My bold attitude and wanting to be right had gotten me very far in life. I’d been embroiled in a long-playing lawsuit with a former employee, Lisa, and a photographer I’d had under contract. The two had begun their own business – and taken my billings with them.
By now, I’d invested a lot of money, and time, and grief and you name it into the proceedings. The court date was about to be set and the judge recommended arbitration as a last chance for us to resolve our differences.
The judge’s recommendation came at the precise moment when I had to consider filing bankruptcy. I owed a lot of money to banks and credit cards (like a lot of hopeful American businesspeople and consumers, I had taken advantage of all kinds of “do you need some extra cash?” offers). With an impending trial, the other party realized that the chances were good that I just might win and they decided that they wanted to settle the matter quickly.
By this time, I’d realized how much this battle had cost me already. I had lost myself, my sleep, and every cent that I could dig up. I was right, but it dawned on me that a hefty price was attached to it. You’ve heard the saying: would you rather be right or happy? For the longest time, I just wanted to be right.
When you get to that point of self-reflection, you think about what it was that you could have done instead. If I had channeled my energy into something positive, instead of fueling my anger, who knows what I could have accomplished in that one year?
But, after a lot of soul-searching I made my peace with this situation. I detached myself from the outcome – what would be, would be. I learned that you take the steps and let go of the rest. You have no control over it.
Besides, it was too late to quit. If I went down in flames, at least it would be have been worth it. Wouldn’t it? I let it go and gave it to the hands of the higher power.
It was going to be a tight decision. Legally. But personally, I had come out much further ahead. I’d learned by then that revenge and being right meant nothing. Nothing.
The destructive force of such negative energy is insurmountable. It suffocates everything. While it was a valuable experience—and I still like a good fight!—I don’t recommend that anyone do what I did I did.
During arbitration, I made one final demand, that I would be able to tell my story. I wanted to tell these two thieves how one bad decision they made jointly had ruined my business and, very likely, their own careers. I looked at my former employee and told her that my daughter would remember her as the one who taught her that you can’t trust people who “seem to be so nice.” When I saw tears welling up in her eyes, I knew my point was made and what she’d done no longer mattered. The photographer was a different story; he said that he did not want to return what he had taken because I had pissed him off. He needed to teach me a lesson. I knew then that he would betray Lisa the same way he betrayed me. It turns out that he did.
Leave it to karma and a higher power to take care of the black sheep among us. They’ll get it eventually, and it is better if you are not in the way when that shoe drops on them. And even then, it’s better not to have to worry about things you can’t control. I adjusted my attitude, and moved on.
After everything was settled, I paid off my legal fees and other debts and ended up with exactly nothing in my bank account – again. With my business wiped out, I had to start from zero all over again in 2002.
Starting from zero is never easy, whether it’s from business, a personal upheaval or a natural disaster. How did you face your biggest crisis? Tell me about your path to acceptance. I’d love to hear from you.