“Offenses will come”. There are life circumstances so difficult that your practice, marriage and even very existence will be at risk. Life throws curve balls just when you’re hitting fastballs out of the park.

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How do you survive when your world is collapsing? How does your profession, any profession, overcome the impossible? Is it worth it?  

Six and a half years ago an avalanche of pain and despair invaded my wonderful life. I couldn’t fix it and even today, it is gone unrepaired. My wife, Carol, received a call from a frantic teenager. She was using our daughter’s cell phone to tell us that Kristin, our 19-year-old daughter, was on her way to an emergency room. She was unconscious and unresponsive. Kristin was driving, with her friend from a dinner party when she mentioned that her face was numb. She started driving erratically and her friend implored her to pull over. Kristen managed to stop the truck, grabbing the door latch and falling out of the truck into the highway. A passerby helped Kristin’s friend get her off the road then called 911.

The paramedics were transporting Kristin when her friend made the call to Carol. Family arrived, almost simultaneously, at the emergency room to discover that Kristin had a brain hemorrhage. An arterio-venous malformation in her brain had caused an aneurysm and the artery wall couldn’t hold the pressure.

After surgery, and three days of agonizing despair, the neurosurgeon informed our family that there was no hope of recovery. She died that night. With her death came emotions that I am not able to describe. I’ve attempted, many times, to describe  the difficult life experience associated with losing a child. I have failed miserably to accurately communicate how it affects a parent.

During and after the funeral, the shock of the event allowed Carol and I to remain calm, and collected. We had things to be done. The passage of time brought reality. She wasn’t coming back. Our other children were willing to help. In looking back, we did a poor job of actually helping them as they were helping us. Only days, perhaps weeks had passed and we realized that we were actually quite dysfunctional. Achievement requires motivation. Our motivation was sabotaged. When your day begins with a decision on getting out of bed, the rest of the day doesn’t go so well.

It would take much more room than I have here to describe what has happened over the last six years that have been serious roadblocks to recovering function and ultimately, real achievement in my work. Carol and I now walk with an emotional and even spiritual limp, but we walk and even run at times. It’s not smooth or even pretty at times, but we’re quite functional. We had to function in short bursts.

Fighter (Image: Thinkstock)

We had to learn how to task for short periods of time. I no longer had long-term goals. Sometimes my long-term goals were one hour. Sometimes we had to make it through the next few minutes; a few more and on, and on. A former divorce did not affect me like this. Financial collapse did not affect me like this. A handicapped older child did not affect me like this.

This event brought me to the point of surrender. I couldn’t fix it and move on. I could only live with it and keep moving. Yes, I gained weight. Yes, I became short tempered. Yes, I became intolerant. However, Carol and I are still very happily married and best friends. All the kids and grandkids are well financially and physically. Our businesses are thriving. Our faith is strong. Our relationships with other people almost all survived.

If something major has happened to you and you’re struggling in confusion and difficulty, it is survivable. You can do this. It is likely that a series of events or even one major event will affect your ability to perform. You’re either going through extreme difficulty, will go through extreme difficulty, or have gone through extreme difficulty. You must still function. You must still plod forward.

Narrow your field of view so you can remain focused on the important issues. Block out distractions generated by people, circumstances and events. Other people are usually the source of roadblocks to continuing achievement, so you may have to avoid a few of them.

You still have to prospect for your practice. You still have to sell and deliver great products. You can shorten goals to weeks, days, hours, or even minutes. You can still have great relationships with the ones you love and achieve wonderful things in your work. You can overcome depression, if not get rid of it. You can overcome financial pressures, relationship pressures, physical difficulties, failures, and almost anything with a strong faith and an understanding that the future is still bright.

Life events are not always financial. However they can add financial stress to the equation. Many of them can’t be avoided. Self-employment requires self-motivation and that’s extremely difficult to maintain when your mind is invaded with worrisome distractions. The people you love are depending on you. It’s lonely and nobody understands, but they don’t have to understand. You’ve heard stories about strong people surviving huge setbacks. How do normal, every day people get through it all? With a quiet determination that they will not be defeated.

Since prospecting is an activity, it requires a clear and motivated state of mind, or it requires a determined spirit. A determined spirit will do if that’s all you can muster.

— Read Do Your Prospects Respect You? on ThinkAdvisor.