I can remember how devastated I was. My life had been completely changed in one single moment... There was no place to hide. I was a high-level executive, at one of the most prestigious companies in Canada. I had worked hard to make it to the top and at that time was the only female senior vice president of the company. I had given everything to this company, and in a moment, they swept me under the rug, firing me without explanation with little to no compensation package. (From: It's the Landing That Counts by Margot Micallef & Warren Broad c. 2014)
Mike Tyson said it best:
"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
If you've ever been "punched in the face" emotionally, spiritually or financially then you know the painful feelings of uncertainty and fear that come with it.
How can it be that moments before, your life seemed to have a clear and defined plan... but now it feels uncertain, terrifying, and upside down? You don't know how you're going to move forward. You feel sick to your stomach.
You are in a free fall.
If this is not a term that you have heard before then let me explain: You're in a free fall when your life suddenly seems out of control. It isn't just being fired that causes someone to spiral into a free fall. It's anything that throws you seriously off your life's course. Maybe your lover or your spouse leaves you, or your children disappoint and betray you, or you feel like your life has no purpose, or you're in dire straights financially or maybe you've lost a loved one. Whatever the cause, a free fall leaves you reeling from the shock and uncertainty of it all. You may be wondering how things got to this point. Maybe everything you believed in -- your entire foundation -- feels shaken to the core and you don't know how you're going to move forward.
A free fall is a serious, painful and lonely experience. Friends, family and coworkers often change the way they interact with you - if they even continue to speak to you. I know when I was fired from my job, people who I had supported or promoted in and out of the company, people who I thought were my friends or should have been loyal to me, abandoned me. This disconnection is painful and heightens the feelings of isolation and shame because we think we are so alone in our experience that no one could possibly connect with our pain.
But we are not alone. In our book It's The Landing That Counts, my co-author Warren Broad and I explain that knowing that we are not alone in our experience and pain is the first step in healing. There are also steps you can take to ease the pain and move towards recovery. We call this recovery the "landing" and if you are living your life to the fullest you will go through multiple free falls. As David Baird says in his book Enlightenment "Mistakes are the dues one pays for a full life". You will make lots of mistakes in life, life will throw you curve balls and the uncertainty will knock you down over and over again. Which is why it's important for you to understand that it's not falling down that matters it's getting back up again.
The title of our book came from a friend of mine. Some time after I was fired from my very prestigious job a former colleague asked a friend of mine how I was doing. My friend, who was proud of my recovery, exclaimed: "Are you kidding? Margot has landed, in high heels!" And I had. Being fired was the best thing that happened to me. It created opportunities for me that I did not know existed. It set me free from the shackles of security and forced me to dig deep and find my new path. And I did. The accolades and success I enjoyed as an entrepreneur would not have been available had I not been forced to let go of what I knew and embrace the uncertain future.
I have learned through my multiple free falls that there are seven steps you need to undertake to recover from your free fall and to land well. And even if you are not in a crisis per se but have stagnated and need to propel yourself forward, these seven steps will show you the way:
1. Understand and adopt the Faith Phenomenon: a strong and unwavering belief that the outcome will be positive no matter what is happening at any point in your life.
2. Break the broken record of negative thoughts and the destructive internal dialogue.
3. Shift gears from being a victim of your circumstances to actively meditating and "rewiring" your mental processes and attitude through hypnotic mediation.
4. Let go of your history and identify and visualize the outcome that you desire or that is now possible as a result of your free fall.
5. Take the steps necessary to manifest your desired outcome.
6. Overcome the roadblocks, resist the pull to retreat following setbacks (and there will be setbacks) and continue to push forward.
7. Be grateful and give back to those who are were you once were (even if you have only advanced incrementally from where they are). It will make you stronger and catapult your recovery and soften your landing.
If life has spared you a free fall up to now, you are one of the rare ones, or you have closed yourself off from reality and risk. Everyone suffers adversity or free fall and all that matters is how you land. You cannot grow or learn from stagnation. You cannot test your mettle without pain. And you cannot forge new paths unless you are willing to veer off course. While it doesn't feel like it while you are in a free fall, it is likely that once you land you will come to realize that you are the better for it - whatever path you choose to take thereafter.
This quote from Kristen Jongen from her book: Growing Wings (2006) says it all:
Most profound was discovering that the anchor She had been clinging to so tightly also yielded the rope that bound her feet to the floor. In what appeared to be a desperate loss of security... the cord was cut revealing her defining truth. She had wings... and was always intended to fly.
Follow Margot M. Micallef, Q.C. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/margotmicallef