Adversity can be cruel, unfair, painful, challenging, and traumatizing. We can be left without a home, in debt, hurt, and kicked to the curb. We can choose to barely survive and hide those memories in the deepest and darkest parts of our mind or we can lean in, learn, and turn a nightmare into a mountain of gold.
This process is extremely hard and will take a lot of work to change your initial mindset. You might even feel worse before you start to feel better. Nevertheless, once your mindset is positively changed, you will start to face adversity with a completely different outlook. The challenging emotions will diminish in intensity and duration, you may start to embrace the experience, and your successes will start greatly outweighing your challenges. Another way to envision this process is by understanding how a sword is strengthened: A sword is heated, hammered, and quenched in oil or water to strengthen the blade. When we face adversity and then apply a growth mindset, understand our strengths, and look for unique opportunities, we too get stronger.
My greatest adversity started when I was a sophomore in college and I was racing sailboats in nationals. While racing, doing a sport that brought me serenity, I had my first suicidal thought. This thought snowballed into a decade-long major depression. During this time, I could not see the daylight and I became stubborn and bitter. It was not until I hit rock bottom that I dug deep within myself to become healthier. I was forced to improve my life with the only variables I could control: My sleep, fitness, nutrition, mindset, and community. Understanding the power of these variables led me to my successful career as a performance coach. I discovered how to tap into endless energy and clarity. As I got better, I began to say yes to all opportunities and created multi-million dollar deals and investments.
During my adversity, I was the lowest I could ever feel. I was battling with constant suicidal thoughts, without confidence, significantly in debt, homeless, on disabilities, told I would never live a contributing life, and severely mistreated by the mental health system. I would never choose to relive this experience, but I acknowledge it prepared me for life more than any college education. I developed a unique understanding of mental health and a relentless business mentality. I turned my once painful story into a personal brand. Also, I now focus on inspiring and advocating for the millions who are battling with mental health and face stigma.
For a while, I stuffed these memories into my mental closet, turned the key, and locked the door. This only increased my suffering. It was not until I learned how my past helped me grow and the unique opportunities it presented me that I was able to move forward, experience self-love, and start my healing process.
When you face adversity, embrace it! Understand and build off the strengths that helped you survive. Go into challenges welcoming failure because you now know it will only make you stronger. The Bannister effect tells us that when you believe in a positive outcome, you are significantly more likely to achieve a positive outcome. Your mindset is your greatest ally and your worst of enemies. How you face and understand adversity will determine if it only brings you pain and suffering or if it is your biggest catalyst for growth, opportunity, and success. Lean in, welcome discomfort and grow.