“Misfortune is a stepping stone for genius”

Honoré de Balzac

Let me tell you a story. A friend of mine, a successful CPA at a top audit firm had it all: a great career, a pretty girlfriend and a fancy house in San Francisco. One day, he decided to move it to a new level and invited the girlfriend to spend a romantic vacation in Italy planning to pop the question there. What happened next was beyond his wildest imagination.

The trip went not according to his plan: the couple started fighting even before they landed in Italy, and the next day, the girlfriend called him an asshole and flew back to the US. The engagement plans were off. He didn’t want to spend the rest of the vacation in the lonely villa and decided to go somewhere he had never been before. The next day, he was in Croatia. The country was peaceful, and the restaurant he stopped at for a nice dinner with live music was very cozy – just what he was looking for. He enjoyed the meal until the moment the waiter brought the check. Suddenly, he realized that he was missing his wallet. The documents, credit cards and cash – everything was gone.

This story could end up badly. But my friend convinced the restaurant owner not to call the police. Instead, he made him an offer: he would stay at the restaurant and work as long as it would take to pay the bill. Of course, considering the wages in Croatia, it took him a while. He lived in the restaurant’s kitchen, helped cooking, cleaning and waiting the tables. To his surprise, he really enjoyed his time there.

After returning to the US, he quit his safe, high-paying accounting job and used the savings to open a restaurant. It happened several years ago. Now, he is an owner of several successful businesses. That experience completely changed his life pushing him out of his comfort zone into the world of new opportunities.

Here is the reason I thought about this story. Last May, I attended Accelerate Your Biz event hosted by the Entrepreneur magazine. Imagine my surprise when the speaker, Jon Levy, asked the audience to choose among 3 options:

  • You will go to Romania,
  • You will go to Croatia, and your wallet will be stolen,
  • You will go to Croatia and will have a nice dinner.

You can guess which choice I made. Everybody else preferred the options that could easily be bought for cash. I’ve gone for an unconventional experience because I believe that extraordinary circumstances create exceptional opportunities.

Think about it: how many fantastic ventures have started from a misfortune? Getting laid off, losing your money due to a nasty divorce or a bad judgment, caring for a loved one with a life-threatening disease – all of these cases can drastically change your destiny. Most people would feel depressed. They would continue the rat race, desperately hoping for a magic to happen because they are too afraid to look stupid or be rejected trying something new.

But if you refuse to be a victim and ready to dig your way out of the dark tunnel, you have a chance to create the life full of exciting adventures, the life you choose. Don’t be afraid to dream big. It’s up to you to make it a reality.

The article was first published on The Huffington Post