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Opportunity of Obstacles: the Candace Lightner story

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Snowy mountain range lit by pink sunset

Photo by Jerry Zhang on Unsplash

Our world is a truly magnificent place–a place of innovation and wonder. Unfortunately, it’s also home to darker elements: suffering, need, and adversity. Although we try our best to avoid certain pains and obstacles, we often try in vain. Everyone experiences obstacles and adversities to varying degrees. What defines us, however, is not whether we experience these setbacks, but what we do with them.

Obstacles often have hidden opportunities lying within them. These opportunities, when discovered, allow you to find your true purpose and best self. In fact, most of history has been written by the men and women who have bravely challenged their own perspective on obstacles and found the hidden opportunities within them. Take the story of Candace Lightner, for instance.

The Candace Lightner story

The year was 1980. Then 13 year-old Cari Lighnter of Fair Oaks, California was quietly walking along a road to a local church festival when she was suddenly and fatally struck by a drunk driver. Cari’s mother, Candace Lighnter, was disgusted to find that the man responsible for her daughter’s death had an extensive history of drunk driving. And, as the arresting officer at the time admitted, the offender would likely not be given the heavy judgment Lightner believed was deserved since fatalities resulting from drunk driving were not legally considered murder at the time.

Fueled by her grief and passion for change, Lightner founded the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization (often referred to as MADD), which quickly became a powerful force in the nation. With constant lobbying and advocacy, Lightner was able to change legislation throughout the entire country to restrict drunk driving, raise legal alcohol limits, increase the nationwide legal drinking age, and successfully achieve harsher sentences and fines for those caught driving under the influence. Furthermore, she accomplished the great feat of successfully lobbying for courts to consider fatalities resulting from drunk driving murder. She is also personally credited with saving over 400,000 lives through her work.

In spite of the sorrow and despair she was experiencing from the loss of her beloved daughter, Candace Lightner armed herself with her newfound passion to save innocent lives. She was able to rise above the grief and pain to help make the entire nation a better place. No obstacle could stand in her way. No hurdle could overpower her. Once Lightner discovered the hidden opportunity within her suffering, she allowed the opportunity to fuel her purpose and ignite her passions for the betterment of herself, and the world around her.

The Opportunity of Obstacles

Candace Lightner’s story is one of triumph and tenacity. Although we may never endure an extreme hardship like Candace’s, we are often faced with obstacles and adversities in our own lives. In those hurdles, we’re often given a choice: allow ourselves to be overcome and eventually defeated by these roadblocks, or learn from Lightner and allow our obstacles to fuel our passions and actualize our purpose.

No matter our circumstances, no matter our obstacles, we are all capable of doing extraordinarily good things. Hidden in each obstacle, buried in every hardship is an opportunity–a chance to rise above and discover your true purpose.

Will you let your obstacles defeat you, or will you defeat your obstacles? The choice is yours.

For more on the importance of finding the opportunity within obstacles, check out our piece on artist Brian Delozier, no stranger to overcoming adversity. Or, delve into the power of passion and purpose with our Power Series.

© 2023 The Growth Group, LLC - All rights reserved.


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