Dec 19, 201851m | se3 : e124
124: How to Find Opportunity in Adversity with Marcus Aurelius Anderson
Dec 19 '1851m | se3e124
Play Episode

This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Marcus Aurelius Anderson. Marcus is best-selling Author, TedX speaker, Entrepreneur, and coach who is best known for teaching people how to harness the gift of adversity.

I have had the chance to meet and spend time with Marcus and I was blown away at his insight about life, business, and how to maximize potential.

And the story of how Marcus came to be who he is and teach what he does is one of the most powerful that I have ever heard and I know that you will learn a tremendous amount from him.

Marcus started out going to chiropractor school, was married, and following the typical life path. All at once, he got a divorce and lost a strong male role model in his uncle who was a special forces veteran. This caused Marcus to re-evaluate his life and do something he had always wanted to do deep down, join the special forces.

The only problem the cutoff age was 35 and Marcus was older than that. But the recruiter spoke with him and saw his passion- and how good of shape he was in, so he signed a release to allow him to join.

After the first two weeks of training, he could see that he could do it physically and new his mentality would carry him through. He got placed with the 10th Mountain group.

He was having these symptoms that he was writing off to just the hard work he was doing, but in reality he had a C5 nerve root that was compressed in his spine and the disc exploded while he was sleeping leaving him waking up paralyzed from the neck down in his barrack bunk.

He was bedridden, divorced, and had nothing.

It was at this low point where everything started for him.

To come back from things, Marcus had to be operated on and he flatlined on the operating table twice during the operation. After the surgery, they didn’t expect him to walk unless he could in just a few days or he wouldn’t ever walk. Days turned into weeks, then week’s to months. He was bedridden for 3 months and was full of anger.

How did you recover?

  • The realization that the anger was not helping him
  • Being angry at himself, his circumstance and everyone around him was holding him back and not letting him be able to move forward.
  • He looked for something to offsite the anger. For him that was gratitude. He took himself out of the equation and asked “Where is the opportunity in this adversity?”

At the 11 min mark, Marcus talks about the realization and understanding of what would have happened had he been deployed with his team and his injury happened and how that gave him a very positive perspective and helped motivate him. In fact, he sees the whole experience as making him lucky.

It was once he saw his adversity as a gift and found joy in his realization, he began to get feeling back in his fingers and toes.

After a year of physical therapy, Marcus was able to walk again.

Besides learning how use your mind and bend adversity to your will, what is the most important thing you learned about yourself and the human spirit?

  • The human spirit, body, and mind is much stronger than we give it credit for.
  • We are only as strong as the adversity we overcome, but most people never push themselves in any of those capacities and stay comfortable, so they never learn what they are capable of…
  • We have to learn to stop our mind from shutting us down when we reach the unknown in our lives.
  • We must ask and expect more from ourselves.

How does someone push themselves to grow to their next level?

  • It is difficult for us to push ourselves, we need help either in the form of others to push us or having a coach or trainer.
  • Adversity is an adversary and fuel for finding out what you are made of in overcoming it.
  • Pushing slightly past a limit is a little victory and every time you do, you grow. The little victories matter and we must discipline ourselves to seek them and relish in them.
  • Seek micro-adversities
  • Find the gratitude and joy in it all

Can you expand on how people can put habits in their lives to push them and stretch them over their adversities?

  • Create micro-adversities. For example, Marcus fasts twice per week to work on his willpower and control.
  • At the end of the day, look back on your day and ask what adversities you ran into and what the opportunity is in them. Self-reflect while you brush your teeth.
  • Push yourself to where you hear the little voice in your head want to quit…and then talk yourself through and power through it. Each time you do it, it gets easier.
  • Use your fear to push you.

How does someone get “unstuck?”

  • Challenge your beliefs and ways of thinking
  • Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own – Bruce Lee
  • Seek wisdom for yourself and challenge yourself to execute in some way on it.
  • Go out and find ways to be uncomfortable.
  • The things you are avoiding are what will grow you and help you get unstuck.
  • Taking some sort of action at all will make a difference vs. not doing anything.

What do you see that consistently holds people back from reaching their potential?

  • People are held back by their belief systems and their self-worth
  • What you believe about yourself and your value directly impacts your potential and ability to get to their next level.
  • People ask themselves, “What should I be allowed to do this? Or Why am I better than others in my area of value?
  • They should be asking “Why the hell not me?” There are so many people out there that are not good at what they are doing, but have the audacity to fall on their face over and over again and end up succeeding where others give up.
  • If you are going slow enough that you can control, you are not going fast enough. If everything is easy, you are not asking enough from yourself.

How do you teach people to train and program their mind to become who they are meant to be?

  • Using the Adversity Scale where 10 is the worst thing you’ve ever been through and 1 is heaven on earth.
  • At some point, you’ve reached a 10 in your life
  • You need to ask yourself about your 10’s and put it in perspective, is it really that hard or that bad? Could you push yourself even further?
  • Most people operate in a zone 2-4 on the scale
  • If you look at the value you deliver and how it can solve problems on the scale, you can re-evaluate the value for what it really provides and thus the worth of you for delivering it
  • Focus on “quality” value. High standards for everything.

At the 31 min mark, Marcus explains what the “Inner Warrior” is and what it means…

  • It means having a mission, a set of objectives to accomplish
  • It is the indomitable spirit to be great and succeed on the different missions in your life from your work to your family, relationships, etc.
  • The mission is inevitable, it’s not if, but when, but more importantly for you, it’s how well and what level it is accomplished at.
  • Focus – If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority
    • There are 3 things that derail people:
    • They don’t have urgency
    • They don’t have a goal or objective worthy of pushing them forward They don’t have even idea of what they want to do
  • Solving those 3 issues helps you to move forward
  • It is about doing all the right things that allow you to be in the right place at the right time

What are some topics from your book, the Gift of Adversity, that you don’t usually talk about, but feel are important?

  • No matter how successful you get, there is still struggle, there is still adversity
  • It’s not supposed to be easy. Adversity is the indicator of things being worth doing or not.
  • Parkinson’s law is important to understand. The law states that the amount of time you have to get something done is the amount of time you will take – when in fact, you don’t have to take that time. If you have 2 weeks to get something done, you don’t have to take 2 weeks, it may be done in one day. This helps you to move exponentially faster on your objectives.

At the 44 min mark, Marcus gives his 3 steps to help someone in their entrepreneurial journey...

  1. Know exactly what your goals and objectives are.
  2. Ask yourself repeatedly if what you are doing in the moment is helping you reach those goals or holding you back?
  3. If what you are doing is not helping your reach your goals and objectives, how can you course correct to put your energy and effort into something that is?


Best Quote: “The body doesn’t tell the mind what to do, the mind tells the body what to do…”


Marcus's Misfit 3:

  1. Urgency – you don’t need more time, you need a deadline.
  2. Have tunnel vision and focus on your mission or objective.
  3. Work to be present in everything you do – beware multi-tasking.

0:00 / 0:00