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Category Archive for 'Overcoming Despair'

Published! A story I wrote about my personal experience with cancer was published in a cancer newsletter, What Makes You Stronger. The full version is below for your eyes only:

I remember it well. It was the 10th day of work at my new job at one of the US’ top 10, fast-paced public relations agency. It was late Friday afternoon. I was engrossed in developing a new business proposal when the phone rang. The voice was that of my breast specialist.

“Sharon, I didn’t want to let the weekend come without calling you first,” she said. “The core biopsy shows that you have cancer. My advice is for us to remove the tumor as soon as possible.”

That fateful day. That fateful phone call. I was 33. I had breast cancer.

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In 2005, Alicia Parlette, a copy editor who had just started her career at the San Francisco Chronicle, was diagnosed with a rare form of incurable cancer at age 23. Some people might have chosen to deal with a cancer diagnosis and treatment privately, but from those early days of testing and diagnosis, Alicia had an opportunity to write about her experiences. She embraced that opportunity fully, and as a result, touched thousands upon thousands of lives.

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This is a guest post by Jarie Bolander, Author of Frustration Free Technical Management.

Innovation and creativity are wrought with setbacks, stumbles and failure. All creative endeavors have that one point where all you want to do is stop. Stop working. Stop thinking. Stop worrying about the project. This place comes by many names – the wall, the edge or the brink….

Teetering on the Edge

The brink is that defining moment where all hope is lost. Whatever you are working on is just not converging. It’s the point of exhaustion where going on seems impossible. This spot is the single most frustrating point in your life where you question everything. It’s a nasty cocktail of melancholy mixed with terror that feels like your whole world is collapsing in on itself. At this point, where all hope, dreams, desires and ego are on the brink of collapse, will be your most creative moment if you let it…

Embracing the Brink

Creative people need to embrace the brink and the defining moments it creates. The clarity that brink moments can bring is truly astonishing. The brink is the culmination of your creative process. It’s that last little push to finish your blog post, the marathon session to release your software or the one defining experiment that proves your invention. When you feel yourself teetering on the brink, wanting to give up, try these techniques to push past it:

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his is a guest post by Chade-Meng Tan, Jolly Good Fellow (kid you not, this is his official title) at Google Inc.

Over the years, I’ve developed a 4-step plan to deal with my distress. I hope this would be helpful to you too.

My 4 steps are:
1. Know when you’re not in pain.
2. Do not feel bad about feeling bad.
3. Do not feed the monsters.
4. Start every thought with kindness and humor.

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I have heard much about Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in prison and his eventual release and election as South Africa’s first president in a representative democratic election. But I didn’t know how he survive those long, drawn-out years in a tiny prison cell on Robben Island, until I saw the movie Invictus.

In a conversation on the big screen with Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon, the captain of South Africa’s rugby team), Mandela (Morgan Freeman) shared with Pienaar that during his darkest moments in prison, his spirit was lifted and sustained by the poem Invictus (below) by William Ernest Henley, and that he would not have made it through prison if not for the words of this English poet who lived from 1849 to 1903.

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There are untold sufferers and suffering amongst us. Just two days ago, our nation remembered and mourned those who lost their lives during the September 11 attacks. All of us, at some time or other, would come face-to-face with pain, illness and death (ours or our loved ones).

Sometimes, in our despair, we may ask, “What is the point of all of this? What is the point of living?”

While we probably ask these questions at the lowest points of our lives, I believe that if we prod ourselves at these critical moments to find the answers to our questions, these low points could become the seeds toward a purposeful and meaningful life.

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