The Warrior Mindset Part 1: Turn Problems Into Challenges
This is a guest post from Shawn Rhodes, founder of Shoshin Consulting. Shawn is a traveler, teacher and above all, a lifelong student. After growing up in the mountains training in martial arts and eastern philosophy, he followed his own warrior’s calling and joined the U.S. Marines. There, he accompanied infantry Marines through two combat tours in Iraq, documenting their trials and victories for international news outlets like CNN and TIME. While living and fighting alongside this tribe of modern-day warriors, he discovered the link between the warrior’s path and mastery in life. He returned to the U.S. with the passion to share a vision of what humans are capable of when they embrace their own inner warrior and return to a mindset where all paths are possible.
This is the first in a three-part series on The Warrior’s Path. Each installment will explore the evolution of the warrior mindset. Rooted in ancient methods warriors followed for thousands of years, these installments will give readers a glimpse into how traditional and modern warriors see the world. Adopting this mindset can help anyone regain balance, direction, and control of their health, success, and life.
The traditional role of the fighter – the person who trains from a young age to be skilled in combat – is disappearing. For better or worse, the mindset learned from a lifetime of turning problems to one’s advantage on the battlefield or the boardroom is being lost. Technology is changing the face of war and our world. The traditional warrior’s path – years of intense physical training, exposure to the elements, mental exhaustion, moments that burn into memory – is not for everyone. That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the way warriors learn to see themselves and the world, however. I believe this valiant spirit lives inside everyone, and that we can all benefit from learning how to approach the world like a warrior.
A select few still hear the call to embrace warriorhood; not the call to control others with force, but to turn their focus inward to the battlefield of their own lives.
This calling is universal to every place and age. As we allow ourselves to become dependent on external distractions to fill our inner voids, the call to seize control of our destinies and live with a courageous spirit is louder than ever.
So many of us turn to television, alcohol, drugs, and even chronic exercise in the hope it will distract us from our responsibility as human beings and warriors: the mission of the warrior is to discover all they are capable of being.
Trained for Defeat
There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on in the world. When we are constantly looking for others to blame, we never have the opportunity to examine the role each of us plays in deciding the quality of our lives. The media and society reinforce a defeatist attitude, telling us we are cast adrift on the stormy seas of life, without paddle or compass. Statements such as “Look what he did to me,” and “She broke my heart,” are proof that people today are allowing others to decide the quality of their lives for them.
Warriors on the battlefield don’t get to choose their odds: the number, strength and experience of the forces they face. No one ever won a fight by thinking they were defeated before the battle began.
The Warrior’s Mindset
As you might have guessed, this kind of thinking is not the warrior’s mindset. Whether on the battlefield, in training, or around the home, warriors learn to never surrender control of their emotions, minds, or spirits to anyone else. To do so places their outlook (application of skills and capabilities) outside their hands and invites defeat.
Warriors take active roles. They know they can’t control what fate brings them, but they can seize and embrace a power that lasts: the power to take responsibility for the quality of their lives.
When a person realizes victory and defeat is first decided within, it only makes sense to begin viewing the world from the mindset of victory. Out of this mindset comes the discipline and courage necessary to prepare for the challenges life inevitably brings. To meet those challenges, warriors rely on an ancient form of magic – a kind of internal alchemy – to prevail.
Like alchemy, which sought to transform base metals and stone into gold, warriors possess the unique capability to turn problems to their advantage in order to accomplish great things, whether they be breaking fitness records, succeeding in business, or winning the love of their lives. They do this by taking the base metals – problems – and converting them into tools for growth – challenges. It’s better than any stage illusion. It’s real magic.
To begin using this magic in your own life, embrace the warrior’s mindset. No matter how many opponents stand against you (evil bosses, old injuries, lifestyle changes), and no matter their strengths (or how afraid you’ve been of them in the past), take responsibility for the quality - and excellence – of your moments.
Be mindful the next time you have thoughts like, “He made me do this,” or, “She pisses me off.” Once you catch yourself letting others control your mindset, embrace the challenge to transform how you see the world from a person who is ‘acted upon’ to someone who ‘acts on’ their intentions and life goals.
See the problems in your life as challenges to take responsibility for the quality of your own moments. This is how warriors find beauty in even the darkest situations.
Choosing to Live
There’s no limit to your success if you see each problem in your life as a challenge to practice this mindset. The shift of focus from, “They did this to me,” to, “I am deciding what to do with this situation,” makes the difference between life and death on the battlefield, and it will mean the difference between your life and death as well: a death of 80 years in which you never stood up and chose how you were going to engage the world, or a life in which you embraced every experience as a chance to grow as a friend, employee, lover, and always, as a warrior.
More articles and resources for training your warrior mindset and living a truly remarkable life are available at www.shoshinconsulting.com
Photo credit: Nuno R. Silva on Flickr