On September 11, 2001, I addressed the World Airline Entertainment Association—at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
The topic: ‘Change is Inevitable.-Learning from change is optional’.
Only a few hours later, you can imagine the mood among the 1600 delegates from around the globe.
I wondered then—as I do twenty years after—what we have learned?
I felt sickened by global events-and bronchitis–when a friend phoned to say her mother had died of cancer. Certainly, she shared compassion with thousands of people on the other side of the world, but the loss of one life weighed far heavier on her mind. To her, talk of the ‘world changing’ was more than a media cliché – the world always changes – but her own life had tumbled and changed irrevocably with the death of the one person who had always been central to her world.
As I sat despondently in the Qantas lounge at Brisbane airport, I couldn’t help but think that, undoubtedly, global tragedy impacts on us all in various ways, from the personal to the economic. Yet, ultimately, the everyday, non-publicized tragedies cause the greatest grief, wherever we live.
My thoughts were interrupted when a vibrant young woman introduced herself and said she had been inspired by one of my presentations, had since been promoted to London and took only six books, including a previous one I’d written.
‘Whenever I’m feeling down, I delve into that book and magically find just the right words of inspiration and encouragement,’ she enthused.
‘Oh, what chapter was that? I could do with a little inspiration myself at the moment!’ I shrugged before almost smiling at the irony.
And frantically continued scribbling a letter to my friend whose mother had died; because people often ask how I coped when my folks died when I was 21? Within weeks, that letter had morphed into a little book ‘Hope Happens!-words of encouragement for tough times.’
Much to my surprise, it became a best seller and the following year I delivered copies to first responders in New York. Nineteen years later, in 2020, I offered it as a free e-book to help with the shock of Covid-19, when I sensed comparable community despair.
Response was overwhelming. A surprise email from a charity notified me that a young Muslim male flight attendant, nearly a total stranger I’d met on a plane four years earlier, downloaded Hope Happens. He noticed the royalties go to cancer research−and despite the fact that his own airlines job was at risk, took time to generously make a donation from Abu Dhabi to the NSW Cancer Council in my name.
This shows our shared humanity; reduced me to tears; reminded me why I write. Let’s be frank. 9/11 was indeed a time when many feared all young Muslim men due to atrocities of a few.
So too, during the threat of a pandemic years later, innocent Chinese citizens were type cast as virus villains. The zeitgeist of both events rocked our reality. No matter how history would ultimately measure the impacts of Covid19 and 9/11, nines and ones added up to terror−real or perceived−of visible and invisible enemies from afar.
But, today, and every day, we need to keep our plans and dreams alive and must not be swamped by nightmares of negativity and despair. Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow….Hope helps us cope with tough times.
H elp… others-and never be too proud to ask for help yourself.
O ptimize…opportunities. In every business or personal problem, there is always an opportunity so remain optimistic.
P ersist…no matter what. Tough times don’t last so never give up-in order to move from a victim of change to a victor of change.
E mpower…others and give yourself permission to be empowered to take time out for yourself, as you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.
Keep hope happening!