I see a mansion of opportunity. The path to greatness

Ever wonder how some people have the Midas touch – everything they touch turns to gold? It’s easy. They see things for what they can become, not what they are currently. We see what we want to see. What do you see in the picture above? An inner city house in dire need of some TLC? Perhaps the bars on the window made you aware if was not the best of neighborhoods.

Well, thankfully Eugene Brown, an ex-con-turned youth mentor, saw a mansion of opportunity that became the inspiration of the movie “Life of a King.” While incarcerated, Eugene learned the game of chess and its implications in life – Always think before you move! This dilapidated house served as the safe haven for his Big Chair Chess Club for at-risk inner city teens of Washington, DC and soon allowed these otherwise abandoned youth to realize they had an out. It was this house that developed Will Tahime, a chess prodigy with a drug addicted mother and her abusive boyfriends as role models.

Imagine if you approached every situation in life as an opportunity to do something others only dreamed of. Imagine if every life challenge was merely preparing you for something greater. Imagine if every setback and major disappointment in your life was a prerequisite for success. Would you view those situations differently? Would you make the most of those situations and continually ask yourself during those periods of struggle:

What am I learning? How will this prepare me for greater things?

My optimistic thinking has never led me stray. I always view every obstacle as a chance to grow, a chance to do something extraordinary, a chance to try something new and learn more about my fortitude.

I’m a believer it’s life’s biggest disappointments that present the greatest opportunities.

I am reminded of my own career path that left me and my family in dire straits. I was forced to relocate my family of 5 (3 kids under 5) because our neighborhood had become unsafe – shooting death, rapes (2) and numerous daytime break-ins. With no immediate in-state relocation option, we moved from Atlanta to Nashville to live with my mother-in-law who had 4 empty bedrooms. Trust me, this was not an ideal choice for a confident 36 year old male who prides himself on providing for his family. My employer agreed to support me during the relocation and building of a new market only to rescind the offer 2 months later. Our backs were against the wall: maxed out on credit cards, living paycheck to paycheck and overwhelmed with medical bills due to our new high deductible insurance plan. I’ve never been one to jump ship in pursuit of greener pastures, but this situation demanded I make a career change and a change I made (see article).

Within 2 years, I tripled my income and immediately established myself in a new industry. After the first 12 months, it became apparent to me that God had finally revealed his vocation for me – healthcare sales. The more I gave thanks for my blessings the more I realized he had been preparing me for this career all my life. It has been a crazy journey to say the least: bear trapper to private equity associate to CFO/co-owner of automotive distribution company to Multi-family real estate developer to Workers’ Comp insurance producer to Vice President for a Healthcare Revenue Cycle firm (Workers’ Comp reimbursement specialist). It would have been very easy to question my career path but I am one who believes opportunities are put in front of those who believe in themselves, take advantage of those opportunities and have the passion to endure the rocky roads. In hindsight, what better industry to make a career than one that had provided treatment to me for 32 years, receiving unfathomable care from strangers solely dedicated to helping me get back on my feet?

The frame of mind in which we evaluate life situations determines how we’ll react or not act. If you don’t believe me, research the scientific process RAS (reticular activating system) and how our brain can be programmed to channel more of what we want in life as opposed to what we don’t want. There is merit to the old adage of seeing the glass half full or half empty.

My glass is never half empty, it is always full.

Besides, what benefit is there to always seeing the glass half empty – depression, negativity, skepticism, and believing others are out to get you…

Guess what? If you truly believe that, your mind, and inadvertently your actions, will subconsciously reinforce that belief by magnifying the most minute of situations, truly making mountains out of every mole hill you encounter. As we know, perception is everything. To the contrary, imagine if you saw every obstacle as a chance to define your leadership. It is those who can lead in turbulent times that history remembers. Who doesn’t love the person at work who never complains and just somehow finds a way to get the job done? You can be that person but only if you choose to believe you have that ability to change the outcome of difficult situations.


Shay is an All American and World ranked triathlete, burn survivor with scars over 65% of his body and is a sought out national motivational speaker. Despite being told he’d never compete in sports again at the age of 8, Shay is living testament to “Anything is Possible”: 4x Ironman, 4x member of Team USA, ranked top 1% of Ironmen worldwide and has competed in 9 triathlon world championships, including the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. His mantra has always been to not merely be a “finisher” but to be a “competitor.” If you enjoyed this article, I encourage you to check out my other posts.


Next Post >