in you? What’s the very specific gratitude that you have for the loss? And how, and to whom, can you express that gratitude? That’s the embodiment of grace, and how you show up in the world as a classy human.
This is a heart-centered how-to. Download the free reflection cards for this episode.