Stop asking ‘Why?’- Start asking ‘Why not?’

We all ask, “Why me?” when things get tricky. The question represents our attempt to make sense of some of life’s crazy situations. This powerful question is often impossible to answer when facing some of the most difficult challenges in life. 

But there’s a more important question to ask than “Why me?” when obstacles block your path in life. Obstacles force us to take a different, unexpected path toward accomplishing a goal. Sometimes barriers force us to chart a path that has never existed. These exciting journeys in life only happen to people with the courage to ask a better question… “Why not me?”

I’ve had the privilege of watching Scott and Tiffany Smiley’s journey for almost 20 years. I respect and admire so much about this couple that I don’t have time to list it all here. They charted a course in the US Military that had never been taken before.

It all started when Tiffany asked, “Why not?” about Scott’s future in the US Army. We can all learn three lessons from Scott and Tiffany Smiley’s journey after she asked, “Why not?” in an impossible situation. 

Complaining won’t change your life

Scott lost sight in both eyes after a suicide bomber blew himself up in Scott’s face while serving as a Platoon Leader in Iraq. Most of us will never be able to imagine the instant change this had on Scott’s life. Losing your eyesight is a tragedy, but for a strong and talented leader in the US Army like Scott, this was far worse than death.

Tiffany, a trained nurse, showed up by his side while he was being treated for his war injuries in a military hospital. It’s natural at this point for any military family to wallow in self-pity after a life-changing injury like this. Honestly, you’d probably sit around asking, “Why me?” if you lost your eyesight through no fault of your own.

We all know serial complainers. They’re the kind of people that focus on the negative and point out all the moments in life that didn’t go as planned. It would’ve been natural for Scott and Tiffany to take this path after these war wounds totally blinded him.

But rather than complaining about their new lot in life- Tiffany decided to make something beautiful out of it. And what happens next is history.

Do you see obstacles or opportunities?

When tragedy strikes, you can complain and resign your fate… or face it head-on. At this point, Scott and Tiffany Smiley’s story becomes a powerful lesson to all of us. Rather than surrendering their fate to circumstances out of their control, they decided to turn this tragedy into an opportunity.  

The medical doctors handed Tiffany paperwork that required immediate attention while her husband was still lying on a hospital bed. As his wife, she had the legal authority to decide about his treatment while recovering from his war wounds. Scott’s medical team asked Tiffany to transfer his treatment to the care of the US Veterans Administration.  

When everyone before her only saw obstacles, Tiffany saw an opportunity. Never had someone totally blinded continued their service in the US Military. This was an impossibility. Anyone else in Tiffany’s situation would have seen medical retirement as the only option. It would be impossible for Scott to remain in the military blind when Tiffany dared to ask, “Why not?”

Try to see the opportunities while you’re facing the obstacles of life.

Comfort never leads to greatness

There’s no way to exaggerate the challenges this would put on a warrior and his family. Virtually nothing in the US Military accommodates the blind. Why should it when no one has ever served in the military in these conditions? Life would have been much more comfortable if Scott and Tiffany had taken the medical retirement and Veteran care. But this courageous military family chose greatness rather than comfort. 

The path to greatness is never crowded.

In fact, like Scott and Tiffany Smiley, you often must forge a trail where none exists to achieve greatness. If you’re facing significant obstacles, don’t waste your time complaining. It might make others feel sorry for you, but complaining will never lead to greatness.

When other people around you ask, “Why me?” because all they can see are the obstacles in front of them, try looking for new opportunities by asking, “Why not me?”  The answer to that question might change your life and inspire millions like Scott and Tiffany Smiley.

Listen to my whole interview with Scott and Tiffany HERE

Further reading

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