EVOLVE – Turning Obstacles into Opportunities.
11th, September , 2019
Tap into 20/20 Hindsight. It requires acceptance, detachment from judgment and the courage to look in the rear-view mirror, assess the terrain you have covered, learn from it, let it go and keep focussing on the road ahead. Many people spend too much time looking into the past to make sense of the moment or predict the future. This habitual pattern keeps us stuck in our stuff, sabotages the moment and prevents us from finding true fulfilment or even worse, stopping us and those we love from achieving their full potential. The key here is to look, learn and let go. From my experience, the letting go aspect of life seems to be the most difficult. Letting go can be hard because it means letting go of aspects of your past – aspects of you. It also means letting go of your expectations of how things should, could or would have been.
Letting go after losing a close heat in competition was imperative, otherwise I took the disappointment and shame associated with the loss into the next heat, and the next one, and the next one, sabotaging my performance and future opportunities to succeed. We do this in relationships, careers, in competition and with family, using the past as a weird form of self-protection. In his book “The Obstacle is the Way” Ryan Holiday writes
“It’s OK to be discouraged, it’s not Ok to quit”.
We gather strength as we go.
The meaning of the events in our lives is determined by the meaning you attach to it. All negative emotions are based in fear and the inability to let go is based in fear. If you weren’t afraid to let go you would have don’t it already.
This pattern of looking into the past to validate my beliefs and predict the future is something I am very familiar with. As an athlete, entrepreneur, director, friend and wife, I often (and still do at times) seek out evidence to validate my stories and beliefs because as human beings, we would rather be right than happy. Why? Because when we think about painful interactions or our childhood, we can all recall a time when we felt shame for doing something wrong or being wrong, and none of us enjoy feeling shame.
Dr Brené Brown states,
“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough. Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
And as we know with change comes a sense of loss, which makes change a challenging concept to embrace.
There are many benefits in obstacles but too often we use them as excuses to stay stuck in a life of mediocrity, blame, unhappiness and victimhood.
Sometimes the ‘obstacles’ in life are due to actual experiences, like when someone close to you passes away or becomes terminally ill. At other times, obstacles are simply our thoughts and emotions, appearing in certain situations or circumstances.
All in all, the obstacles of life are simply experience’s that we may often find unusually challenging to deal with.
So why do obstacles and challenges create fear, despite knowing there are many valuable lessons and values emanating from them?
My fear of rejection (which drove me to become a six-time consecutive World Champion surfer) often paralyses me, thwarting my commitment to new and exciting opportunities.
Diving into the deep unknown in creating and offering my EVOLVE public workshop spawned a vast array of fears within me including the imposter syndrome, fear of not being good enough, smart enough or talented enough, all amplifying my fear of success.
Dr Jason Foxx suggests we often make apocalyptic assumptions when it comes to stepping outside of our comfort zone. Assumptions such as ;
“If I work harder to become more successful, I will have to compromise my health and wellbeing, my partner might leave me and I don’t know how to spend all the money I will make!”.
Quite often I find myself subscribing to my own assumptions and the longer I place my attention, intention and retention on these sabotaging thoughts, the stronger, more powerful and all-consuming they become.
This is my cycle of fear model. Predominantly driven by my fear of success, it tends to show up when unanticipated opportunities appear. Through analysis and study, I have become aware of my patterns of behaviour, indicating where I am currently positioned within the cycle, and this empowers me to silence the “worm”, keep things in perspective and take assertive action.
For me it all begins with procrastination, which is easy to identify, since you know what you need to be doing, yet easily find many reasons, excuses and stories to justify why you are not. Next, I begin to question myself, cue the mental terrorist, the imposter syndrome, the worm. The worm is my ego, muscling its way into my brain, burrowing into my subconscious mind, asking me questions like “Are you really good enough?”, “Have you done enough?” or “Do you deserve this?”. Comparison is toxic because it always leads to feeling inadequate. If you are questioning your ability, you begin to compare yourself to people who are way better than you, or versions of yourself that are better than you are now, instantly validating the story you have become the author of. Finally, these stories, revolving in our minds for any period of time become our beliefs and our truth. The power of the mind is extraordinary!
Your mess becomes your message. Some of the greatest revolutions, innovations and transformations have all been inspired by obstacles and challenges. Once you have navigated your way through, it’s a chance experience the benefit or see the opportunity.
Your past doesn’t have to be your future so keep looking ahead because the windscreen is much larger than the rear-view mirror.
Join me on September 25 at my EVOLVE workshop for a day filled with inspiration, expansion and transformation.
Visit the Evolve Event page to learn more.