Chaos Creates Opportunity

The focus in today’s employment workplace is now centered on how the pandemic is changing how and where we work. It’s seems overwhelming to think of all the ramifications of what may happen in the global economy. Nothing seems clear and solutions appear chaotic. Perhaps the pandemic is an opportunity to innovate like we never did before.

Look how quickly we transitioned to remote work. Hidden in complicated calamity is that radical changes often force people to rethink the way things are done. It’s natural to fear the future, yet an awareness of what needs to be changed may actually be a catalyst to a better future.

Perhaps the evolution of the Harry Potter books, and the career of Stephen King  involving setbacks and over whelming odds can offer us some insights.

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J.K Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a train from Manchester to London. The next 7 years involved the death of her mother, the birth of her first child, a divorce from her first husband and living in poverty.

Despite these challenges she became a best-selling author having sold 450 million books and earning $1 billion dollars. Keep in mind that it took her 5 YEARS to finish the first book. The first 12 publishers that read it turned her down. When she finally finished her first book, it was eventually published by Bloomsbury, a publishing house in London. This was due to Alice Newton, the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury’s chairman, who gave the girl the first chapter to review and she wanted to read more of the book.

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Stephen King wrote his first best-selling novel Carrie on his wife’s portable typewriter. His wife found the first 3 pages of the story in the trash and talked him into continuing his writing. Before his first book Carrie was published, King was rejected 30 times, but his wife encouraged him to try one more editor. Doubleday finally accepted the manuscript and the book sold a million copies the first year. Now Stephen King has a net worth of  $400 million dollars, making him one of the richest authors in the world. He has published 57 novels and all of them are bestsellers. 

Steve Jobs started Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak in his garage in 1976. Steve was fired by Apple in 1985 after a failed boardroom coup when share prices started dropping.

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He was rehired when Apple bough Steve’s company Next and after took over for the second time, he brought the company back to profitability. Apple eventually became the first publicly traded U.S. company to be valued at over $1 trillion with 123,000 full-time employees and 504 retail stores in 24 countries.

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The Kansas City Star fired Walt Disney in his early 20s. After he started a business called Laugh-o-gram Studios, which went bankrupt. The Disney moved to Hollywood with his brother Roy and founded The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio where he found success with Mickey Mouse. Today, The Walt Disney Company is a $59 billion business that includes theme parks, publishing, film and cable television.

In the 1999 movie, The Matrix, taking a red pill or a blue pill represented a choice between taking a red pill that that revealed the unpleasant truth or taking a “blue pill” to remain in blissful ignorance.

In life, most of us want to take the blue pill. Day after day, we choose the illusion of certainty rather than the complicated reality of uncertainty. The late Stephen Hawking said, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it’s the illusion of knowledge.” It’s what blinds us to our own paralysis and keeps us from growing.

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Adversity often plays a vital role in our growth and greatness. What we learn from dealing with adversity (reality), is what often creates opportunities for our growth.

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