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  • Writer's pictureRyan Wilson

Obstacle to Opportunity

Think of DEFINING MOMENTS in your life…the choice points that teach us about who we are, for better or worse.

Consider how your life may have been different had you chosen differently. For most people, the stories we form about ourselves based on these defining moments, actually change the direction of our lives.

The obstacles become how we get to know ourselves, and the opportunity for us to live our values. 

Let me give you an example…

I started university at the age of 15. I completed my first degree at the age of 18 and working hard towards my goal of getting into medical school. To get in, I had to write the Medical College Admissions Test (the MCAT), which was offered twice per year.

Eager applicants were typically told to write once “for practice”,  and to write it “for real” later in the year. So that’s what I did. At the age of just 18, I wrote the MCAT and did surprisingly well…except for my writing sample, which they couldn’t score at all because it was apparently illegible. I figured that was a sign I should be a doctor given all the jokes about “doctors handwriting”, so I met with the Dean of Admissions to make my case. They told me to re-write it, especially since I was already years younger than most applicants.

I was already at university, but still only 18, so I got cocky and spent the summer practicing my handwriting and working, and nothing else. When I wrote it again, I did great on the writing sample, and failed one of the other sections, so I couldn’t even apply and had to wait a whole academic year to write again! The next time I wrote it, I did well again and applied. The way the admissions process worked at the time, is that you applied to many medical schools (which was an expensive process), but if you were not selected for an interview, you were not told why until all the spots were allocated. Despite my competitive application, and being on-par with my peers who applied and were granted interviews, for some reason I was not. In May I discovered my home university had forgotten to send my transcripts, despite my having paid for them!!! I was FURIOUS! I got the Ombudsman involved and all the universities were called and informed what had happened, but they basically said tough luck, some in a not so nice way.

Remember I was still young, and still had a healthy rebellious streak in me, so I decided I am NOT doing medicine in Canada and started applying to Europe and the Caribbean for medical school instead. I got accepted in many of those places, and was set to go when someone pointed out that it seemed like my ego was going to separate me from my husband for 4 yrs minimum, and perhaps I should at least try one more time here. They were right, and I did. I got in and with a scholarship to boot! Had I not persevered, both to do medicine, and to stay here, my life would be unquestionably VERY different.

These experiences taught me about my own determination and perseverance, and to trust myself to take chances. As these beliefs were incorporated into my self-concept,  I lived them more and more. It allowed me to introduce Conflict Resolution training into medical education while still a medical student myself (training I completed when I didn’t get into medical school the first couple of times). It also allowed me change my residency applications from Palliative Care to Psychiatry at the last minute, because I believed and trusted myself and had the confidence that I  could manage however that played out.  Who I was in the face of those prior obstacles, changed who I became in the face of future obstacles. The obstacle became the way to living my values. 

Here is a 5 min awesome motivational video about turning obstacles into opportunities. It overlaps very much with the themes of what we talk about.

Answer the questions below to help transform your obstacles into opportunities!

What are your OBSTACLES and how are your responding to them right now? What stories do you have about them?

  1. What is the INTENTION for the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you want to create?

  2. How can you FLEX with the obstacle to remain true to your intentions and values?

  3. Who do you want to be in the face of this challenge? How do you want to DEFINE YOURSELF in this moment?

  4. What is ONE VALUE-BASED STEP you can take towards living out your intentions, given your current circumstances?

This works best when you share your plans with someone else, it helps us feel seen, like it matters and helps us to be accountable to someone else. So share your plans with a friend, or send them to us, post them on Facebook or twitter or tell the person at your local coffee shop!

See you next week!

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