When one door closes … yeah you know that tune.
Have you hit a tough spot in your life?
Maybe you didn’t get that great job you applied for. You were the perfect fit, but someone else got the gig.
You had your eye on that special person for months, but it turns out they fancied one of your mates.
Maybe this is a simply a period in your life where it all feels like one big shit show.
Nothing seems to be going right. At least, nothing is going the way you want it to.
And then someone says, “When one door closes, another opens!”
You’re maybe not quite ready to hear it. Am I right?
The disappointment is still too raw. Optimistic philosophy won’t cut it. You want sympathy, some nice (or at least wet) wine and a couple of hours of hiding under the duvet.
You know it is well-meant. They are only encouraging you to keep trying. They don’t want you to give up.
But what if it is actually more than that?
Do you have a couple of minutes for a quick journey, starting with the invention of the telephone and ending in German-occupied Austria?
Let’s start with the origins of this phrase
This may surprise you, but Alexander Graham Bell, the Scottish inventor best known for perfecting communications technology in the form of the telephone, first uttered the words, “When one door closes, another opens.”
Or maybe, that doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that such an optimistic approach to failure would come from a leading scientist and entrepreneur.
In our modern-day appreciation of the tech entrepreneur, their success is only as ever as great as the mountain of failure and disillusionment they have had to overcome on their road to success.
When one door closes, open it again. That’s how doors work
Ok, maybe he invented the precursor to your new iPhone, but you have every right to refute Mr Bell. You’re still not ready to be all upbeat about your recent let-down? You want to give it another go?
Maybe you have heard this alternative phrase before. And that makes sense, right?
In a way, wasn’t Alexander Graham Bell probably knocking at the same old door to see if it would open before he successfully made the first ever telephone call on March 10th 1876 and uttered the famous words to his assistant, “Mr Watson. Come here I want to see you.”
Isn’t that what brings success? Assiduity. Not giving up when faced with defeat?
But actually Alexander Graham Bell’s comment has been edited over the years
Documented in the Winona Times in 1935, and after his death, his full phrase read,
“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
This makes for slightly different reading. It is less about abandoning what you aspired to as you were unable to get it.
It is more about where you place your focus.
We all tend to ruminate on the disappointments. It is part of what makes us human to feel emotion following a big disappointment.
But how long are you going to sit with that disappointment? How deep is that bottle of wine?
Because whilst you sit thinking about the past (again and again), looking fixatedly at that closed door, new opportunities pass you by.
When one door closes, a window opens
Remember Maria in the Sound of Music? She gave this idea a religious colouring when she said,
“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”
There is no-one more plucky and upbeat than Maria, as she leaves for Switzerland on foot with her love, Navy Capitan Georg Von Trapp and a brood of vocally-talented children.
But, if you remember (and if you don’t, don’t worry as it will be back on TV again next Christmas) doors aplenty closed in Maria’s face before the happy, mountainous finale.
Had she stayed ruminating on her failed career as a nun, would she have taken the job as a governess and met the love of her life?
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
So, no-one is telling you to not be disappointed about what has happened. You’re human. Life hurts sometimes.
Just don’t sit, turned towards the past and looking at that closed door for too long.
You may miss that large window of opportunity that is about to open up to you.
And maybe, whilst I have your attention, don’t spend too much time projecting into the future and deciding what shape that future door – or window – will take either.
It’s all about being in the here and now. We can’t begin to imagine the best opportunities lying in wait for us.
Remember what John Lennon once said,
“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”