“When one door shuts, another one opens, but we sometimes stare at the closed door for so long and with such sadness that we fail to see the one that has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell

I’ve had some major losses in my life. I’m sure you have too. Loss of friendships, loss of professional opportunities, even the loss of a first marriage. In fact today I’m actually taking my daughter back to her sophomore year in college, so I’m about to experience the loss of her daily presence in the house. Loss stings in the moment. But sometimes – oftentimes I’d suggest –  it opens up doors to possibility and expansion. 

Most women, when they get to be my age anyway, have experienced some significant friendship breakups. I’ve had my share; many of my friends have too. And while they certainly sting in the moment, I’ve seen again and again how they serve me in the long run. 

There’s something special, sacred even, about close female friendships. They can feel like a chosen sisterhood. The bonds can be as strong as those with our romantic partners. Sometimes even stronger, in fact. And so when they break, naturally, we suffer. At least for a while. But one thing I’ve seen time and time again is when one friendship door closes, another one opens up, and wide.  

There’s a quote from an Indian philosopher I’ve studied with, Swami A. Parthasarathy. It goes something like this: “what seems like poison at first turns into nectar in the end.” We can look at this as meaning that hard, painful things often turn out to be the best things for us. 

How can we make this so? By looking for the opportunities around us. By using painful experiences to increase our self-awareness and making intelligent, discerning choices about what to do next. 

This idea can apply to a situation facing a number of my clients right now, kids going off to school, rendering them “empty nesters.” It can be an opportunity to introspect, reflect, and ask yourself “what do I want to do now?”

Here’s an interesting fact about our brains: when we ask them a question, they cannot help but seek an answer. So ask yourself questions, even if they feel hard and unknown. And then get quiet and simply listen.

Real Coaching Results:

A long-term client of mine reflected in a recent session about his progress with the goals we set for his business and his personal life at the beginning of the year. His progress in every single bucket he identified as wanting to work on is pretty mind-blowing. As he assessed various metrics (projects completed, books read, money made), he was shocked. In a good way. It’s so important to not only set goals for ourselves, but to assess them. Sometimes, we’re troubleshooting and adjusting. And sometimes, we’re plain old celebrating. Don’t forget to sit back and take stock of how far you’ve come.

Book Recommendation:

I’m a long time Malcolm Gladwell fan and I just finished his Talking to Strangers. It’s a fantastic read for anyone looking to gain insights into the human psyche in general, and in particular how and why we are not very good at assessing other people’s motives and honesty. Put it on your list.  

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