Turning Obstacles into Opportunities….

My first sponsor saw that I would one day be a teacher and a motivational speaker.  I was given lots of inventory work,  tough love and careful overseeing to help me redefine my life upon getting sober. The thirst for alcohol was converted into a thirst  for self awareness and  self improvement.

For over thirty years I’ve been helping people in crisis situations overcome their obstacles.  I call chaos the great teacher!  From my own experience  I’ve seen  during  times of crisis where obstacles are in surround-sound technicolor, that these are the moments  we find out what we are really made of. During immense chaos  we have plenty of vulnerable moments and confusion, which isn’t fun for anyone. Yet we have an opportunity to let old behaviors surface and when they do they reveal what’s  holding us back. From that point of self awareness we  can be move to self improvements since we have  a road map to see what  we need to overcome.

A Moment to Remember

I had a defining moment obstacle  occur when I was vacationing with my family in Puerto Vallarta during a Christmas Holiday week.  While we were leisurely enjoying beach walks and body surfing, I drank in the magical feeling in the air being surrounded by carefree vacationers in the embrace of the tropics and beach life.

Dad and I went out for a swim to do some body surfing. Being experienced swimmers and water lovers, we relished the fun of  big waves, so off we went. Then out of nowhere a rouge wave came crashing down on my father and me while body surfing. I survived okay but not my dad was  nowhere to be found.  50 yards away I spotted him, he was motionless in the water and had drowned.  Only a few hours later did we learn he had a spinal cord injury and would never walk again.

In THAT MOMENT when I got help to pull dad ashore and the circle of life i.e. strangers on the beach,  began  resuscitating the breath into dad’s body,  I got a game changer message.  It felt like a Divine Moment that said: It’s time to go after your  dreams of speaking and teaching. In life there are no guarantees about our health or the length of time we have to function. Don’t hesitate, now is the time.   I heeded the call.

Dad didn’t die on the beach that day,  but six weeks later he left this world. I do know the accident, which I call an incident, gave me courage to start my business Creative Life Solutions. My father was my hero and also an Entrepreneur. That period of losing dad was like an eternity of stress. All those obstacles  equipped me later in life to help people facing  very difficult situations.

With obstacles come so much swirling external chaos the internal stuff get’s loosened up too.  So my question to you is in the midst of this global crisis,  what  areas or  old behavior obstacles have surfaced for you? Here is a list of ways to capitalize not awfulize if you’re in trepidatious emotions or major defining moment circumstances.

    We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it…sound familiar? Well nothing is certain yet if you can rise above your past circumstances you gain the strength from  them to  help you function effectively with whatever you’re facing today. Look at the past like a refining mill: Those unexpected relationship endings, job losses, medical game changers, business or personal  betrayals and the list goes on. These life opportunities push us to the mat and when we figure out our new path to rise up and engage, we have champion power.
    Even though there is a road map in recovery, you can still design your personal strategy to make certain you are going towards happiness and  success. What personal studies or strategies can you add to your recovery tool box to ensure great things will come to pass. There’s meetings, inventory and a higher power, but there is a whole world out there too. Find a place you want to excel at: Is it raising a family, being a musician,  or starting a crusade? All life exploration is worthwhile.  I used to strive for perfection, but today I strive for experience. I think it’s worthy to  do the thing that scares you! Even if you don’t do it well, at least you’ll have the experience of doing something new.
    Since we have all been in ‘a situation’ with the global crisis here is where dreaming or  imaging  can serve  you. If you are overwhelmed with the obstacle in front of you, image a vision  of a future you more polished, poised, successful and brilliant. We are what we pretend to be, so  be selective about what you entertain about your future roles.  As an obstacle is swirling…  Don’t react from the victim place. Pretend you’re  a confidence capable warrior whose site is set on victory. Allow that victory-vision  to make the choices that will move you ahead. Are you ready to transition from chaos craziness  to chaos champion?  The moment you let go  and say okay crisis you are my teacher…watch how  the circumstances shift and allow the magical solutions to appear.

The Bigger the  Obstacles  The Bigger the Opportunities

I can hardly count the number of times I’ve faced adversity and found confidence to overcome that situation using my getting-sober past  and staying-sober present. One of the greatest feats that demonstrates the big obstacle big opportunity message was a personal health obstacle that happened eighteen years ago. That’s when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Cancer.

Breast cancer ran in my both my blood lines,  just like alcoholism. But I was living a healthy-yoga-meditation and sugar free life. So I was curious why cancer happened to health educated me.  However from my health educated stance, I was proactive when the doctors tried to scare me saying they had to ‘throw the book at me’ with aggressive surgery, chemo and radiation. Okay I get it stage 3 but then they threw in a zinger of fear, and they said, “Well there are  no   guarantees.”  I replied, “Thanks for your advice, and NO Thank You.”  I didn’t  want that treatment protocol and threatening approach stirring up  all kinds of  commotion in me. So I listened to my intuition and found a way out without such an aggressive doctor.

I didn’t allow being a victim of cancer or fear to guide my choices.  I went for the treatable and beatable approach looking for a medical professional that offered  faith, love and kindness. I found that with another Doctor who had healed a friend of mine, from a brain tumor.  This doctor knew I didn’t want surgery or chemo and he said, “I can help you heal without surgery but chemo will be very useful if you’ll agree to it”.

I agreed and was healed.

At that moment I approached   my medical decisions like  I was a CEO  hiring  my executive healing team. Did they have the ability to get the job done without scaring me?  If so let’s go. If not let’s pass. The lessons and life experiences I got from cancer recovery were huge. I parlayed my coaching skills into helping cancer patients after I recovered.  I knew first hand the bigger the obstacle the bigger the opportunity ahead.

As we circle back to the premise of this month of Recovery, please take a moment to thank all your life challenges! Give an extra kiss to those problems that got you to stop using drugs and alcohol to solve all life’s problems.  When you can,  apply  the principals in your recovery program to any crisis situation in your life. If so you’ll do well.

The next time an obstacle appears ask it “ What are you going to teach me today chaos?”  Resist anger and fear to take reign in your inner kingdom.  Shift to researcher of your obstacle and this will render  a fresh perspective.  See if you can find moments that lead to strengthening your character, courage and confidence right now,  because most likely just around the corner is your next big opportunity to thrive.

Carolyn Gross Professional Speaker & Executive Coach is the founder of Day of Healing Retreats and has Authored several books & CD’s: Rise Above the Chaos, Managing Chaos with Confidence and Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos. She has been featured on ABC, NBC and Lifetime TV. For more information on coaching or retreats visit  www.creativelifesolutions.com  or email info@creativelifesolutions.com.  

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