17 May The Blessing of Being Hacked
A few weeks ago I was faced with what seemed at the time to be a cyber disaster. Someone had hacked into my email and sent my entire contact list an email with my signature, claiming that I was stranded in the Ukraine with no passport or money. This email also included a plea to send me money ($2400) with a personal promise to repay this loan as soon as I returned to Canada. Upon realization that this email had been sent out on my behalf, I immediately sought ways to send a message to all of my contacts indicating that it was a hoax however much to my shock, when I logged onto to my account, it had disappeared, along with ALL my contacts, emails and information.
Naturally, a plethora of emotions followed – I was stunned, angry, panicked, embarrassed, and frustrated. The fact that I am not very technologically savvy only added to my emotional state. I wasn’t sure what I should do first. As I frantically searched for ways to regain control of my cyber life; phone calls, text messages, and emails sent to another email account came flooding in. These messages ranged from friends and colleagues who were genuinely concerned for my well being as well as others who wanted to simply advise me that they had received a rather unusual email from me.
After I regained my composure (truth be told, as a grief counselor, this is hardly a crisis in comparison to what I see in my practice). Therefore, I began to explore my options about how to go about salvaging my email account (and keep my reputation in tact) in order to make things right.
Approximately 24 hours into this exercise, with the assistance of my technologically savvy husband, I was able to reinstate my contact list. Shortly after that, I noticed the emails that I thought had been deleted from my folders, were all placed into my trash, thus began my plight to re-categorize, re-sort and re-label ALL 10,000 of them!
Interestingly, that same day, I happen to connect with a friend, and as I recounted my “email fiasco” to him, he responded by saying, “Why don’t you look at this as a chance to start over?” This statement stopped me dead in my tracks. At that very moment I realized how this experience, albeit frustrating, could equally be viewed as a new opportunity. Not only did this incident serve to help me recognize all that I have, it also helped me re-frame a seemingly negative situation into a positive new experience.
Think about it,
- What would you do if you had a chance to start from scratch?
- How would you do it?
It is not uncommon to let our past pull us back to the place we think we want to be, but knowing what I now know, I wonder where our time is better spent – reviewing our past or developing our future; in this case, creating new folders, new initiatives, and new contacts?
I am not sure if people don’t get the chance to start over, or are simply too frightened to take a leap of faith into the future. As such, we tend to remain in our comfort zones. Finding myself in this situation, whether by accident or by design, because my email account was erased, I now had a choice: I could reinstate all the 10,000 emails or none at all or HAND PICK the ones that really matter. I decided to select about 1/8 of my former emails and felt empowered by the entire exercise.
Ultimately, life is going to be full of situations that make you feel like you’ve been hacked, which will leave you having to make a choice – you can allow yourself to get caught in the past, or you can look at each experience as a new opportunity to grow, develop and learn.
There is an expression, “A blessing in disguise”…from my perspective, being hacked turned out to be just that!