#AgilityIs: Adapting

Could the worst day of your life be an opportunity in disguise?

by Robin Dalmas

Sudden life changes can be tragic and devastating. But sometimes, those random events can be opportunities in disguise.

Chris Gardner, the former CEO of his own stock brokerage firm and author of “The Pursuit of Happyness,” lost the love of his life to brain cancer in 2012. Her name was Holly Ann Norwick.

“Some of the last conversations that Holly and I were having was her asking me, now that we can see how truly short life can be, what are you going to do with the rest of your life? Now, that’s not just a rhetorical question at that point.”

The day after Holly passed away, Gardner walked away from his job on Wall Street. He eventually took on a new role, one he calls “CEO of Happyness.” He now focuses on speaking engagements and media projects to help people achieve their potential.

“What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” Gardner asked. “If you’re doing something that you’re not truly passionate about, you’re compromising yourself every single day,” Gardner said.

Gardner is not the only entrepreneur to turn a devastating life event into a fresh start.

When Detroit resident Chris Casteel lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in 1988, he had to adapt to life with a prosthetic leg and learn how to walk again. He became an advocate for other people who had lost limbs, counseling them through the emotional turmoil of healing from disease and injury and helping them adjust to life with an artificial limb.

These days, you can see Casteel ziplining, kayaking, and riding his bike for fun. And he’s the co-owner of Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthotics, the company he launched in 2011. He uses the counseling skills he learned as a new amputee to help his patients start life over.

See how Casteel turned a personal catastrophe into an opportunity to help others in Anew Life: Giving amputees the gift of hope.

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