- Business and Employment
"Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining" : Real-Life Stories
Silver Lining And Silver Spoon
Looks like silver was worth more than gold during the Victorian age. The fact is that it never was. Gold was worth more than silver then, now and will be in the future. When we say someone was born with “a silver spoon in his mouth” we mean that the person was born in a very wealthy family and blessed with abundant wealth since day one of his life. What about “silver lining”? This common proverb, “Every cloud has a silver lining” can be regarded as a pioneer motivation phrase of encouragement for those whose chips were down. “Every cloud has a silver lining” means that when a situation seems to be desperate there is always hope for better things to come. The proverb is used to encourage a person who is facing great difficulties and is unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It can also be used to describe bad experiences which turn out to be blessings in disguise; seemingly desperate situations that turn out to be great results in the end. This article is about the latter. I like to share with you, three true-life stories that befit the proverb, “Every cloud has a silver lining”.
By the way, I like to add the word "dark" to this proverb, to read, "Every dark cloud has a silver lining". This is to emphasize the hope and belief that even very difficult situation has the potential to create positive and beneficial result. And what about this? "Some dark clouds have even rainbows behing them!" This article is about the hidden gems behind those dark clouds!
Origin Of The Proverb “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining”
Before I begin to tell you the three real-life stories, let us explore the origin of this proverb “Every cloud has a silver lining”. The idea was originally penned by the famous English poet, John Milton (1608 –1674) whose best known book is “Paradise Lost” (1667). John Milton coined the phrase “silver lining” in his writing in “Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634” :
“Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?”
This was followed by Charles Dickens in his novel “Bleak House” which he wrote “I turn my silver lining outward like Milton's cloud”. On the American scene, the famous American impresario Phineas T. Barnum, in his “Struggles and Triumphs” mentioned the proverb, “Every cloud has a silver lining”.
During the early Victorian days, the standard phrase used was “There is a silver lining to every cloud”. Whichever way we choose to express it, the meaning is very clear. No matter how hopeless or desperate or difficult or challenging, a situation is, it will definitely lead to even better days to come.
Literal Meaning Of The Proverb “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining”
If we look at a cloud that blocks the sun, we will see the bright “lining” around the edge of the cloud. The “lining” appears to be “silver” in color. Hence the term “silver lining”. To be more dramatic, a dark storm cloud that blocks the sun will display a vivid “silver lining” around it. Just like the dark cloud with the silver lining, there is light and brightness hidden behind it. It may be dark and gloomy right now, but when the cloud passes the sun, we will see the full blast of the sun’s rays lighting up and energizing our lives.
I would use the phrase “Every dark cloud has a silver lining” to best describe a situation that is desperate or challenging but with hope of a better outcome. After all, Milton described the cloud as “a sable cloud”. “Sable” means “black or dark”.
I hope you enjoy reading the three real-life stories that I am sharing with you here, and if you ever had any dark cloud hovering over you, please remember to realize that "Every dark cloud has a silver lining”.
Real-Life Story #1 : When There Was No Business Coming
When one is in business, income depends on customers’ support. When there is no more demand for the product or service that one has to offer, then one is in deep trouble. The only option is to re-invent or change to cater for new customers’ needs. This first real-life story was about a small entrepreneur who operated a bicycle shop, dealing with sale of new bicycles, bicycle accessories, and servicing and repairing existing customers’ bicycles. In my location, the common mode of transport during the 1950s, was the humble bicycles. You were in the right trade at the right time then, if you were in the bicycle business. From the 1960s, things began to change. In fact, in this world, everything is constantly changing. It is not a matter of “if” but “when”. If you studied “marketing” you would be familiar with the concept of “product life cycle”, meaning that every product has a life span. After a period of time, the product will be redundant or not in demand. However, this particular product may reappear after a certain period. But the product has a life span at any one time.
The bicycle was no exception. In our location, the product life span of the bicycle started to decline from the 1960s onwards, and by the 70s, the bicycles were pushed aside by the motor-cycles. Coming back to my story; this entrepreneur was in deep trouble came 1960, and the bicycle business gradually lost steam, and by the 70s, no one operated a bicycle shop. Of course, the best and normal option was to sell the newly substituted product, the motor-cycles. So, most of the bicycle shops were converted into motor-cycle shops. Some simply folded up and went into oblivion, being unable to re-invent and adapt to change. The story did not follow that trend for this entrepreneur. He closed his almost empty bicycle shop and contemplated….“Every dark cloud has a silver lining”. Entrepreneurs are a special breed, otherwise they won’t be addressed as “entrepreneurs”, for you see, they are very enterprising, meaning, “characterized by great imagination or initiative for success”. His life’s mission was to earn more than enough to feed his family, and not to cling on to outdated business. Fortunately, this entrepreneur had up his sleeve, a secret product which he had faith in. This product was a traditional herbal ointment made from natural herbal ingredients. The recipe was a closely guarded secret passed down from his ancestors in China. “Every dark cloud has a silver lining”, and in his case, the dark cloud was the demise of the humble bicycle business, and the silver lining was this unpolished gem, the traditional herbal ointment.
Initially, he started marketing his herbal ointment by employing salesgirls on a house-to-house promotion, traversing the remote villages of the whole country. That was his niche market. He brought his product to the target customers in those remote villages where there was no competition. Over the years, he stood his ground and believed in the “silver lining” which eventually turned into a multi-million dollar business today.
I knew this entrepreneur intimately because he was my father. His “bread and butter” product? Take a look at the photo below.
"TYT" Herbal Medicated Oil
Real-Life Story #2 : When He Got The Sack
What would you do if you were holding a high executive position at the prime of your career life, and you got the sack? Don’t despair, for “Every dark cloud has a silver lining”. This young family man was enjoying the rewards of career success as a top executive with a world-renowned company, when he was asked to leave because he would not yield to his company’s unreasonable demand. In other words, he was sacked. However, the company under-estimated his resilience, ingenuity and ability to strike back. Instead of pressing head-on against this world-famous company, he planned his secret strategies which would eventually made him a millionaire many times over, and sent his previous company packing to the back alley.
The nature of his responsibilities was advising clients in matters of finance and taxation. Over the years, he had built-up a very close and personal business relationships with all his clients. And all his clients are amongst the biggest in his business territory. All those while, his biggest clients had been dealing with “him” and not specifically with the “company”. Get what I mean? That would be easy meat for him, to form a new company with his existing colleagues, and invite all his biggest clients over. What happened? In the end, the existing staff of the world-famous company resigned en masse, shifted next door to join the new company, serving the same group of the biggest clients in town. Now, our young man and his merry men and merry ladies, literally laughing all the way to the bank. For you see, they got the same wages plus all the company profits. That made many of them multi-millionaires, which of course included this young man.
There you are : “Every dark cloud has a silver lining”!!!
Real-Life Story #3 : When Cupid’s Arrow Struck
She was a dedicated worker in a state-owned agency. Added to that, she was the most popular and friendliest of all the employees. It might be because of her popular disposition that someone evil was just plain jealous. By a twist of clever maneuver, this evil someone reported some purported misdemeanors on the part of this model employee. Then all hells broke loose. She was suspended from her work and to inflict more misery on her, a litigation was filed against her. She was quite young and was the sole bread-winner of a poor family, supporting her parents and siblings. The whole misadventure was to drag on for years, and she was lucky to secure a temporary job offered by a well-wisher and sympathizer. In her long period of darkness and loneliness, an acquaintance constantly kept in touch with her, giving her the moral support that she most needed. Well, as they said, “Every dark cloud has a silver lining”. In the end, the prolonged litigation ran out of steam, and without any factual evidence against her, the court case was withdrawn. She was reinstated in her previous job, and that was when Cupid’s arrow struck her. This male acquaintance proposed to her, and as the fairy tale would end in “and they live happily ever after”.
(If you wish to read more about this couple, they were mentioned in my other article "How To Live Harmoniously With People Of Different Beliefs".)
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© 2014 Justin Choo