Shit Happens

January 06 2017

My letter of advice to my son when he went off to study at UC Berkeley, now becomes my advice to the world ...


Rus - I've always tried to teach you & your brothers that life is never fair. The secret of life that no one tells you is this. In life, shit happens. It just does. Nobody likes negativity, so nobody says it. But it's the truth.

When you head off to university - you will not always get into the program/class/lecture that you want. After that you will not get the ultimate, perfect job. You will sometimes get reprimanded by your bosses. Yes, your wife will be awesome, but she will fight with you. Sometimes, for no reason at all and then she may even blame you for the fight. Your colleagues at work will sometimes talk behind your back and try to sabotage your career. Or maybe it just seems that way to you. But regardless - shit happens. It always does. But the good news is that NONE of it matters. And it does not even matter whether the shit happens for a reason or not. Shit does not happen in order to make your life miserable - that is just a side-effect. But it will prepare you for even harder challenges in life - and that's also a side-effect.

Any problem, big or small, in any field, at any time always comes with a lesson. Every bad experience goes away trying to teach you something. As they say - whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. This is the proverbial silver lining on the dark cloud. It will always be up to you to rise above it all and find a solution. I have already seen you do it many times before today and I am confident you can repeat this. Indefinitely and forever. Try to make sure that any lesson or experience that came with the problem was absorbed, understood and saved for later. Assess the problem with a clear head, understand why it occurred, what (if anything) you could have done to avoid it and what you did to fix it. Once it is fixed, look back. Learn what you can take from it. Know how it impacted your life, whether temporarily or permanently? Understand if there was anything you could do to ensure that it does not happen again. If it does happen again, how can you tackle it better. Look into the details since all big issues are always made up of many smaller problems. If you can do all this and come out with a lesson learned then it has become a successful problem. Try to replace the word "problem" with the word "opportunity". You will have a learning opportunity or one to solve the problem permanently.

With this philosophy, every little problem will improve your life. A failed interview prepares you to ace the next one. A betrayal today will improve your ability to judge people tomorrow. A fight with your spouse today will help prevent the next one and may even lead to more love tomorrow. Try to make the most of each problem. Life is unfair and it will keep putting hurdles in your path. The best that you can do is avoid making the same mistake twice. Remember old mistakes and and try to identify new ones. This is the best way to bring the positives out of a bad situation. It works - always has and always will.

And even if all this fails and amounts to nothing - stand proud, dust yourself off, stick your chest out, look in the mirror and put a big grin on your face. Because, out there, somewhere, someone else is having an even more shit happening to them, right now :-)

Shit Happens. Get used to it. But remember - usually it happens for good, especially if you can learn something from it.

Shiraz Kanga
Foster City, CA
[email protected]

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