Written By: John Gaines
I remember it like it was yesterday; I was in the process of planning my wedding, remodeling a house that I needed to have ready by my wedding day of September 23, 2017, I was speaking at assemblies all over the Pacific Northwest, and I was preparing to quit my job in corporate America. On top of all of that, I was the primary caregiver for my dad as he battled stage four lung cancer that would eventually take his life three weeks before my wedding. Through this particular season in my life, I realized that obstacles are real, but I also realized that, in life, we would never have to deal with more than what we were created to handle. I've built a business helping students and educators learn how to PUSH (patience, practice, persevere, etc. until something or success happens) past their obstacles. But in this season in life, it felt like every speech was an internal self-conversation that just so happened to take place out loud in front of thousands of people. As a child, I faced a tremendous amount of adversity and obstacles. I was no stranger to hard times, but for some reason through this specific season in life, my perspective on obstacles and how I viewed them changed forever. I learned three critical life lessons that helped me "PUSH past the Obstacles" in front of me. I hope you find these three lessons as beneficial as they were to me.
1. We can’t always control the obstacles that come, but we can always control our response.
Newton third law of motion captures the essence of life obstacles in a simple yet profound way; for every action, there is always a reaction. It is, therefore, up to each one of us to “react” appropriately to every emerging obstacle in order to be able to shape our life course (Ravich, 2017). The unpredictability of life in its happening means that we must always be ready for both good and bad if we are to be successful in our endeavors. Understanding this helps us be prepared and adaptive to life challenges, in such a way that does not distract us from our real-life purpose.
2. Pain may be inevitable but always remember, suffering is optional.
As humans, we cannot choose who or what hurts us. However, we can decide if we are going to let the pain of being hurt dictate the rest of lives (Seligman, 2018). Most people who succumb to pain end up being miserable. I am not saying that we should not hurt nor show that we are hurt; instead, I am saying we should embrace the pain as a reality that allows us to understand ourselves, our students, our friends, and our community better.
3. Staying optimistic and positive in the midst of adversity does not guarantee everything will be okay, but it does mean that YOU will be okay no matter what happens.
Optimism is a shield that should empower one to see beyond the immediate pain. Just like there are good times, buoyancy allows us to appreciate the bad times as a reality of life and a lesson to help us improve and strive to attain better results in the future (Pritchett, 2014).
If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere. I learned a long time ago that the best preparation for tomorrow's obstacles is to do our best with managing today's obstacles. When, not if, but when you face your next obstacle remember those three critical lessons above, be your best, and most important do everything in your power to PUSH past that obstacle...your school, your students, your family, and your community need you to be GREAT.
Pritchett, P. (2014). Hard Optimism: Developing Deep Strengths For Managing Uncertainty, Opportunity, Adversity, And Change.Arkansas: Pritchett, LP.
Ravich, L. (2017). Everlasting Optimism: 9 Principles for Success, Happiness and Powerful Relationships. Abingdon-On-Thames: Routledge Publishing.
Seligman, M. E. P. (2018). The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist's Journey from Helplessness to Optimism. New York: Vintage Books.
Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Learned Optimism: How To Change Your Mind And Your Life. New York: Vintage Books
About the Author: John Gaines aka “John PUSH Gaines” is a former at-risk foster kid turned youth advocate, author, NCAA champion in football, motivational speaker and is the founder of the PUSH for Dream Leadership Academy. He has shared his inspiring story on television, at universities, nonprofit organizations, youth conferences, NBA skill camps, churches, and schools. He has worked with NBA superstars, Congress, educators, coaches & mental health professionals. You can read more about John on his website at www.johnpushgaines.com or on youtube.com/pushgaines