The Most Unexpected Gift

Photo credit: David Everett Strickler

I published the following post several years ago, but I believe it is still the most appropriate post for today and everyday. 


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to communicate your ideal gift to a loved one. However, there are a few rules to the mission:

  1. You cannot expect to receive the gift or guilt anybody into giving the gift to you.
  2. You cannot give the gift to anyone — your best friend or worst enemy.

In the following short video, Stacey Kramer uses her expertise in branding and communication to describe her ideal gift to a group of people who attended her TED presentation.


If you receive a gift you don’t want, what can you do with it? If other people cannot see your gift, what is the benefit of having the gift? If another person sees your gift but does not see the gift the same way you see it, how would you change their opinion or would you let someone change your opinion?


Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.

Thanks to Wendy for sharing the video, Stacey Kramer for sharing her story,  TED for allowing Kramer to share her story, and YouTube for hosting the video that is the foundation of this post.


  1. Hi Stacey,
    Thank you very much for writing to me (us). You have a very interesting perspective and I know others who feel the same as you. In fact there are whole books written with the same perspective as yours. I liked your comments so much that I even printed them out so I could keep them for rereading other times.
    That was very kind of you to take the time to write to us.
    Thank you, Nancy

  2. Scott/Nancy:

    Thank you for reaching out. I fully appreciate that not everyone can see their injury or illness as a gift, and certainly not everyone has a good outcome that they can speak from. However, in my experience, having a life-threatening illness gave me a profound perspective on life, and made me appreciate things that I might previously have taken for granted. There are many adversities in life that we might prefer to not experience, but often the end result is that we are stronger for having overcome them.

    In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “David and Goliath” the author suggests the concept of a “desirable difficulty”. He references the many successful entrepreneurs and CEO’s who are dyslexic, and theorizes that in order to overcome the hardship of not being able to read or write with ease they were forced to overcompensate and learn how to think unconventionally and become good problem solvers. Their success may be BECAUSE of their disability, not in spite of it.

    In full disclosure I will also add that I can certainly relate to others whose struggles are so great that they cannot now (or perhaps ever) see an affliction as a positive. My 27-year-old stepson has a TBI that has manifested in mental illness. For him and for our family this is a daily stress and hardship.

    My TED talk was meant to share one personal experience with a positive outcome, but was never intended to apply to all situations. I do appreciate the dialogue, however.



  3. Sorry Scott but this makes no sense to me. I know some people think their brain injury was a gift. I’d like to understand how this speaker feels it’s a blessing. How can we hear the rest of her story and get a further explanation.
    Thank you.

    1. Nancy, I will send an email to Stacey Kramer. If I hear back from her, I will share her response.

      At the beginning of 2003, I was in great physical shape, I owned a successful consulting firm, my clients valued my work, I drove a nice car, and I purchased my first house. Three months later, I was listening to an oncologist tell me there is a good chance I will die. Suddenly, my definitions of success, happiness, and purpose changed.

      Although I had a challenging recovery as most survivors do, I feel my life today is even better than the life I loved before brain injury. For me, the new normal is significantly better than the old normal. I believe the main reason my recovery was so smooth (although very long) was I accepted the fact that I could never live in the old normal again. In other words, acceptance is the key that opens the door to recovery.

      Why do I see brain injury as a gift? It brought me closer to my family and friends. It taught me that spending time with people is much more important than spending time making money. It taught me the joys of volunteering. It taught me the value of learning. It taught me to appreciate others more than I did prior to injury. It taught me the value of sharing without the expectation of receiving anything in return.

      I was extremely happy before adversity, but I am happier now. For me, brain injury was definitely a gift. My only regret is that I spent two years after the surgery in a fog, before I recognized the gift I received.


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