You Are The Problem. Not The Situation.

It’s a bold statement, but if you take this on board it will change your life. I take it that the only reason you're reading this article is that something inside you agrees with the title of this essay. It's taken me a decade to fully understand and take on board this perspective, but it has completely shifted things for me and pulled me out of some very stressful times.

I've learnt that no matter who you are, how successful, rich, happy or good of a person you are, you will get dealt a shit hand from time to time. From my perspective, it's a positive because it means you're alive and it means your expanding. The only people that don't have problems are in cemeteries. Change your perspective and you will change your life. Adversity, failure, chaos, disappointment, being uncomfortable and making the wrong decisions are inevitable, and if you decide to, those experiences can be your greatest teachers. 

In life, there are 3 types of people. People that make things happen. People that watch things happen and people that wonder what happened. Which of these are you?

A lot of my life I believed that motivational speakers and successful people talking about these topics and manifesting success was all a scam, but I soon realised as I began to personally grow that there was a common pattern with all these people. They all had a different mindset and different perspective to most other people and they all found the good out of any situation.  

We are all dealing with our own demons and all of us have our fair share of problems. Some big and some small.  Some people are talented and some are not. Some get support from their parents and some don’t. Some have it easy and some have it hard. Some are fast learners and some can’t read. We all start at different stages and have different advantages and disadvantages, it’s learning to focus on the advantages you have and disregard the disadvantages. Life isn’t fair, it’s not easy and it’s certainly not perfect, but that's what makes it exciting.

If you learn to find a positive meaning in a negative situation you can only fail forwards. Imagine if a small mental shift could snap you out of the negative attitude that you carry around so you become more motivated, happy​ and expansive​. It’s actually quite simple, but it takes practise and persistence. Eventually, you will form the habit in the way you think, and most habits only take around ​14 - ​66 days to form, and as you know habits can last you a lifetime​. Whether good or bad​. I also know some of you are probably thinking it’s easy for me to say, that I’m lucky​ ​or talented or whatever. First, you need to stop thinking ​that ​about people as it’s a bad habit and will prevent you from seeing the good out of any situation. 

Secondly, and without getting into too much detail, I’ve had my fair share of pain. I was severely depressed until my mid-20s without realising it. I was an unexpected dad at 22. I developed a​n​​ addiction to marijuana in my mid-20s. I nearly went bankrupt twice. I lost my house while I had 3 kids. I was a cynic, a pessimist, a blamer and only saw the bad in any situation. I would see a man drowning as opposed to seeing a man worth saving. ​Despite all of this, I got out of it, worked on myself and now feel empowered from it. I’ve learnt so much and still continue to do so and want to share some lessons I learnt along the way on how I got through it and how to change your perspective. 


Here are 4 ways to see the good out of any situation:

1 — SET GOALS

Honestly, I can't emphasise how important goal setting is. The point of this essay isn’t around goals, but I want to plug this in here as I'm such a big believer in them. The reason goals are so important is because they give you clarity about why you are doing something. If you get off track, which is bound to happen, the goal will pull you back in. It's your GPS and road map to help you get you to where you want to go next. Goals will help you see the positive in the situation when you encounter turbulence because they give you the coordinates and certainty on where to head to next. If you’re feeling lost right now, chances are you have no goals, which means you don’t know what you want. Notice how when you know what you want you don’t muck around to get there and you feel more certain?

The amazing thing about goals is that they help you make better quality decisions. For example, I Love Ugly’s goal is to be one of the most dominant online menswear brands in the US, Australia and New Zealand. The keywords here are online, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Recently we had an opportunity to potentially open a few I Love Ugly stores in Sweden through a licensing deal. As appealing as the opportunity was, it didn’t align with our goals. Therefore by pursuing the opportunity it would have taken us further away from our goals and wouldn't be congruent with the other business decisions we have been making along the way, which would have been more destructive rather than constructive. This is one of the most powerful discoveries I have made, yet not many people have them.

I highly recommend listing off a bunch of things you want to achieve in the next 1 - 5 years, whether it be the type of car you want to drive, the house you want to live in, how much money you want to make, how much weight you want to lose, the company you want to work for, how happy you want to be etc. Look at your list of goals every day, and eventually, you will begin noticing certain things you haven't before. The reason for this, is you are activating a part of your brain called the RAS (Reticular Activating System) which is literally pulling you towards your goals. The RAS is the part of your brain that decides what it should filter out when it receives millions of pieces of information​ every day​. 

As an example, have you noticed that when you buy a car or a certain pair of shoes, no matter how rare, you soon begin seeing them everywhere? The funny thing is, that type of car or pair of shoes have always been there, but now your brain is noticing it because you’ve made your RAS aware of it. 

This is just as valid when it comes to goals. When you set a goal you are telling your brain that what you have written down is important to you, therefore it begins looking for those things, and you begin noticing certain distinctions you haven’t before which allows you to get closer to achieving your goals. Trippy stuff, but very powerful. Write those goals!

 

2 — PATIENCE

The number of times I see people quit after a few years of doing something because it didn’t work or they weren't good at it frustrates the shit out of me. The reason it didn’t work, is because you’re not patient enough to stick it out until it does work. You encounter a problem and decide it’s easier to quit than to figure it out, find the lesson and move through it. 

Boredom and frustration are part of any journey. As opposed to seeing it as boredom and stagnation, see it as consistent and steady progress. A 1% improvement every single day leads to massive progress over a 1 year period and exponential growth beyond that. Unfortunately, sticking it out that long isn’t always fun or enjoyable, which is why most people don’t do it. Learn to love the moments of being uncomfortable or feeling stagnant as that’s the tough part of the journey, it’s when most people throw in the towel. For years it felt I Love Ugly was going nowhere. I started out of my bedroom selling t-shirts on a website called Trademe (which is the New Zealand version of eBay) until I figured what to do next. I stuck it out with the belief that change was going to happen and the ​answer on what ​to do next will come. People are always in such a rush to make something happen quickly, and if it hasn’t happened quick enough they quit and go start something new. Smartphones and social media have taught us that everything has to be instant. Don’t comply.


3 — ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE LESSON

Whenever someone or something disappoints you. Ask yourself. What’s the positive in this situation. In 2015 I had the year of my life. New house, new car, was voted as one of the top 100 creatives in the world by Hypebeast alongside people I grew up inspired by and admiring as a kid. I had the most profitable year in business making over a million dollars net profit and I was under 30 years old. With all this ego, money and material I thought I had the Midas touch and could do no wrong. I took a trip to LA with my business partner at the time and decided to open a flagship store. It was a great idea at the time as the demand for the brand in the US was growing with over 50% of our sales coming out of the US. We went over and decided to open a flagship store. When we opened, it went so well that we decided to do it in Melbourne. Another beautiful store, then Sydney. 

All of a sudden I had spent a year gallivanting around the world opening expensive stores and took my eye off the ball. Big time. Costs were bleeding. Quality was slipping. Our team culture was dying. The design edge we were once known for became blunt. I couldn’t pinpoint where we went wrong because I was so busy looking for excuses around the market changing, the trends changing, our factories slipping bla​h​ blah bla​h​ without realising that I was the problem. I was too busy focusing on looking impressive rather than focusing on what was most important and paid a huge cost for it.

All of this resulted in losing over a million dollars the following year. It was painful, humiliating and the most humbling experience of my life, but it made me the man I am today. It made me realise that all greatness has to start with failure. 

This experience taught me to be much more risk-averse, be around smarter people that ask the tough questions, be more analytical and less optimistic in my forecasts and most importantly to be humble. This lesson quickly put me through the university of hard knocks and gifted me with an experience others haven’t had. I now have the knowledge to know which pitfalls to avoid in the future and most importantly to share my lessons with you. 

Life is like a puzzle. When you look at it like that it becomes exciting because you’re constantly looking for the pieces to complete the picture. It’s not black-and-white and it’s not a straight line. It’s an adventure if you allow it to be. So when things suck and in that moment you hate life and you begin feeling sorry for yourself, take a step back and give yourself some perspective. You will soon discover that if you didn’t go through that tough time you wouldn’t have found that piece of the puzzle to complete the full picture. Bingo. 


4 — FAITH

Faith is something you don’t often hear about outside of a religious context. It’s tied closely with goals, but it’s a powerful invisible force that pulls you out of those tough times. I’m a believer that all things manifest from the mind and faith is needed for anything you do.

If you want to do something that you deem impossible at the time, you need to be crystal clear on what it is and why you want it. When you have that dream in your heart or burning desire in your belly to achieve something but have no idea how to do it, you need to double down on your faith and belief to get it.

Every fuck up. Every wrong decision. Every setback. Every missed opportunity is a step in the right direction if you allow it to be. If you have faith that it is and if you decide to see the good in the bad situation. 

Faith​, ​grace​, ​​G​od or whatever you decide to call it is needed during those moments of doubt. 

Sometimes your struggle isn’t a result of what you’re carrying, but how you’re carrying it. Sometimes you’ve got to ask yourself, is this situation the problem, or is my response and perspective of the situation the problem?

What if the thing that causes you the most pain has the ability to give you the most happiness? What if the most traumatic event in your life became the turning point of your life?

What if you began to only see the good, the positive, the lessons and the opportunity out of every situation and how that would impact your life?

​Something to think about,​

Good luck. 

​V​

 

 

1 comment

This is an amazingly written piece and account of your own personal findings and experiences.
Thank you for motivating and sharing this with us.

Adrian August 01, 2019

Leave a comment