Lessons Learned from a Life-Changing Accident

Friday 22 March 2019 - Posted by Julia McCutchen

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of an accident that changed the course of my life.

At the time I was working as the managing director and publisher of an independent publishing house called Element.

I attended a sales conference in Cyprus to present the new season’s books to the Penguin teams who would be selling them around the world.

Endings and Beginnings

In the opening session, a stage spotlight fell and struck me on the crown of my head.

The injury took me out at every level; I was unable to work for over a year and my healing journey took seven years to complete.

My career in publishing was over.

I subsequently left the corporate world to forge my own path without any real idea of what to do or how to go about it.

Depth of Transformation

It was certainly an intensely uncertain and challenging time!

However, looking back on it now, I wouldn’t change a single detail because I’ve experienced such a depth of transformation as a result and learned so much along the way.

Today I feel inspired to share a few of those key lessons with you.

1. Surrender to Reality and Accept What Is

For quite a while after the accident I struggled to accept that everything had changed and tried desperately to get back to where I’d been before – the multi-tasking professional who lived in the fast lane of life.

Resisting the situation was definitely making things worse… but I was afraid to let go.

Eventually I ran out of options.

When I finally surrendered – completely and absolutely – I was amazed to discover how just how relieved I felt; it was like a heavy weight had fallen away.

This was a major turning point on my healing journey and led me to the deep awakening that has been the guiding light of my life ever since.

What a gift!

2. Embody Your Insights and Realizations

Having woken up from the trance of who I thought I was (triggered by the total loss of my identity), I’ve spent the last 20 years learning to embody my insights and integrate them accurately into my life and work.

It’s an on-going process as there’s no end to the degree that your true nature can shine through your humanity without distortion.

The fundamental key here is the realization that intellectual understanding is simply not enough to see you through to the greatest levels of truth, freedom and flow.

Knowing that making time regularly to check in with yourself and make sure you’re on track with what’s truly important, for example, will only make a difference when you actually do it!

3. Trust Your Intuition and the Wisdom of Life

This big picture perspective is a fundamental shift in orientation and is especially relevant when you can’t see why something is happening (or has happened).

In the aftermath of surrendering to my post accident reality, glimpses of light started to appear on the horizon and a deep sense of trust in “greater forces” welled up within me.

I made a conscious choice to trust my intuition that there were reasons I couldn’t yet see for what I was experiencing.

Aligning myself with that positive belief supported me to act as if everything would turn out just as it needed to.

Clearly it has done, and I remain in trust that it continues to do so.

What I initially thought of as a catastrophe has become one of the greatest gifts that I remain eternally grateful for.


These lessons, amongst many others, continue to serve me well today as I plant the seeds for yet another new phase of my life and work.

They have become instrumental in guiding me to craft my ever-evolving version of what I call a conscious and creative approach to writing, living and the emerging focus of leadership.

I hope that sharing aspects of my experience with you will contribute something of value and perhaps offer a fresh perspective to whatever you’re going through on your journey right now.

Onwards and upwards!



Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash


  • Thank you Julia for sharing your life-changing moment and the lessons you have learned through total surrender. You are a shining example to what is possible when we connect to our inner guidance and allow this to lead us out of the darkness into the light. Your journey has brought you to create your conscious writing and now living and leadership process to share with us all. Thank you!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Jeanine which I greatly appreciate. It certainly has been / is quite a journey!

  • Julia, I appreciate the journey you have been on and your ability to draw so much from such loss.All that you have created out of the shards of your pain have become a blessing to so many of us. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much Helen. The loss was the catalyst for the transformation I chose to embrace consciously and creatively; the light that shone through the darkness. There’s always a choice regarding how we react to the circumstances that life throws our way.

  • Julia, a truly powerful story. From a shattering event, a true Release into an authentic ‘You’ arose. I did not realise it took you so long to recover but it is so encouraging to others that you soared up into a much richer place. From the ‘bad’ the good arose. I think your ‘waking up out of trance’ is such a vital teaching and a gift to bring others.The guidance to embody our insights and realizations is very good. Thank you.

    • Thank you Peter. Yes, the full recovery took a great deal longer than I initially expected too! However, I realize that not being able to find a “quick fix” was actually an important part of the whole transformational process for me.

  • I’ve heard of lightbulb moments but this was extraordinary! I resonate so much with your story. I had a breakdown six years ago and even though I am now self-employed and love a different life it became very clear in a group mastermind meeting on Thursday that I still haven’t come to terms with the sudden loss (sudden death) of my very successful corporate career. That I need to grieve that loss and the loss of identity. Until I do this I am holding myself back from new directions and my calling to be an artist. Your post is serendipitous.

    • Fortunately for most people, lightbulb moments don’t usually include being cracked over the head by a spotlight!

      Thank you for your courage to share your experience and it’s good to know that the post is serendipitous for you. I think your realization about not yet having coming to terms with the loss of your successful corporate career is significant. I encourage you to process your grief fully with as much support as you want or need, and be mindful of not getting stuck in the loss for too long; instead allowing it to “wash” through you till you feel done. Wishing you well for the next phase of your journey.

    • Thank you Daphne. I very much hope it serves to inspire others who find themselves in unexpectedly challenging situations.

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