John Lloyd is a popular TV and Radio figure in Britain. Whatever he touched turned into gold. He was an idea machine. He was the brain behind popular British TV programs like Not the Nine O'Clock News, Spitting Image, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Blackadder, QI and The Museum of Curiosity. The who’s who of the industry lined up to work with him. He had fame. Name. Fortune. To the outside world, it seemed like he was the perfect template of success.
Perception often deceives realty. In spite of achieving tremendous success, John Lloyd lived a life of constant struggle consisting of fallouts and multiple sackings. He became depressed wondering why he was kicked out from the projects which were his creations. Why people who wanted to work with him once, would no more want to be anywhere near him. These led to depression. Until one day he realised that, what seemed like disaster each time was actually an opportunity gift wrapped.
He realised disaster was his weapon of success
He wouldn’t have tried so many things if he hadn’t been fired so many times. If everything was smooth he’d have just stayed where he was. But each time he was forced to leave, it meant he was forced to start something new again.
So each time disaster turned out to be an opportunity gift wrapped. This is the John Lloyd story.
This is the longest prelude I have ever written for any story. This story is not about the wonderful places that I have travelled to but it is about the struggles that have led to them. I might not have achieved even 0.0000001% of what John achieved but every disaster turned out to be an opportunity gift wrapped for me as well.
2012 was a year of crisis. I felt everything that I worked towards was crashing. I was broke - mentally, physically and financially. I was inside a perfect disaster. As with every disaster, it presented an opportunity in the form of a solo Euro trip. My family pushed me to explore life leaving behind my baggage ala Kangana’s ‘Queen’ style. (Before your wild horses run loose let me tell you I wasn't left at the altar.) So here I was in a foreign land with foreign people with no perceived security and familiarity. I was completely vulnerable. I was both shy as well as scared to approach strangers. I was scared about being judged. I was scared that people might take advantage of me. I was scared but was determined not to let this get in the way of realising a dream. I realised that the demons were not in others but in my own head. The strangers were far more welcoming and caring than even friends were. I was accepted with open arms.
This solo trip turned out to be a turning point in my life. Though I was a travel buff from childhood but this trip became the foundation of my unshakable confidence to do whatever I wanted to do in life without fearing for results.
Another Disaster that turned out to be an opportunity gift wrapped was my solo trip to Ladakh in 2014. Like many others, I too was enamoured by Ladakh (And no, Three Idiots didn’t put it in my bucket list). After many failed attempts year after year, I decided 2014 has to be the year of Ladakh, irrespective of whether I go with friends or strangers. I had not traveled solo before in India (for obvious reasons). So I searched and searched online until I found a group which fitted my budget and where I knew the organiser. The organiser made me a part of a group of seven people who were to travel by two motorbikes and one SUV. Sounded like a perfect adventure that I was so looking forward to.
However, when God has a bigger and better plan for you then smaller plan falls out-of-place. Out of the seven people, everyone backed out at the last moment. And the best part was, I wasn’t even informed about the same until the last-minute. Suddenly reality struck me. I was scammed. I had already paid the advance. I was told since most people backed out, it was not financially feasible for the company to organise this trip solely for me. And as an option they offered me a travel package to Chandrataal with another group. I was furious but did not lose my cool. I had three options - either join another group to Chandrataal or go back to Delhi or stick to the original plan even if there was no plan. No prize for guessing what I chose.
Every dark cloud has a silver lining. And this travel became one of the most cherished travel of my life. I saw Ladakh in a new light - from a Local’s vision. I made friends for life. I was invited to local festivals and marriages. I bonded with the locals at a deeper level. Never ever did anyone try to take advantage of me. In fact, they went out of their way to help me out. And a bond for life was made. A bond that cannot be explained in words.
I was so overwhelmed with this experience that I felt compelled to share this experience with others. Not that I wanted to tom-tom about my trip but in a world full of hate and selfishness this was a story of human compassion. This was a story of hope. This was a story of convictions winning over doubts. This was an opportunity winning over a disaster. This became another turning point in my life. The idea of Travel See Write was born. I started documenting and sharing my travel experiences with people. If this disaster had not happened I would have never got into travel blogging. You can read my entire Ladakh story here: 11 days in leh ladakh - 11 faces of beauty
Let me confess something. Before this trip, I always thought I was not creative and probably a very lousy writer. Someone who could just write campaign briefs and brand strategies but not get into writing. People remember stories not words. And that’s probably the reason why most successful people are great storytellers. Richard Branson, Obama, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Rihana are all storytellers first and later what their profession defines them. It is their art of storytelling that separates them from the rest. They mastered the art of successful storytelling - providing a glue that resonates with people and bonds them together.
Storytelling comes naturally when you have unshakable confidence in yourself and when you are not scared to face any disaster.
After all every disaster is an opportunity gift wrapped.
So go ahead and embrace the disaster.
I would love to hear how disaster turned into an opportunity for you.