I was in the ladies room when I ran into a good-friend-of-a-good-friend. We were thrilled to see each other. “I didn’t know you’d be here!” I said as we hugged.
“Well how often do you come to this city to speak?! I wouldn’t miss it!” she replied.
We caught up quickly on our kids and men and careers. It was slightly rushed because I was about to go on stage to speak.
That last time I’d seen her, she and her husband were handing me a large check as an investment into my old company. Like everyone who invested in the business — from family to Venture Capitalists — they had high hopes for success that we’d all profit from. The business went sideways. When I sent out an email to my circle of friends/investors that it was game over — the company was failing fast — I guarded myself for critical responses. My business savvy friends consoled me: People don’t invest unless they can afford to lose. Everyone here is a grown up. You can move on. Still, I had to wipe the tears off of my keyboard when I pressed send on that email.
Back to the ladies rooms in a snowy city five minutes before curtain call…
“You know I just want to tell you how happy I am for all of your success,” she said. The air got quiet, I knew something else was coming and for a nanosecond I wondered if this would be the time she rightfully gave me a verbal plow for that um, old business ordeal. Instead, this: “Your success now affirms that we were right to invest. It feels so good to know that.”
“I…I…You’re incredible. Thank you. My God…I mean…sorry it didn’t work out…wow…thank you. You’re…wow.” I was so moved. And impressed.
“Oh it’s not about the money,” she said. “It’s just a great affirmation that our instincts were good. The timing wasn’t right, but our hearts were.”
Thankfully I had a crowd waiting, because I could have wept then and there. I bit my lip to distract myself from crying. We hugged. I went off to do my thing and on the plane ride home, I surmised that that was one of the most beautiful acts of grace I’d ever been on the receiving end of.
Loss brings out our truest self.
And while natural grace doesn’t come naturally to all of us —
especially when we lose — it can be cultivated…
if you go out of your way to be grateful.