Setbacks happen all the time. They’re simply an inevitable fact of life. It’s our response to these setbacks that pave our way for future success or failure. The truth is, each and every one of us could sit around and victimize ourselves about how some force beyond our control screwed us over and left us in a state of despair. We justify in our minds over again how we are not the ones at fault, as if some unfortunate tragedy was suddenly inflicted upon us against our will. What we seem to forget most though, is that actions have consequences, and consequences present with them new opportunities, if we choose to see them.
Falling Off The Figurative Horse
A couple of months ago I was shooting photos at Bluebird Canyon in downtown Laguna Beach. It was high tide and I made the mistake of leaving my camera bag on the ground behind me a ways back. The exact wave you see pictured above hit the shore and washed out my camera bag. It destroyed my Zeiss 21mm and Canon 16-35mm f4 lenses. It also claimed my phone, wallet, and car keys. Panic set in the second I realized what had happened. I spent an entire evening at a nearby hotel waiting to be rescued, with my water soaked gear in hand. As the dust started to settle, I began feeling hopeless. I spent years saving up for my Zeiss lens and had just purchased my 16-35mm lens not even two weeks prior. The salt water rendered my lenses completely useless. The financial significance of this loss left me screwed. I was contemplating selling off my remaining gear and walking away from photography. I couldn’t understand how this had happened to me.
The Reality of the Situaton
With the support of my amazing wife and family, I was able to pull myself together. I realized I had to accept the reality of the situation. I could choose to be strong or give up and move on. I had to accept that I was responsible for the outcome of the situation and that I was responsible for overcoming the loss. I made a grave mistake that evening by leaving my camera gear unattended. I made another mistake by investing a significant amount of money in camera gear without protecting it with an insurance policy. As soon as I accepted responsibility and stopped being the victim, I was able to see the opportunities this situation had presented. I realized that all hope was not lost despite the difficulties I needed to face in my journey back to the top.
Setbacks will always be difficult to overcome. It’s the reason we call it a setback. The most successful people did not become that way while while walking down a clear path. Thomas Edison, my childhood inspiration, once said “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
It is true that we are only human, no body is perfect. Setbacks will always happen. That’s ok though, it’s a part of our learning process. They help us to grow stronger, smarter, and more determined. Life is a journey with many ups and just as many downs. To think we have control over everything that happens to us is nothing more than an illusion. My father once taught me three very important words from his years of experience in the military. Improvise, Assess, Overcome. Do not be so rigid in your plans that you cannot spontaneously adapt to the changing circumstances you encounter.