2 Ways to Change Your Mindset When You Feel Stuck
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― Neil Gaiman
As a former 13-year pro athlete in the basketball world, you have to work with people you don't always like to be around. You have to do things you don’t always want to do (like morning runs or grueling weight room sessions or long hours of media events). Other days, you have to show up for physical therapy and give up hours upon hours of your free time. As a college and pro player, I was always capable of sucking it up and showing up, doing whatever it took to get back on the court, improve my skills, and compete at a higher level.
I had a vision— I was going to compete and win, I knew there would be days of inspiration and days of painful suffering (and de-motivation).
If you are going to play the game, you might as well win, right?
This is how I feel about life, business, relationships, and startups now.
We all have a chance to become whatever we want in this world if we have a system, a vision, and put ourselves in the right driver’s seat. I say this because education is becoming seamless, digital, and available to many online for cheaper and cheaper.
I can learn how to do anything on YouTube.
Make ice cream.
Build a business.
Design a website.
Learn a skill.
The world needs you and your skills.
But what will they be? What will you focus on?
My pro basketball career is over, yet I find myself applying what I learned about inspiration, motivation, and success from basketball to the real world.
I’ve been working on creating a startup vision with my next team. The problem with creating successful boutique fitness ideas is building a sustainable product, culture, and concept that keeps people coming back. I question many fitness gyms' culture because of their transactional nature. The lack of fun.
I want to make working out fun again.
But my ability to communicate, implement, and build this startup has been full of setbacks, challenges, and small successes.
I keep reminding myself, I’m going to play in the startup fitness industry…
“If you’re going to play, you might as well win, right?”
To win in startups, I must understand my subjective experience with negative emotions and feelings isn’t exclusive, or special. We all feel this sh*t. We all feel demotivated at times. We all may be sitting in the wrong role or startup seat at times. Your company may be using you in the wrong ways.
This happens all the time in basketball, in startups, and in business. We go through these times of pain, suffering, or malcontent, but this what connects us to each other. This is what makes us human.
It’s in these tough times I have to remind myself:
1. It takes constant mindfulness and virtue to live a meaningful life and build a meaningful company.
2. These crappy days and negative stimuli (or feelings/emotions) are actually what I need to feel to experience so that I can choose to respond to them in a more positive way.
My thesis is that those of us that can find a way to rise up and take ownership of our choice to respond to negative stimuli will achieve more purposeful and meaningful things in our life that we care about.
Basically, we will win the infinite game.
If we can be self-aware of this inner game, we truly appreciate what we have. This awareness is how we practice constant gratitude, even when the dark clouds roll in. I can be aware of how at any moment, I can rise up and look at any negative experience and know it won’t last.
The grass will be green again.
The sun will shine on my face again.
I will feel better.
C’est la vie.
I’m inquisitive, especially about people that live meaningful, authentic lives.
These people, their souls’ rage and tilt towards the sun, laughter, and better living. Towards working towards presence, humility, and achieving their best self, business, and relationships.
I’m not there.
I have to work to do.
Yet, I ask myself: Why am I alive (to be free and inspire others to be free)? What is special about my human existence (nothing)? Why was I born into this life (to create, entertain, and help inspire)? How do we live with more purpose (design it into our lives)? And what would success or a journey to the top of the mountain top feel like without suffering or heartache or adversity or setbacks it takes to get there (empty)?
What would success feel like if I didn't work for it?
It doesn't make sense to only want an easy life because my internal success is overcoming the challenges required of me to achieve my goals.
To become present takes years of inner work. To become a professional basketball player takes thousands of hours and millions of jump shots.
I know now more than ever that a journey to any mountain top can never be without human suffering, emotional pain, or adversity. Nor would I want it to be. We need to learn how to choose what we do about the adversity we’re faced in our daily lives. Unexpected stimuli are what we need to become better. With conflict. With startups, with relationships, with learning, or developing our mental toughness.
Viktor Frankl said how we respond to any type of stimuli — like this or any hard day — is what pushes us into the next echelon of existence. A higher existence. A happier existence.
A more meaningful existence.
But damn, it’s hard when the “Sunday Scaries” or the Swamp of Sandness hits you like it did Atreyu’s horse in the Neverending Story.
“Artax, you gotta move or you’ll die,” Atreyu screamed, and he’s right. We gotta keep moving forward in our mindset. In our actions and positive behaviors.
Feeling 100 percent motivated or happy or purposeful is an illusion.
Yet, living a virtuous life — one that accepts hard days just as much as the easy days and makes a choice to respond to the negative stimuli in a positive way consistently will be rewarded.
Even in the throes of negative stimuli, we can choose to dance and know the sun will come out again and the grass is still green (Mr. Myiogi’s famous words). We can choose to accept our suffering or adversity with a smile and know…
I control my mindset.
It’s part of the price we pay to create positive change.
Yet, it’s these days, when everything seems so hard, frustrating, boring, and stiff that I need to remind myself, “Without this day or hard days after this, will my success and achievement and hard work and journey be appreciated?”
The answer is no.
In the pro sports world, suffering, work, and maintaining your mindset as you move through adversity is the price you pay for admission into the infinite game of achieving your goals. Suffering is the price you pay for internal or external greatness.
Pro basketball pushed me to witness the dichotomy of experience — and knowing that without the bad experiences, how can we truly appreciate the good?
We cannot know life without experiencing death. We cannot know love without experience heartbreak. We cannot truly know success without feeling a failure.
Stay mindful of this dichotomy. Practice virtue. And keep moving forward.