Turn Obstacles into Opportunities

Opportunity

How You See Obstacles is How You See the World

I turned 29, on June 7th, one more year closer to 30.

30, it’s just a number, right?

As a kid, 30 seemed like that point in life where you knew you were getting old. It was not quite 40, but you were almost at the crest of the hill.

I don’t know when that distinction in my mind was made that 30 was the beginning of old or 40 meant “time to sign up for death” but for some reason, that is how I viewed those numbers.

A Picture Tells 1000 Words

I spent my 29th birthday at home cooking out with some friends and family. I’m living here in NC for the summer while I run a boot camp for a local theater and my roommate (also one of my best friends and editor) has photos of me hanging around from college, like this one.Obstacles

Initially, when I saw the photo my first thought was “oh, I can’t believe that was me!”

I remember college. Even through the hazy fog of smoke and booze I remember a lot of those days and nights.

They were the best years of my life. I learned more about who I was in college than any other time.

When I think about those stories at the moment, I don’t see that puffy looking ginger kid above. When I relive those memories I see the me of “now” in them. My memories are intact, but the perception of myself has changed.

I haven’t changed though. I’m still me.

I remain the goofy, awkward ginger kid who sometimes tries way too hard to be “cool”. I’m always looking to make someone laugh even at the expense of myself. I’ll go the extra mile for the people I care about to show them I care. I still make stupid faces in every picture I take because my “fake” smile will never look “real.” I still love to party and throw down every once and awhile (just not every night now).

Free Your Mind and The Rest Will Follow

In her book, Mindset: A New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck concludes that there are two mindsets: fixed and growth.

The fixed mindset tends to view our personality, talents, obstacles, and creativity as static unchangeable tenets. Those who live with this mindset are perpetually attempting to prove themselves to others entwining their self-worth with external validation.

How much of your life is spent looking for validation?

The young 24-year-old kid in this photo was stuck in a fixed mindset.

I felt that I needed to prove, in numerous ways, that I was good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, I wanted people to like me.

What Lies Beneath

Deep inside, I thought I was predetermined to be the “fuck up” for the rest of my life.

Plans of change were hatched but in the back of my mind, I knew they were only empty words.

That little voice would climb in and whisper, “you aren’t going to do this, and you know it so stay here, where it’s comfy.”

I had a “never can” or “never could” mentality.

Be the Change

The second mindset, according to Dweck, is a growth mindset. This mindset is characterized by perceiving qualities as skills that you can cultivate through practice.

People with a growth mindset do not look to prove their worth or complain about what fate has handed them. They actively work to better themselves and view their obstacles, failures, or successes as learning experiences. They may even welcome failure because they view it as a learning experience and not a validation of their worth.

“What it all comes down to is that a mindset is an interpretative process that tells us what is going on around us. In the fixed mindset, that process is scored by an internal monologue of constant judging and evaluation, using every piece of information as evidence either for or against such assessments as whether you’re a good person, whether your partner is selfish, or whether you are better than the person next to you. In a growth mindset, on the other hand, the internal monologue is not one of judgment but one of voracious appetite for learning, constantly seeking out the kind of input that you can metabolize into learning and constructive action.”
— Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
At 29 years old, I’ve changed from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

I want to better myself in every way possible.

From getting stronger physically, becoming a better coach, reading more, expanding my knowledge beyond all things geek and fitness; I want to build something positive that leaves a lasting impact on people and inspires others to cultivate and grow their own minds.

I want to help people unlock the power they hold inside.

It is possible to go from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

Let It Be

One of the first things I had to do was to focus only on what I could control and stop worrying about the rest.

Obstacles

Ryan Holiday’s book The Obstacle is the Way, has impacted me more over the last year than any other form of media.

It’s a book that profiles how some of the most famous people in history applied the principles of the Stoic philosophers in their darkest of times, particularly from the writing of Marcus Aurelius.

When we discard our expectations and accept what happens to us, understanding that certain things—particularly bad things—are outside our control, we are left with this: loving whatever happens to us and facing it with unfailing cheerfulness.

It is the act of turning what we must do into what we get to do.

Instead of fighting what we can’t control, we can put our energy and emotions and exertions where they will have real impact.

A growth mindset looks at obstacles and views them as opportunities.

Whatever your obstacle may be instead of viewing it as fate keeping you down or yet again another failure, turn that thought around and think of it as a chance to grow.

The Tree of Life

On a stretch of road between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming there is a tree known as “Tree Rock”, a limber pine tree that has grown from out of a crack of a million-plus-year-old boulder.

This tree has sprouted and grown for hundreds of years in a space that it should have never been able to take root in.

Obstacles

Photo from Wonders of Wyoming

In its determination to survive this tree took every drop of rain and ray of sunlight as an opportunity for it to grow.

Slowly, but surely, that seedling pushed its way skyward never thinking about the obstacles that it faced.

The more you turn an obstacle around and view it as an opportunity the more often you’ll find that your mind/body/spirit seem to flourish.

It takes time to grow and change and become the best version of you.

Changing my mindset did not happen in one night. It won’t happen overnight for anyone. Take the obstacles you’re given and turn it into opportunities that can help you achieve your highest level.