Problems are Always Opportunities

Obstacles Be Gone

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In late March I was enjoying a fast paced game of hockey, zigged when I should have zagged, and exploded into the boards at high speed, breaking and separating two ribs, and partially tearing my pectoral muscle on my left side.

Busted Ribs Suck

Over the years, I have had numerous injuries from sports, including broken bones, torn ligaments and countless sprains, but this one was pretty painful because it hurt every time I took a deep breath or moved and made it virtually impossible to sleep at night due to the discomfort. All of a sudden, I couldn’t reach for things, couldnt’t pick up my kids, and couldn’t even get around without feeling like a knife was being wedged in my ribs.

It was a real bummer too, because I had just booked several outdoor trips for the summer, bought a new mountain bike to get back into off road cycling and was training hard for my first Spartan race which was scheduled for early June. All of this was going to have to be put on hold.

“With every obstacle that has happened to me in my life, my brain immediately says, ‘Where is the hidden blessing?’ In starting a business and growing a business, every day is learning how to manage obstacles.” Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx

When I went to the hospital to get checked out, I was told that at my age it would take about six to eight weeks to heal and about a year for there to be no lingering stiffness in my ribs.

Since I could hardly move around in the first week, let alone do my usual sports and exercise routines, I had a lot of time on my hands and I got to thinking about how I have always somehow been able to convert the setbacks in my life into wins. I have had business failures that became profitable learning experiences. I have had painful relationship breakups that opened the door for wonderful people and relationships to enter my life. Car accidents, missed flights lost opportunities…I could go on. Everything seems to work out for the better.

So what was the upside for me in this injury?

As is my habit, immediately after getting hurt I started thinking about how I would turn this to my advantage As it turns out there were several great outcomes.

  • I had nagging hamstring and lat muscle strains that would never seem to fully heal, but they healed up completely while I was out of action
  • Since I was able to ride my stationary bike, but not do much else, I improved my bike stamina with long rides
  • Took the opportunity to really feel my injury and then reminded myself to appreciate how lucky I am when I am able to be fully active

In the end everything healed up pretty quickly. Even though there is no cast for broken ribs or immobilization treatment, there is great blood flow to the rib area which promotes healing and I was rollerblading by about three weeks, back at hockey and running within 5 weeks and am now training hard again (although pushups and chinups are still a bit of a challenge).

There are no such thing as problems….just opportunities.

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