Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all enjoying a few days with friends and family, unplugged (except to read this blog, of course), relaxing and reflecting on all there is that you are thankful for.
I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my company and team. I am grateful for the books I read. I am grateful for the mentors in my life. I am grateful for my health. I am grateful for my emotional fitness. And ultimately, I am grateful for challenges and problems because that’s where growth happens.
Earlier this week I was reading The Obstacle is the Way and the book really gave me a major aha moment. We encounter problems every day, don’t we? So, why do we always resist them? As I continue to grow my life and my businesses more problems are going to show up. And that’s a good thing! Problems are a sign of life. Problems are an opportunity.
Have you ever noticed that after reflecting on a problem or challenge in the past, you realized that the problem actually guided you to make decisions you may not have before and maybe moved you in a direction you wouldn’t have thought to go in? That catastrophic problem three years ago may have ended up being the best thing that happened to you. Maybe it led you to your partner. Maybe it led you to a new career. Maybe it led you to quitting your job and traveling around the world where you then met your partner! Whatever it is, embrace it. Problems show up to guide us on our journey through life, forcing us to make decisions, work harder, create new relationships, choose a different path, do something that will ultimately benefit us later in life. Have confidence that the problem showed up for a reason, because you needed to learn, you needed to grow, you needed to step up and break through mediocrity, you needed to move in a different direction, you needed to face a fear, you needed to push through a limiting belief, or you needed to start a new business. Trust in the problems. Embrace them.
Sure, in the moment, the problem is a pain in the ass, but if you can shift your mindset to seeing these problems as little gifts from the universe, as opportunities, then you’re already winning. Use problems as fuel to live an even bigger life. Embrace your problems and truly, I mean truly, love them. Love each problem like it’s a million dollars (that changes your perspective doesn’t it?). If you love your problems, it will keep you in action and your beliefs and values will guide you towards making a decision. You always have a choice.
And really, it all comes back to emotional fitness, doesn’t it? Words are just words and events are just events; it’s the meaning you attach to those words and events that can change your world positively or negatively. You can be pissed off at something that happened to you, but don’t let that define you. You’ve got to learn to separate you inner world from the outer world. The inner world (your thoughts, your emotions, your spirit, your being) is all that we can control. It’s all you should try to control given that we live in such an uncertain world. You can’t control external events. If you try, you will be failing perpetually.
Life is unfair. Period. I hope that’s not news to you. Do we want to avoid conflict, and chaos, and challenges, and problems? Of course. But if you wake up every day and work on yourself and your emotional fitness to prepare for unforeseen challenges, you’ll already be who you need to be to handle whatever problem comes your way. Most athletes train for years for that one moment that they’ll cross the finish line first at Kona or the CrossFit Games, or that one swing or pass that wins the game. Even if we never have those moments, we understand the importance of training our bodies for health and energy. Why do we not train our minds? We just pray that problems won’t show up, instead of training for them daily.
And that’s why we fear problems. We’ve never been trained on how to handle them! Well, let me let you in on a little secret, the best way to learn how to handle problems is to have more problems in your life – bigger and more complex problems. And as you grow professional, personally, and spiritually bigger problems are going to be thrown at you. Trust me. The world is testing us and knows we can handle it (even if we don’t know that we can at the time). Problems are designed to increase our emotional fitness, to increase our integrity and morality, to increase our growth and our spirit. When we die, I believe that we are going to look back at those challenging moments, those problems, where faith, trust, and personal growth showed up as some as our proudest and most life changing memories. Don’t back down from your problems – step into them and embrace them as the opportunities that they are.