I met with Ivan in his home and had a chat to him whilst he was sitting in his recliner chair.
We jumped straight in and I started off by inquiring as to how he would describe himself to others. After a long silence of close to a minute, he replied by saying that he was “moderately successful and satisfied even in his declining years”. In exploring this further, he described that that his success arose from his experience with his family, in particular, the sense of pride he had when reflecting on his offspring, wife and the opportunity to be able to see the good and bad over the years. In an attempt to refine his response to the initial question, Ivan again paused and described himself as being “forthright and proud”.
'don’t bank on everything being the same in the future as it has been in the past'.
The conversation moved on to one of the hardest times in his life, the loss of his best friends, his parents, just eight weeks a part. Ivan’s speech slowed down and his words became softer as he explained. He mentioned that his father had died in his sleep and his mother at the dining table. Whilst he explained that they both experienced heart attacks, he said with certainty that his mother died of a broken heart.
The reality of the events didn’t hit him at first, not until approximately six weeks after his mother died. At this time he was driving home from a work trip in Canberra when the experience occurred. He described it as an almighty blow from a blunt instrument to his stomach. The feeling was so intense that he had to pull over on the side of the road for around thirty minutes. In that moment he was experiencing tremendous loss, he felt as though he had nothing, no wife, no family, he was consumed by a state of absolute loss. The feeling eventually dissipated and sadness set in as he made his way back to normality of some sorts. “Thankfully” he stated, that he had not experienced that feeling before, nor has he since.
We then moved onto Ivan’s inner alterations following this experience. With certainty he recalled the ways in which his perspectives were altered. He learnt to appreciate every day, to make everyday a winner (for example - make more sales, work a little harder to win in all areas) and he learnt to strike while the iron was hot. These motivating perspectives didn’t last forever, Ivan cycled back to normality in time.
He did mention that another lesson remained consistent throughout his life - the reminder not to ‘count your chickens before they hatch’. His interpretation of this was more than the linear perspective generally shared. The real understanding seemed to be this - ‘don’t bank on everything being the same in the future as it has been in the past'.
This perspective is useful for various reasons. Firstly, because it does not limit you to your limiting beliefs, to your past state, instead it allows you to be free and encourages you to choose your path at any time. We often restrict ourselves as we believe things will just be as they always have been and we begin to use comments such as "that's just the way it is", "that's just me" or "I have always just been like this". These sort of beliefs limit us to believe that the past is the only predictor of the future and restricts our ability to spark change. The understanding that Ivan shared removes the expectations of how things will be and rather allows you to focus on the potential opportunities. This idea is also a powerful reminder that we shouldn’t take things for granted, that we won't always have all the great things in the future as we do now.
Ivan in accordance to his joking and abrupt personality also added a few other Life Lessons:
Never give a sucker an even break.
Admit nothing, deny everything.
Say "thank you" - genuinely just saying thank you to a higher power.
One of the most significant messages that I took away from my time with Ivan, was that success evokes a sense of pride.
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