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Through the Storm: The Thin Line Between Breakdown and Breakthrough



So many motivational speakers start off with the phrase, "I had to hit rock bottom before I...". The stories that follow that phrase motivate us to become better human beings and help us realize that we can accomplish the impossible if we put our minds to it. So many successful marriages have reached a point where neither one thought they would make it. Some of the greatest expert marriage couples teaching on successful marriage have actually been on the brink of divorce. 


A great friend of mine, Dr. Ted Wiard, said that we have two options when we reach a point of breakdown. He said, "We can either rise from the stones like a Phoenix, or become burnt chicken." I love the way he said that, and it made me laugh so he got a few extra points. The line between breakdown and breakthrough is so faint - often times invisible until we have subliminally made a choice to either breakdown or breakthrough. Recently, after a few extremely difficult storms, I reached the point of breakdown. I was depressed, stuck, and ready to just throw in the towel on everything. I had received the news that three close friends of mine whom I served with in Iraq and Afghanistan had committed suicide. To put even more icing on the cake, my grandfather passed away on Good Friday. I was done, and rightfully so. I was broken down in every sense of the phrase. 


But... That's not where the story ends. Hell, that's not even where it begins. I have chosen to walk down the road of breakthrough; of learning and of progress. It sucks, but that's my choice. We have all reached a point in our lives where we want to quit - where giving up is the easiest and most comfortable answer. As I hit the crossroads of breakdown or breakthrough my entire being wanted to head down the comfortable road of giving up, but I realized that while the roads are completely different, the final destinations are also completely different. 


The road that leads to giving up or breaking down is a circular one. It's flat, paved, sunny, and filled with friendly faces. The road that leads to progress and learning is uphill, often raining, and lonely because nobody wants to choose this road. If we just look at the road on which we travel, the choice is easy. Take the easy road. However, the road to giving up is circular because you will end up right where you started in the end, it's paved because it's been travelled by so many people before you, sunny because comfort never leads to progress, and empty because it's easy.


The road to breakthrough is uphill because it leads to the top, it's raining because achievement is never easy, and it's lonely because most people choose the easy road. Now, as you walk down this road, you will need to invite others to walk with you. You need support and pacers to keep you on track. You need to push yourself outside of every comfort zone you've ever put yourself in. But... Eventually the road starts to flatten out, the rain begins to stop, and you find yourself in an open pasture with the herd with which you braved this storm. You take a look down the mountain and see the circular path that you could have chosen and it's filled with those who continue to stay circular and not vertical, but you chose breakthrough!


Now, I'm not saying that any of this is easy. It's absolutely not. Even the first step of making the decision to breakthrough is likely the most difficult. But I promise you that it will lead to a better career, better marriage, better mental state, better physical state, and overall, a better life. 


If you are facing that breakdown point, I sympathize with you. We have all been there and, to be very honest, I've personally chosen the road of giving up many times. The good thing is that road is a circle, which means you are always given a change to leave that road and choose differently. 


Moving through the storm of breakthrough is not easy. Pick your herd wisely and lean on them when it gets tough, because it will get tough. Take the first step toward breakthrough. It's the hardest one to take, but that means it only gets easier as you travel.

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