A few months ago, my parents and I experienced a serious car accident at the start of what should have been a much-deserved vacation. Now, I realize that it bothered me much less than I thought it would have. Looking back at the last 2 years, I understand why.

In the best display of leading by example, my parents are enjoying their retirement in the tropical island of Mauritius. Meanwhile, I live and work in Belgium, so we haven’t had many occasions to see each other in the last few years. I was pumped not only to unwind for two weeks, but also to do cool island stuff, like boating, diving and fishing with my folks.

On the second day, after an afternoon in the lagoon, their car suffered a mechanical failure, and we ultimately crashed into a sturdy tree at roughly 50kph. My father and I were moderately wounded, however my mother suffered multiple broken vertebrae and a brain hemorrhage.

The aftermath was shocking. I can tell you holding my barely conscious mom, and trying to keep her awake in the back of a cop car redefined “adrenaline rush” for me. This was by far the worst feeling I had experienced.

Now, everybody’s fine, we all healed surprisingly quickly relative to each level of injury, and there’s no lasting damage. Strong family.

The car, on the other hand, didn’t do so well. We had it scrapped for parts.

A mashed car

The next few days were complicated logistically, between roundtrips to the hospital, tending wounds and accommodating other guests at the house. But here’s the thing, psychologically and emotionally, I was totally fine.

Deep down, I wasn’t for a second concerned about potential complications, or anything else really. I knew without hesitation my mother would pull through and we’d quickly be making super dark jokes about the event. Hell, I managed to keep my diet and sobriety plan going, and do some quality work to pass the time.

However, if this had happened one or two years ago, I know it would have completely crushed me.

A strong mindset is critical

What changed? How did I take this event with a bloody grin (literally), when not so long ago, I would have been K.O.ed by much smaller inconveniences?

Through building a business, and focusing every waking hour to creating stability around and inside me, I developed a mindset of strength and resilience. I learned to quiet loud emotions, to ignore things and circumstances I cannot control, and to see silver linings where I saw dark clouds.

My takeaway is that I still got to see my parents, and this brought us closer that we’ve ever been. Also they have a better car now.

If you are at any point of your life where you feel too much physically and mentally affected by the world, mindset is what you should focus on. Not money, not social life, not sex or love. Your mindset is the foundation of who you are, and how you interact with the world. Your entire reality is filtered through your mind.

Generally speaking, things started working well for me the minute I fixed my mindset.

Fixing your mindset is tough work

Mindset isn’t an overnight project. It takes weeks, even months, depending on where you’re at. You have to look the worst parts of yourself, the ones you’re ashamed of, the ones you’d rather forget, and take them head on.

Realize that what’s done is done. You cannot change the past, you can only learn lessons and prepare for the future.

In fixing your mindset, you end up defeating your worst enemy: yourself. No easy task.

Every mistake you forgive yourself for, every little switch towards a stronger mindset eventually compounds into big victories.

You don’t have to do it alone. Talk to friends and family, find mentors in your professional community. Watch similar journeys on YouTube, ask questions.

I’ve gone from second guessing everything to laughing at the face of death. But I’m not done. You’re never done. Mindset is a castle you rebuild every day, each time stronger than the last.

In time, you feel like taking more risks, going bolder in your career, aspiring to a better version of yourself. There’s no limit other than the ones you impose on yourself.

Mindset reading list

Below are books that have helped me tremendously. Rather than detailing steps and strategies, I’d encourage you to read those much comprehensive guides.

 

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