"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
I need you to know that what you're about to read is the documentation of a journey of self-discovery that I embarked on without any planning. In fact, I did not recognize that I was on that journey until I was deep into it. In fact, as I'm writing these words, I have an emotional overflow – I don't know why. I have tears in my eyes, realizing how profound that journey was and still is. My tears are not of sadness but of awe from realizing the difference between the person I was and the person I'm now. I think they're tears of relief, tears of how much pain I felt, and tears of reliving the waves of changes that impacted my life. I might also be feeling the huge weight of putting my feelings and deep emotions out there in the open for the public to read in this book.
I'm happy now, don't get me wrong. Ironically, in retrospect, I was convinced that I was also happy before that journey. What will interest, and I hope - will help you – is reading about how my journey evolved. It is a real person's account of rising above drastic changes. I am a person who shares a very similar background, values, beliefs, dreams, and aspirations as the majority of human beings. It is my account of how I handled disruptions that rocked the cornerstones of a stable, average and mostly happy life.
Anyone of you reading this book will relate to who I am. Most of you will see parallels and similarities between our lives. But none of you will have the same journey I'm having. Note: I say "I’m having” because the journey did not end yet. I’m in a stage now that is past all the turmoil and pain. In a stage of peace! Well, more about that later, but just remember when I started writing this book, I was in the middle of my journey.
This is unique because you’ll get a first-hand account of the evolution of my self- realization, almost step-by-step. You will notice differences in the depth of my writing and the profoundness of my thoughts, analyzing my deep feelings and reasons behind my reactions. I dislike many of my early writings of this book, but I chose to keep it to show you the progression and the evolution of my self- knowledge, which will help you with your own journey.
How would you rise above disruption?
It might sound simple, basic, or cliché. It is all about knowing yourself and getting to know your real self!
How would you know your real self? By trying to dig deeper and finding out which image of you are you trying to maintain, keep, or portray in front of yourself and the people around you.
Is it your or someone else’s image you’re trying to reflect? Are you in complete synchronicity between what you see, what you feel, what you think, and what you do? Is your heart, body, mind, spirit, and soul aligned? Are they turned to the same wave? No one is fully synchronized all the time, but for you to rise above disruptions and hardships, a minimum level of synchronicity is required. Let me be clear and honest. The only reason I found myself on this journey of self-discovery is the huge wake-up-call I got when my life turned upside down with no warnings. The five hardships that happened to me disrupted my world within weeks from each other. This set me off confused, hurt, and baffled on a quest to find my peace of mind. When the world came down on me, I started asking myself many questions: Why is all of this happening to me at once? Why what I’m feeling is not synchronized with what I’m thinking (I feel so much pain, yet my mind believes that it is so unfair what’s happening to me, yet it’s happening)? Why are my feelings not matching my thoughts, not matching my actions? The conclusion was, reaching a revelation that a minimum level of synchrony is needed between what I’m feeling, seeing, thinking, and doing. The bigger the gap between them, the longer the journey to rise above disruption, and the more pain endured until inner peace is realized.
Finding my synchronization is one of the most significant outcomes of my journey. In reality, the act of writing this book helped me articulate and surf through my journey. It was my way out to help me get aligned with my inner and outer self. It was my way out of disruption. Your way out of your traumas might be painting, singing, writing poetry, helping the homeless, teaching children, caring for the elderly, etc. It is yours and only yours!
For example, I started the book documenting my background and who I’m. My parents, family, friends, and career! In the early days, I was writing from the perfectionist point of view – a perfect family, a perfect childhood, perfect friends, and a perfect career. This was the way that I perceived myself back then (before my disruption journey), and what I wanted people to perceive as well. I realized the evolution of my self-understanding during the months of writing this book. I chose not to rewrite that part and opted to have you notice the progression of my self-realization. Later on, in the book, you’ll notice how I started to contradict my old self as I began to realize the reasons for pains generated from disruptions and changes.
When a person goes through major life changes, after the shock, grief, and self-petty, they reach a moment of truth when they ask why so and so is happening to them. For me to answer this question, I started to self-criticize and analyze, asking myself who I really am. I reevaluated my value and belief system. I looked at the way I perceived myself and pondered upon how others perceived me. A bit twisted, but your brain is really capable of much more complicated analysis. While analyzing, I reached the revelation of not being in synchronicity. All the time, I was trying to be a role model for everyone around me: the best dad, the best son, the best husband, the best boss, etc. It’s a human need to be in pursuit of perfection, wanting to be the best at anything and everything. Similarly, I was pursuing this ideal image, which I perceived of myself a long time ago. Reality is, it was only in “my head.” It was not real. I was far from being perfect, far from fitting my ideal self. I did not face myself directly to fix it. I became an expert in finding convincing excuses for myself to justify why I fell short of reaching my ideal. It was always someone else, economy, business environment -you name it. I was like the ostrich, wanted to look my best — which I wasn’t — and stuck my head in the ground to avoid seeing the gaps between reality and my perception.
Once I reached this knowledge, I started to go back and question everything about my life: values, belief system, parents, upbringing, relationships with friends and family, career, and marriage. Being the pragmatic, logical, calculating, and politically correct self as far back as I remember, I had to set aside my brain and give more room to my heart and emotions. In doing so, it was unavoidable to revisit old emotions, wounds, feelings, and experiences. I began to really know what makes me happy, sad, or satisfied, and then I started to write this book. Once I began to be at peace with myself of my deficiencies and accepted that I have flows because I’m human, it all became simple. I had to get grounded, and I realized that writing about all this was the best way to get grounded. It gave me space while writing; I started reading what I am writing. While reading it time after time, I realized that I’m a human being with flaws and that I’m far away from being perfect. I’m giving you a guideline that you can follow, something you can feel and do to get over your own disruption. This would afterward become your own way of rising above your disruptions.
My life was disrupted five times in a span of two years. One disruption followed by the next, from my business shutting down and erosion of life savings, to the spiral sickness of my mother, to the loss of my house, to divorce, and ending with being diagnosed with cancer. Yes, I had to deal with these five traumas almost simultaneously. One of these traumas is tough enough to put a person down, imagine having five! I did it, so can you. My path might be different than yours, but in the end, you will survive. Trust in that.
Who am I?
My name is Khaled Khorshid, also known to my friends and family as KK. I was born in Cairo, Egypt, in a typical middle-class family. There was nothing special or rather unusual about my childhood. My father was one of the early computer engineers in his generation. Following his career, we moved to the United States in the late 1980s. I spent most of the 1st half of my life between Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. My father was an engineer, and traveling was a part of his job. Fortunately, he took us along whenever he could, which is why I had visited over ten countries before reaching adulthood. The exposure to different cultures, backgrounds, and geographies shaped my personality and character early on in life. Diversity is part of my DNA and is the key success factor of any country, company, or institution.
They say, like father like son, so when it was time to choose what to study in college, I looked no further than my dad’s profession. I grew up playing with the early version of the personal computers and felt at ease navigating and programing them. After completing the degree, I got recruited by a well-reputed consulting firm. Life was very kind to me as it landed me in my dream job.
Everything was normal, and life was defying its principle of contradicting linearity. My career seemed to be on track. The line on the graph of my growth was elevating at a satisfactory pace. Life continued being generous, and in that regard still is, helping me find a wife with whom I had two adorable children. By 2000, my career took another swift turn, and I found growing career opportunities in the rapidly growing telecommunication sector in Africa. I was contented with life and everything in it. Luck was always on my side, as without it, I would never have been that successful early in my career. Luck has its own way of functioning; it brings you in the right place at the right time.
Today, I teach Digital Strategy in a reputable university, and I advise companies on change and business transformation. Speaking of change, I found the popular interpretation of this word to be ‘fear.’ Now, why does fear come to our mind when we hear the word? Is it because we discourage any emotion or activity that is dissimilar to our existing trail of habits or routines? Or is it because we fear change might make things worse, instead of making them any better. No matter what the reason is, change and fear should always be considered separate realities. For many people, the change could be an exciting endeavor. It’s not something you are immune to and so better come in terms with instead of showing any resistance. I’ll try to show you a different perspective on looking and dealing with change using examples from my own journey.
As human beings, we’re programmed to be a certain way; we have belief systems that aren’t necessarily the same but are undoubtedly strong. My journey in life was interrupted and, indeed, disrupted. I am pretty sure you have experienced disruptions in your journey as well. Let me tell you; you are not alone.
Little did I know, my life was going to change in a way that I’d never expected. I hit rock bottom. I experienced family trauma, medical illnesses known to break you in every aspect, and a few other setbacks. You’ll read about all of it in the coming chapters, but I want you to know before you read any further, that my present is the product of a tense past. What kept me going through all of this was optimism, and a keen understanding of life.