“Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.”– Viktor Frankl
This quote is a philosophy of life. Now, what this philosophy is saying is that you should live as if you were granted that new life, living for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now. So, you need to approach this life with a mindset that you can make better decisions than in your “first life”. The first time I read this quote, I was going through a very trying time in my life. These words sparked a fire in me that got me through those dark times.
As you may know, Frankl was a successful psychologist in Vienna, who in 1942 was arrested and placed into a concentration camp along with his family. Three years later when that concentration camp was liberated, most of his family was dead, including his wife. In 1946, Viktor wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, which detailed his time in the camp where he worked as a therapist. He really went through a soul-crushing experience.
Last year, 2019, while touring Europe, my family and I visited these Auschwitz Camps. Walking through these camps was such an emotional and truly humbling experience. Frankl says, “What is to give light, must endure burning.” So, this means, “No test, no testimony!”.
Everybody can lead themselves in good times, but it’s in times of crisis and adversity that true leadership comes out. When things fall apart, true leaders show up. Leadership begins with you as a person; how you lead your thoughts, ideas, dreams, emotions, etc. Failing at this level means you can’t lead others, period. A crisis is meant to bring out the best in us, not to crush us. Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” We can always learn from the crisis. We should never panic and allow fear to take over and paralyze us, leaving us in a state of inaction.
After losing my mother at the young age of sixteen, I was devasted and in a state of inaction. I came across the book by Robert H. Schuller entitled – Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do! This book, which started my library, saved my life. It re-kindled my fire, it set my soul on fire again! One of the many lessons I learned from that book is the one that says, “When something terrible happens, don’t do anything, just think.” When you do something out of fear, many mistakes are bound to happen because your rational thinking is not part of the equation at that moment. However, when you think, when you deliberately engage your thinking brain, you automatically tap into the divine intelligence in you. This is when you approach life as if you are living for the second time and as if you had acted wrongly on this the first time and now is the time to fix it and do it right! What a way to approach life especially during the crisis.
The second book in my newly formed library at sixteen was by Martin Luther King, Jr – Strength to Love. In this book, MLK says, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” This quote, further strengthened my faith. These lessons learned earlier on in my life taught me that life is too short to rely only on your own personal experiences. Jim Rohn put it succinctly, “It’s important to learn from your mistakes, but it is BETTER to learn from other people’s mistakes, and BEST to learn from other people’s successes. It accelerates your own success.” There’s wealth of information out there in books, videos, mentor (in-person and virtual), strangers, etc. There’s no shortage of experiences to help us become better people and handle different situations better, but there’s a lack of hunger for more. The hunger for more helps you develop a questioning mind leading to growth and when the crisis comes, your vast knowledge and experiences insulate you from getting rattled and paralyzed by the crisis. When you train your mind to think, you always learn from your misfortunes.
We human beings are braver than we think and stronger than we know. Like any other generation before ours’, we will overcome this pandemic. This is the opportunity for us to challenge our limits instead of being limited by our challenges. Challenges are great teachers to make us wiser, more creative, braver and more noble people. We will surely become even better than before. Keep on developing yourself and expand your experiences, this will insulate you during challenging times like this.
Veli Ndaba is a Professional and Motivational Speaker, Life-Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Author of three books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org , www.velindaba.com or +27 83 304 9773