August 24


Is it happening TO you or FOR you?

I had the pleasure of meeting an outstanding motivational speaker from Australia several years ago. In addition to being an excellent speaker, I love that he is so down-to-earth. When you chat with him, he seems like just another regular guy. I also like his name – Bruce Sullivan.

He sends out his “irregular but regular” email posts. They are always thoughtful.

In this most recent email, he tells a story about a somewhat challenging day traveling. He points out that one simple word can totally change our perspective on any situation.

Happening TO YOU OR… Happening FOR YOU?

Travel is of course a regular part of my life. The Qantas Club in Sydney was packed to the brim. I really needed quiet time by myself but I needed to sit down even more so I grabbed the only remaining seat I could find… next to Charlie.

I greeted him with the usual courteous “G’day… How are you going mate?” The question is usually rhetorical to a stranger however it became immediately obvious that Charlie was up for a chat. He needed to. He had had a tough day and he needed to vent. “You wouldn’t believe what happened TO me today!”

He had endured much this day. It took him right up until my flight was called to recount each of the events that had happened TO him this particular day. As I prepared to leave for my flight Charlie asked me what I would have done if these things had happened TO me?

It was an unusual question to a stranger however it did give me permission to provide a response.

My parting comment was to consider how he might respond differently to his day if he believed that things don’t happen TO you but rather things happen FOR you.

When the hotel does not have your reservation it happened FOR you to revisit your hotel reservation practices to ensure you actually get what you need next time.

When the car hire company did not have your car ready and waiting because your credit card had expired it happened FOR you to consider what other companies you might need to advise of your new card details so as not to be inconvenienced again.

When your two year old throws up their breakfast down the back of your shirt it happened FOR you to remember that if you wrestle a two year old long enough right after they have eaten there is a good chance you will wear their meal!

When things happen TO you… you are the victim.

When things happen FOR you… you are the wiser. You give permission for learning to occur.

So… How was your day today? What happened FOR you today? 🙂


Bruce Fleck, PhD

About the Bruce Fleck, PhD

I help professionals overcome a health, career, or relationship crisis and make it a turning point for building a better life.

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