The Obstacle is the Way
“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means” – Ryan Holiday
How often have you been sidelined by an injury in training or sport, had a work project rejected or a deal/sale fall through? How many times have you asked yourself “what if”, or said, “If things would have only been different”. I know I have. Yet every time I reflect and really look at the situation that occurred and how it could have gone better, or different, I am immediately glad it didn’t. If not for those obstacles in my path I would not be where I am today. Writing these words, working with amazing people, married to an incredible woman that shares my values, beliefs, and passions. Let me give you an example.
My journey to become who I am today began with a pretty traumatic “obstacle”. Without going into too much detail I will tell you the story. Late one Friday night in 2004 I was leaving a bar after hanging out with some family that were in town. We had a great time, and by great time I mean we drank and danced… A lot… I vaguely remember leaving the bar. The next thing I know I woke up in a hospital ER bed, with a neck collar on and my mom and sister by my side trying to wake me up. I had no idea what happened. They told me that two men had jumped me when I sat down in my truck in the parking lot outside of the bar. The orbital bone under my left eye along with my nose was shattered and both would need to be surgically repaired. As a result of this incident I have to this day, nerve damage on the left side of my face, I have a plate and seven screws under my left eye which makes me look like I have a shiner, especially after being in the sun, double vision when looking at certain angles, and my breathing is inhibited through my nose. So I have the world’s longest lasting black eye, going on 14 years, and I can’t breathe well through my nose, which is AWESOME as an endurance athlete (insert eye roll). Some, if not all, would say this was a pretty bad deal. I also have to tell you that leading up to this incident I was in the best physical shape of my life. I was training for an off-road Ironman triathlon and had just the day prior swam the best and farthest that I ever had in my life and I felt incredible! My fitness was exactly where it needed to be and I couldn’t be happier. Then WHAM! Literally… not only could I not swim, but I couldn’t run, cycle, lift weights or do ANYTHING that elevated my heart rate for at least 6-8 weeks without the risk of permanent eye/visual damage. Oh, did I mention that I also had a wicked concussion? All that hard work was gone in an instant, and I was devastated.
Fast-forward a couple weeks. During my recovery, two of my clients that were very into holistic health and healing gifted me a session with Dr. Peter Jailet, their Chiropractic Neurologist, that practiced healing by addressing brain function first. What happened during that session and the sessions over the next several months altered my path and lead me to the place I am today. I began to study holistic nutrition and healing which lead to me attend IIN, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I then studied to be a Dr. of Naturopathic Medicine for two years, learned how to apply that to athletes, became an endurance coach, and on the story, certifications, public speaking, and teaching goes. You see if had not been attacked that night in the parking lot I would have never gone to see Dr. J. If I had not been attacked I would have driven while highly intoxicated and could have had an accident, been arrested for DUI, or even worse, injured or even killed another driver. That terrible obstacle that completely knocked me off of my Ironman path opened the barn doors to the world of healing. What I have been privileged to learn and share with others, especially my work with our adaptive athletes would never have happened. My going to nutrition school is what sparked the first conversation and lunch with my now wife Alix. That too would have never happened. I am exactly where I want to be, doing what I love every day, and I would not change it for the world. That terrible obstacle lead me to MY way, and my perception of that event back in 2004 has changed from anger, regret, embarrassment, and guilt, to gratitude.