My Problem…or Opportunity??
The next problem you face, shift your mindset, and view it as an opportunity. Go ahead…I dare ya!
Let me explain…My personality can be a little extreme at times. I don’t like fears getting the best of me. In general, I don’t like being defeated by anything. Obviously I am not indestructible, so circumstances often do challenge and defeat me. For example, all of my life I have been afraid of heights and for some reason, being attacked by a wild animal. Wild animals range from geese to bears. Basically, I am afraid of wildlife. Wow…I feel a lot better having revealed my secret shame!
My plan this summer was to defeat both in one shot…by climbing a mountain in Alberta, Canada; which was probably filled with bears, wolves, and who knows what other kind of monsters (at least that’s what I told myself!). We had our trip booked long in advance, but during the months preceding the trip, beginning in April, my left knee started to become painful. However, being the “tough” guy that I am, I ignored the pain, only to have the pain worsen with each passing day. Finally, after seeing a doctor, I was informed that I most likely had a torn meniscus, and would be wise to rest until I could have an MRI in late October.
Well that wasn’t going to happen! I had a mountain to climb! I am a very stubborn person, and when I make my mind up to do something, I most always see it through. This was going to be no different.
When we arrived in Banff, Alberta on August 7th, I was in excruciating pain. In fact, it was the most painful day I had experienced since the knee problem began months prior! No kidding! I needed assistance just to slowly walk around town on a flat sidewalk. I even needed to find respite a few times in the cold Banff River to alleviate the tremendous pain in my knee. Basically put, I was a mess. I should have been lying on a coach somewhere with a giant icepack resting on my knee – certainly not in the Rocky Mountains contemplating climbing my first-ever mountain!
However, in a somewhat cruel twist, Sulphur Mountain, the mountain I intended to climb, is directly beside the Banff River. As I soaked my knees in the river, I stared up at the mountain. I had come all this way to climb the mountain, but my knees begged for mercy. This was a problem. Or… was it an opportunity in disguise?
There are two options if you wish to summit Sulphur Mountain – you can pay $64 to ride the gondola and chill, or you can hike the trail for free. As I stood at the base of the mountain, I stared at a 7,486 foot problem. Mountains are often used as metaphors for problems, and at that very moment, I could definitely see why!
I wasn’t going to pay $64, so I really only had one option – I was going to summit the mountain by climbing the thing! Honestly though, the deciding factor in why I chose to climb wasn’t really about the money, but instead, I needed to create a powerful real-life story that I could share with others about overcoming problems and obstacles, and the incredible feeling of victory that awaits on the other side of the battle.
Climbing Sulphur Mountain would eventually reveal itself to be the most difficult and painful physical challenge I had ever experienced in my life. On tripadvisor, the trail is only described as a “moderate” hike, but climbing uphill for two hours with a torn knee elevated my mental toughness and determination to a level that I didn’t know I had. Each step was painful. Really painful. The only reason I succeeded is because I relentlessly imagined crossing the finish line. Over and over. The finish line. Because the problem was so big – 7,486 feet – the feeling of victory was unforgettable, and worth every step of agony.
I will never forget the feeling of taking my final step, looking out over the Rocky Mountains, reaching my arms out, and taking in the incredible feeling of accomplishment. Had I quit and told myself the problem was too big for me to handle, or made an easy excuse telling myself my knees couldn’t handle the pressure, I would have never have known the incredible feeling of victory. I would never have known what I am capable of. Instead, quitting or not trying would have only confirmed to me that I am not able to defeat major problems or setbacks alone. Each problem you encounter really is that pivotal…the problem can either STRENGTHEN YOU, OR WEAKEN YOU.
Defeating the problem of Sulphur Mountain instilled within me a confidence that I am able to fight AND WIN any battle in my life. It gave me a feeling of victory that I will never forget. The battle wasn’t easy. With each step of the climb, I had to fight with everything within me not to turn around and give up. But, I am stronger because of the fight. The problem of the mountain was an opportunity for my confidence, inner strength, and physical and mental toughness to increase. Thank you problem, thank you Sulphur Mountain, I am stronger now because of you!
On the OTHER SIDE of every problem is a stronger you. However, the only path to the other side IS TO FIGHT, no matter how much pain you are in, or how big the problem is. As I found out, the bigger the problem, the sweeter the victory.
However, on the SAME SIDE of every problem is a WEAKER you. If you don’t challenge the problem, but instead quit or don’t even try to defeat it, you will only confirm to yourself that you are weak and incapable.
Use your next problem as an opportunity. The problem you face is only wearing a mask…shift your mindset, be EXCITED about your next problem, because on the other side of the problem is GREATNESS.