Turning Challenges Into Opportunities

CRS 42 | Turning Challenges Into Opportunities


We’re all faced with challenges throughout our lives. It could be as minor as deciding where you want to go for dinner, but it’s always something that makes you feel uncomfortable. The way we face those challenges will dictate our behavior and our outcomes. Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. They’re different for every individual because everyone else is different and everyone has their own level of comfort and discomfort with certain things. Carolyn discusses how you can face and turn your challenges into opportunities, whatever those challenges are for you.

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Turning Challenges Into Opportunities

Things had been pretty hectic for me, but I’m the kind of person who loves that. I love to be moving all the time and some people think I’m crazy, but that’s how I am. I can’t stand it when things aren’t happening. When things seem a little too calm, I’ve got to spice it up, then it’s time to shake things up. You move around and you get things moving. I had an exciting week after working hard to be able to present on the TEDx stage. My dream finally came true. I did a TEDx. It’s so exciting.

For those of you who don’t know what that means, put it this way, it is every speaker’s dream. You get to do fifteen minutes on the TEDx stage. As soon as it is posted, I will let all of you know where you can listen to my talk. In fact, I’m going to talk a little bit about the topic that I talked about. Now I can check it off my list. TEDx speech, done. I flew to Texas for a charity event. I work with three different charities. All of which are linked to helping kids learn and grow, helping kids fulfill their dreams and helping kids find some joy when they’ve been dealt with tough hands.

It was Cheer 4 Your Life. This charity is run by my Survivor sister, Missy Payne. She’s been on my show before. We raised money to help kids who can’t afford the training that they need to excel in whatever their passion is. Some of the kids are dancers, skiers, singers and cheerleaders, whatever their passion is. We have seen kids that we’ve helped get scholarships into college or be able to try out for the Olympics. That’s pretty exciting. It’s so rewarding to see these kids blossom. The charity event that we run is raising money and helping these kids fulfill their dreams. It’s very exciting. For anyone who wants to donate to this charity, you can go to www.C4YL.com.

Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right. Click To Tweet

I wanted to talk about turning challenges into opportunities. This is a topic that’s probably on the minds of all of us every single day. Every day we’re faced with some kind of a challenge. It could be as minor as where do we want to go to dinner and I shouldn’t say that’s minor. How many of you have sat around for an hour discussing with your spouse where to go for dinner? “You decide.” “No, you decide.” It goes on and on. This is just a trivial discussion, but the point is that someone has to make a decision. Someone has to decide what to do. When I think of challenges, I think of ones that make me uncomfortable. Something that I don’t do every day. In that respect, I wouldn’t feel 100% confident in my ability.

Challenges Come In All Shapes And Sizes

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. They’re different for every individual because everyone else is different. Everyone has their own level of comfort with certain things and discomfort with other things. It’s not the same from one person to the other. We all have different skills. We all have different abilities. My husband is very creative. He can draw. I can’t even draw a circle. If I have a challenge in art, I’m uncomfortable. That makes me feel less confident. The key is knowing how to challenge yourself. The key is figuring out what you need to feel more comfortable in certain situations.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

The key to succeeding is to understand that you get to decide how you act. You get to decide how you will face a challenge, whatever that challenge is for you. You get to decide whether you will allow that challenge to turn into either an obstacle or a roadblock that will stop you in your tracks or whether you successfully turn that challenge into an opportunity. It all comes down to your mindset, our own thoughts about what we’re facing. The issue is that we all have these preconceived notions on certain things. We can talk ourselves into or out of something based on our own preconceived notion. Our mind is powerful and it links back to the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy. What is the self-fulfilling prophecy? It says that our minds are powerful that when we believe something strongly, whether it’s positive or negative, we make it come true. Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Think about that statement. Your mind is powerful that your thoughts about what the challenge is will steer you in the direction to making it come true. That is why it’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy because we alone have that power.

CRS 42 | Turning Challenges Into Opportunities
Turning Challenges Into Opportunities: We have the power to decide how we show up. If we train our minds to see things differently, we’re giving ourselves a chance to succeed.


Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. Consider this, if you constantly tell yourself that you are a horrible test taker, then you’re giving yourself permission to bum the test. Every single time you tell yourself you’re not good at it when you don’t do well on a test, you rationalize it by simply saying, “I’m not a good test taker,” because you believe that to be true. Can you think of a time when you told yourself you couldn’t do something and then you couldn’t do it? I can think of many instances when I allowed myself to give up because I believed in my mind that I couldn’t do it. That’s why I can say we have the power to decide how we show up. If we train our minds to see things differently, at least we’re giving ourselves a chance to succeed.

We’re going to be talking about doing that. What does it take to turn challenges into opportunities? You get to decide. The concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy has been studied for decades. In fact, the study that was done was years ago, and this study is still discussed. Teachers in a school were told that certain kids had higher IQs than others. These teachers had this preconceived notion that those kids would do better. The fact that the teacher believed that this subset of kids had greater ability, they now gave them harder work. They expected more from those kids than the other kids because they had these expectations. The teachers’ actions required more out of those kids.

The result was now this set of kids believe in themselves that they had greater abilities. They believe that they should push themselves harder because they had this higher intellect. That’s where they were told by the teachers all the time. When you think of it that way, other people’s beliefs also affect our own beliefs about ourselves. Our own beliefs about ourselves affect our actions. What actions do we take? It’s this cycle. In that study, that subset of kids where the teachers felt like they had higher IQ scores scored better than the ones that were thought to be average, even though they all had the same IQ score and they all had the same capability. The ones that believed themselves to be higher got higher. You are who you think you are. Our beliefs in ourselves are so powerful that we make things come true.

Our belief in ourselves and our own abilities are crucial to success. Click To Tweet

Positive Mindset Versus Limiting Beliefs

When you think of it that way, we can do one of two things. You can have a positive mindset and give yourself the ability to succeed or you can have this limiting belief about yourself which causes you not to take action and therefore you get poor results. We can all psych ourselves out. Have you ever played softball or baseball and you’re up against the best pitcher in the league? You watched the last five batters strike out. Now it’s your turn. You get to the plate and in your mind, you think to yourself, “This guy is so good. He struck out the last five batters.” You’re already telling yourself that you’re about to strike out. You’re allowing that to happen because you believe it to be true.

Let’s say you hear the coach talking to the batter after you. He says something like, “When you get up, it’s going to be two outs.” Meaning that the coach already thinks that you are going to strike out. You lose your self-confidence. You believe the same thing as the coach and so when you get to that plate, what do you do? You strikeout. You rationalize it by saying, “He struck out the last six batters, he was going to strike me out as well.” That’s the self-fulfilling prophecy. Our beliefs are so powerful that we directly or indirectly caused them to come true. Our beliefs link directly to our behavior. For me, this is crystal clear because it happened to me on day nineteen when I was in the jungle competing on Survivor. We were down to one tribe and we were competing in our first immunity challenge. I was the oldest competitor on the island during my season competing against people 30 years younger than me.

The challenge was that we had to hang onto a pole for as long as we can. The last person on the pole wins the challenge. It sounds simple but not so much. We’re on the pole for about ten minutes and then people started dropping off. I was pretty happy about that and around the 45-minute mark, it was down to three of us. A girl 30 years younger than me and a boy 27 years younger than me. Just the three of us were hanging on that pole. All of a sudden, it starts to rain to spice it up a bit. Now, not only are we hanging on the pole, but we’re hanging on the slippery pole at that. Soon the rain stopped and the girl fell off. It was down to two of us. The guy I was competing against was the best athlete on the show for our season. He was absolutely fabulous at everything. When all of a sudden something changed for me, something in my head switched over. I looked over at him and all I could see was a winner. I told myself that he was going to win this challenge. I told myself that he was never going to drop off the pole. My mind shifted from self-confidence to self-doubt just like that. I no longer saw myself as being successful in this challenge.

CRS 42 | Turning Challenges Into Opportunities
Turning Challenges Into Opportunities: Think positive thoughts. Consistently tell yourself that you can do this.


Even though for about one hour I hadn’t moved my position on the pole. I had held strong that entire time watching everyone else struggle. I shifted my position and at that moment, I fell off. The self-fulfilling prophecy. I believed that he would win and he did. My behavior changed. I lost my confidence on that pole. I told myself that I wasn’t going to win the challenge and I told myself that he was going to be the winner. I believe that to be true and it came true. That challenge haunts me to this day because when I looked over after he had won the challenge, I saw that his chest was bloody from hanging on and sliding against the pole. He was not going to be able to hang on much longer and I could have won that challenge, but I told myself I couldn’t do it and I gave up. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right. You get to decide how you will show up. You get to decide what you truly believe to be true. The only way to succeed is to believe in yourself and you’ve heard me say it before, “Believe, commit, achieve.”

That is the true formula for success. When my mind shifted, everything changed. Our belief in ourselves and our own abilities are crucial to success. It must start from within ourselves. There are many instances where other people don’t believe in you and that causes problems for all of us. It must start within each of us to believe in ourselves. It must begin with how we see ourselves. How do we see ourselves? How do we ensure that we see ourselves the way we want to be seen? You must have positive thinking. You must begin to see things from a positive perspective. For some people, that’s easy.

Train Your Mind Muscle

Some people are glass half-full people, meaning they see things from a positive perspective as a rule of thumb for themselves. Some other people are more skeptical. They see things that can go wrong and they may appear to be a bit more negative to other people. The point is we can train our minds to see things from a positive perspective. It’s like going to the gym. You train your muscles to lift heavier weights the more you exercise. Why not do the same thing with your mind muscle? Train it to think more positive thoughts. How do we do that? There are a number of different techniques. The one that works for me is to think positive thoughts, to consistently tell yourself that you can do this. When I fell off that pole, I was telling myself right then and there that I could not win.

You can't change the past. You can only change the future. Click To Tweet

One day I was at the gym and I was talking to some of the people, friends of mine, and they’re talking about doing this half marathon. The farthest that I have ever run at that point was about 6.2 miles. This race would be double that. When they asked me if I wanted to do the race with them, I said yes. At that point in time, I hadn’t even run a little bit in years. Let the training begin. I got on the treadmill that day and started running. I was running with a partner. We were training together, but he was in much better shape than I was. I didn’t want to look like a wuss so I kept on going. I was on the treadmill wanting to stop so badly but I didn’t.

I kept telling myself that I could do it. I kept saying in my mind that I got this. I didn’t even know what I was doing but it seemed to be working. That day I ran for 45 minutes straight after not running for years. I continued to train and within three months, I completed my first half marathon. If you ever asked me before if I could do a half marathon, I would have said no. Why would anyone want to do a half marathon? Why do we want to run for 13.1 miles? The most I had run was 6.2 and now I was capable of running 13.1. That’s because I pushed myself beyond what I would have considered my limit. I did that by believing in myself and by telling myself over and over again that I can do this, that I will do this and I got this. It also helped that the people I was training with believed that I could do it as well. They were supportive and we all were in it together. It’s so powerful. We all have the ability to train our minds. We just have to start doing it.

You are who you think you are. Those positive thoughts can change the way you act. Your behavior is directly linked to your beliefs. In the example of the teachers, we saw that when other people believe in you, it helps to boost your own opinions of yourself. Therefore, it has a positive effect on how you personally feel about yourself. Other people play an important role in your beliefs as well. When you’re thinking of ways in which to change your mindset, step one starts with thinking positive thoughts. That means you must eliminate all the negative words from your vocabulary. The ones like can’t, don’t, won’t. One of my favorites is also try because when you say try and then you don’t succeed, you’re giving yourself the ability to say, “I tried. It didn’t work but I tried.” You eliminate all of those words, exchange those words for can or, “I will do.” Those are powerful words that you’re conscious about. Think about it. If you change your vocabulary to these powerful words, your self-confidence changes. The way you look at things changes.

CRS 42 | Turning Challenges Into Opportunities
Turning Challenges Into Opportunities: If that goal is important to you, then you will make it happen.


Be conscious about the words you choose and how you’re thinking. By doing this all the time, you will see a change in how you operate. It’s like this subliminal messaging that helps us. This is all about thinking those positive thoughts, finding things to be positive about. We can all find many things to be positive about if we looked for them. Don’t get caught up in, “I should have done this or I should have done that.” What I always say is, “Don’t should on yourself.” You can’t change the past. You can only change the future. Find a way to change the future for the best by thinking positively. We can achieve more by saying positive things to ourselves every single day we begin to believe it. I know it sounds trivial but take out a pen and take out a pad. Write down your intention every day, your positive thoughts, your positive words and you will begin to see a transformation within yourself. We’re turning challenges into opportunities. You are who you think you are and it all starts within ourselves.

Surround Yourself With Positivity

Another aspect that is as important is the people who you surround yourself with. I’m sure you’ve heard this saying before, you become the five people who you surround yourself with. Look at those people. Are they the people that you want to be? Do they have the same values that you have? Do they portray the kind of person that you want to be? Do they have similar goals to your goals? If the answer to those questions is yes, you are surrounding yourself with the people who can help you achieve your goals. If the answer to those questions is no, then you need to take a step back and look at the people that you’re surrounding yourself with. Those people are not going to help you get there. When you surround yourself with the positivity, you will see it demonstrated to you every single day because they are positive. You begin to take on those same roles. You feel like they feel. You become used to it. Conversely, if you surround yourself with people that see the world differently, that aren’t happy, that complain about all the things all the time, you will begin to see and feel those same things.

Both positivity and negativity are contagious. When you’re around someone who is positive, don’t you want to be the same way? I do. I love it. If you heard that the world sucks every single day, nothing is fair, and bad things are going to happen, you begin to believe it. You begin to wait for it to happen to you. Then when something happens, you say to yourself, “Bad things happen to me all the time.” If you take that same scenario and think of it from a positive perspective, even when something happens, you see it differently. You see it as a learning experience. You find out what you were supposed to learn from it and move on. You essentially turn a challenge into an opportunity. We’re all faced with challenges throughout our lives. The way we face those challenges will dictate our behavior and our outcomes.

A positive mindset gives you the ability to look for different ways to handle situations. Click To Tweet

A positive mindset gives you the ability to look for different ways to handle situations. You’re open to new ideas. You’re open to alternate ways of thinking. You’re always looking for all the possibilities that are out there and you’re expecting things to get better. When you train your mind to think in this way, that’s when things happen. You can get through it and move on. You move forward. If something bad happens, you learn from it. How do you know if you have a positive mindset? Here are some questions to ask yourself. Do you expect positive outcomes from yourself? Meaning if you’re going to do something, is the first thought will you succeed or not? How do you inspire yourself to do new things? What’s your process for doing something that you haven’t done before? Is your first thought you can do it? Do you look at things that don’t go well and figure out why?

Do you learn from those experiences? Do you see them as blessings in disguise because you are able to learn something from them? Do you dwell on problems or look for solutions? When you think about those questions, how did you answer them? Where did you fall? Do you have a positive mindset and a positive outlook on life in general? If you answered yes, that’s what I’m talking about. That’s exactly where you want to be. If you answered no, it is not too late. You have the ability to change your mindset. You just have to want it bad enough to make things happen, to make the choice to choose, to do what it takes every day to change your mind, to train your muscle, to think positive thoughts and it’s not out of your reach. You can do it.

Believe, Commit, Achieve

I always say, “Believe, commit, achieve.” Step one, believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to believe that you can do something and once you believe, step two is commit. What that means is that you must do whatever it takes to make it happen. If that goal is important to you, then you will make it happen. That’s why I believe is important. It has to be that important to you in order for you to take action. I shared that when I gave up, when I allowed my mind to go from self-confidence to self-doubt in the blink of an eye, I saw the results. I failed.

One of the things about positivity that we talked about is the ability to learn from obstacles that you have put in front of you. Things that challenge you and turning those challenges into opportunities. I want to give you an example of what that looks like. An example of how it happened to me. I had lost the challenge on Survivor and I was so upset with myself because in my heart, I believed after the fact that I could have won that challenge if I didn’t allow my negative mind to take over. I replayed it over and over in my head. I thought to myself, “What can I learn from this? What do I have to do differently next time to make sure that it never happens again?” I began to think those positive thoughts and tell myself every day that I can win this game. It doesn’t matter who is here, I’m as good as any of them. That’s what I thought from that day on.

A few challenges later, we were competing girls against the girls, guys against the guys. There were three girls left in the game and one of the girls I was in an alliance with and the other one was trying to vote me out. One of the two of us had to win. The challenge was that we had to hold onto this rod that was attached to a weight. The weight was 25% of our body weight. If we lost our grip on the rod, the weight would drop and we would be out of the challenge. The challenge began and we’re about ten minutes into the challenge and my alliance member drops out. Now it’s down to two of us, me and the girl who’s trying to vote me out.

I was focused on this challenge. I kept thinking to myself, “You’ve got this, Carolyn. You’re going to win this challenge. There is nothing that will stand in your way. You will not drop out. You will not lose your grip. You are the winner.” Those were the thoughts in my head. It was very different from before. I wasn’t looking at my competitor. I was only focused on myself. I didn’t have control over my opponent, but I did have control over myself and my thoughts and that’s the difference. I stayed focus on my goal to hold on for dear life and not move an inch. All of a sudden, my alliance members are saying to me, “Mama C, she’s dropping. You’ve got this.” I was in the zone and totally focused when my opponent dropped out. My rod hadn’t moved at all and I won that challenge. That night I didn’t have to worry about getting voted out, I was safe. Those positive thoughts, that belief in myself, that focus that I had on the goal was what made me win that challenge.

Turning challenges into opportunities. I’m sure that we can all think of examples, both positive and negative, when we allowed the self-fulfilling prophecy to happen. Whether we believed we could or we believed we couldn’t, it came true. Having a positive mindset helps us achieve more than we ever thought possible. It helps us to relieve this stress because we’re not worrying about what if we fail. It helps us to see things differently and look for the endless possibilities that are out there. Positivity attracts positivity. We talked about turning challenges into opportunities. Challenge is something that we look at to push ourselves.

We have this choice to see things as either an obstacle or an opportunity. An obstacle is something that blocks us and stops us from moving forward. We want to make sure that that doesn’t happen. Opportunity is something that we can learn from. It gives us the ability to do something different to advance or succeed. Our goal is to turn challenges into opportunities and it all starts within ourselves. We talked about the world around you will change the more positive the environment is and when you begin to see things from a different perspective. You will find yourself not comfortable with those negative people. You want to share your time with people that bring you joy, that look for happiness and to have this positive effect on you.

It all starts with your ability to find the positive in all that you do, to change your mindset, and to think positive thoughts. We talked about other people’s beliefs and how they can affect your own beliefs. How the way we see ourselves causes us to act in a certain way and it links back to that self-fulfilling prophecy. You are who you think you are. You believe something so strongly that we cause it to come true. I gave you examples of when I had self-doubt and caused myself to fail and when I had self-confidence and caused myself to succeed. We all have that power.

We all get to decide how we show up and how we act the thoughts that we train our minds to think every single day. Give yourself a chance to succeed by having that positive mindset, by thinking positive thoughts, by using those positive words, by eliminating the self-doubt and those negative words from your vocabulary. Those are the steps that you can take to strengthen your mind muscle. If you go to the gym and you lift weights, your muscles get bigger. If you think positive thoughts and you have these positive words, your mindset will change. It’s all up to you. You get to decide who shows up.

I hope this helps you on your journey to this road of endless possibilities that are ahead of you. We will have another great show for you right here at the Carolyn Rivera Show. This show is all about you, the audience. Together, we can talk about the things that you feel are important and things that you can take away and use. If you have any specific topics that you’re interested in, let me know. Follow me on Instagram, @CarolynRivera14. Send me a message. My focus is all about watching you succeed. Go to my website at CarolynJRivera.com for more content and all of my previous shows will be there. Helping you achieve more than you ever thought possible is my specialty. Believe, commit, achieve. That is the secret sauce that you’re looking for.

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