Published by John Terry - The Black Belt Leader in Leadership · 20 August 2020
John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader
Problems. They are part of the human condition. We all go through them, and at times it seems like we simply go from one problem to another. Or worse, we have that nagging problem that just won't go away. Know what I mean? Sure. We've all been there.
Problems are a part of life. My dad described problems as the valleys you go through to get to the top of the next mountain on the journey of life. Oh great, Dad! So I'm going to spend the rest of my life going from a great experience to a problem, to another great experience, and then on to another problem? That's life?
My dad, in his infinite wisdom, simply said yes. He then shared something that's stuck with me my entire life, and a secret to success that every leader must embrace and master if he or she intends to live life as a Black Belt Leader in Life.
Life is a series of lessons to be learned. We can either learn the lessons life is trying to teach us and become better, or we can ignore what life's trying to teach us and repeat the same mistake over and over.
John, he told me, life will keep putting that lesson back in front of you until you learn. So you can approach life from the mindset of being a lifetime learner and look forward to what life's trying to teach you, or you can adopt a victim mindset and simply accept problems as part of life and you can't learn from them.
Lessons learned help us to grow, to mature, to become better versions of ourselves. Lessons learned make us wiser, more knowledgeable, more adaptable, more resilient. It stretches our thinking, helping us see new and innovative ways to problem-solve, to get results. Lessons learned improves our confidence, our stability, and strengthens our resolve to keep going.
Lessons learned help us to see the opportunities for expansion that have always been there waiting for us to hone our confidence and skill set to the point we believe in ourselves that "this" (whatever it is) is not only possible...but achievable.
But there is something that can (and often does) hold us back from learning the lessons life is trying to teach us. it's the reason why we often find ourselves making the same stupid mistakes over and over again, complaining that we can't ever get ahead, we're stuck, and life's never going to change. It's what prevents so many people from achieving real success in their lives, or experiencing a life of significance.
My mentor, John Maxwell, says what you focus on gets bigger. It expands. Where you place your emphasis is where results come. When you focus on the problem, it gets bigger. The result? You've overwhelmed by the problem. On the other hand, when you focus on learning the lesson the problem is trying to teach you, being intentional about learning how this circumstance can make you better, the problem gets smaller.
Why? The emphasis is on learning and applying the lesson so you can become a better version of YOU!
In the martial arts, we teach students the importance of focus, as a distracted mind is dangerous, at it can make you a victim of circumstances. Did you get that? A distracted mind is dangerous. It can make you a victim of circumstance.
Is it any wonder if our focus and attention are on the problem, rather than the lesson it's trying to teach us, we can become a victim of circumstance?
One of my good friends was Dr. Dan Netherland. Throughout his life, Dr. Dan was an amazing martial artist who understood the power of focus. A multiple Guinness World Record holder, Dr. Dan throughout his life showed what one can do when focus and intentionality become the mindset by which you live life.
2,000 pounds (one ton) of concrete can be an insurmountable problem if that becomes the focus of your attention. Or, you can take what you've learned in the past, as Dr. Dan demonstrates in this YouTube video, and choose to be an overcomer.
Years of power breaking gave Dr. Dan the belief that anything was possible, and this Guinness World Record break was another stepping stone to greatness.
Some of life's greatest discoveries and accomplishments have come in the midst of adversity. Problems properly viewed as a learning opportunity has resulted in the cure for polio, measles, diphtheria, yellow fever, tuberculosis, and many of the life-saving cancer treatments we have today. Many of today's technologies we take for granted were the result of someone experiencing a problem and choosing to do something to fix it.
These pioneering inventors were able to do so because they choose to focus their efforts on the opportunity the problem was presenting rather than zeroing in on the problem itself. They chose to be focused, intentional, on becoming a problem-solver, finding a solution, learning a lesson they could in turn share with others, so we could all benefit as a result.
Now here's the secret to living life as a Black Belt Leader in Life. No problem exists that doesn't have a solution. The solution may not be evident at this moment, but the problem will reveal the solution, the life lesson, the opportunity...if we approach the problem with an open mind to see the solution that is already there - waiting to be discovered.
One of my good friends and a fellow leadership coach, Jason Stoughton, says, "Crisis and difficulty will not define me. Crisis and difficulty will refine me." I love that statement, as it's an attitude statement of intentionality. It is setting your intention on how you approach the problems that are a part of the human existence.
It's a mindset of success that comes with a choice to focus, to zero in, on learning the lessons life is trying to teach us with a willingness to learn, to grow, to mature, and become a better version of ourselves as a result of the lesson learned and applied.
In the game of darts, the goal is to get the dart into that small red dot in the center of the target. For those who have chosen to learn the lessons of playing darts, it's a display of focus and skill that's a beauty to behold. High level players don't see the target, they see the one spot of the target they're trying to hit. It's focus and intentionality at a high level.
The red dot can be viewed as a problem or as an opportunity. Winners see the red dot as an opportunity to be seized, and it is there they focus their energy, experience, and efforts.
That's how we should view the problems life throws our way. An opportunity to zero in, and see success.
We can choose to zero in on the lesson life's trying to teach us, or we can repeat the same mistake over and over again. The choice is yours, every single day of your life.
Choose to see the problem, the red dot you're staring down, as an opportunity to achieve success, and focus your energy, experience, and efforts there.
What you focus your attention on gets bigger.
Change your focus, change your life.