A few weeks ago in France, there was a huge hurricane. It happens once in a blue moon. But the winds sweep through and we all just sit tight until its over. And when the wind finally subsides, we creep out of our houses to assess the damage.
This last storm wasn’t anywhere as destructive as the famous storm of December 1999 which ripped off roofs and downed chimneys. But this time, when I ventured out of my house, I was heartbroken to discover that my favorite tree—a majestic old pine- had simply fallen down.
I sat and stared. And I wept.
We all have landmarks in our lives. We learn to love them, we lean on them, they provide us with comfort. And when they disappear, we mourn them, realizing that it in some small way our lives will never be the same again. I know this was just a tree. But for me it had been a daily reassuring site and a place of memories.
One thing that is crystal clear to me when I speak to my friends and colleagues around the world, is that I am not alone. For so many, the old landmarks are gone. So much has changed. For so many of us, our belief in basic institutions like banks and governments and corporations have been left in tatters. I know so many people in their 40s and 50s who have been rudely awakened in recent years, realizing that even though they played by the rules, they have lost out. The old landmarks just didn’t live up their promises whether in the form of ruthless employers, inadequate medical plans or the obscenity of greedy bankers who behind our backs had been busy playing Russian roulette with our money-our retirement funds, our mortgages, our savings and our hopes for a secure future.
But as a half-glass full person, I believe that where there is disappointment, there is always opportunity. So, where my lovely old pine used to stand, I have now created a brand new vegetable garden which in a few months will yield lovely fruits and vegetables for my family and neighbors to enjoy.
Loss means opportunity. And today, despite the wreckage, I firmly believe there is more opportunity than ever before for people to re-create their lives. Social media , to my mind, is a vegetable garden with no limits. In it you can share your passions, your areas of expertise and create vibrant communities—a launching pad for new businesses, new ideas, new products and services.
I am convinced with every end comes a new beginning. And with today’s Social Web, you don’t have to look hard to usher in a new definition, a new life, a new business that will replace the old ways of doing things that –when all is said and done—may not have been giving you the life you really wanted after all.