074. Seeing the Gift of Adversity with Marcus Aurelius Anderson

The Do a Day Podcast from Bryan Falchuk

Marcus Aurelius Anderson is an Bestselling Author, TEDx Speaker and International Keynote Speaker, High Performance Mindset Coach for Leaders, CEO’s and entrepreneurs. He’s also the host of the #1 New and Noteworthy podcast “Conscious Millionaire Epic Achiever” show. 

While preparing to deploy with the U.S. Army, Marcus suffered a severe spinal injury that left him paralyzed. 

After dying on the operating table twice, the surgeons saved his life, but told him he’d never walk again. 

Having no other option, Marcus started doing some brutally honest soul searching, looking for the lesson to be learned from his injury. Once he started seeing his Adversity as a gift instead of a curse, something miraculous began to happen…

Marcus now speaks, writes, inspires and coaches others to overcome their own Adversities to actualize their personal definition of success in business and every area of life. 

Key Points from the Episode with Marcus Aurelius Anderson:

  • We opened in the middle of a conversation about Marcus’s name, which belonged to a Roman emperor, which set up a very high bar to aspire to.
  • That’s something that drives him rather than makes him feel inadequate. That’s a theme for the conversation.
  • Adversity is at the heart of what Marcus talks about, and it’s something he sees as a gift.
  • That view is of course born from his life experience, and his specific experience with extreme adversity.
  • Not just a gift, but adversity is also an inevitability for all of us. That makes the choice of how we relate to it that much more important.
  • The choice we have in each moment of adversity is whether we attach emotion to it.
  • Is this an opportunity to react or be empathetic and human to the person who is challenging us.
  • While this can be hard in the moment, the key is to practice and focus on it in moments free of adversity so we are more trained for when these moments arise.
  • Marcus’s first hand understanding started when we joined the military at 38, which is very old for their standards.
  • We talked about priorities, which is what we pour our time and focus into. We often say things are priorities yet we don’t treat them that way.
  • This was the situation with his marriage. He prioritized his studies to become a chiropractor, so his marriage fell apart. This started a path to need a change and a stronger sense of purpose and service, which led him to the military.
  • The tendency we all have is to put as much distance between ourselves and the adversity as possible. Instead, why not try to find out what’s going on and how to keep it from happening again?
  • As his training pre-deployment continued, he started to have issues with his grip and nerves. It kept progressing, and Marcus kept denying it was real.
  • It culminated one morning when he was woken up by someone at his door, and he couldn’t get out of bed to let them in. He was completely paralyzed from the neck down.
  • Without knowing it, Marcus summed up the whole idea of Do a Day.
  • He said, “If you had a great or bad day yesterday, today is the day you get to continue. You get to decide and dictate how you live your life from this moment on, and you choose that moment over and over again.”
  • We talked about the power of being present, and how it can allow people to be more productive while also being able to focus on what we say are our priorities better than we have been.
  • A key to all of this is finding your true motivation, something I totally agree with. Instead of something fleeting or material, focus on something deeper that truly moves you and is enduring.
  • He had spinal surgery after waking up paralyzed, which was fraught with complications, delays and difficulties. He died on the operating table, and was brought back to news that he was lucky to be alive but shouldn’t expect more.
  • He realized he was really stuck with the situation. He couldn’t just ignore it like he had been ignoring the growing nerve and strength issues before his paralysis.
  • He kept thinking the next day, he would be able to feel things, and when it wouldn’t come, he would be livid.
  • It helped him to see how we assume our abilities will be there – our success, physical capabilities, relationships, etc. Marcus learned first hand that this isn’t true.
  • He asks people, if you woke up paralyzed tomorrow morning, what would you wish you had in your life? This question can help people refocus on those things they claim are priorities.
  • When we think about losing things, we realize we may look back on what we think are struggles today, and appreciate the growth they can afford us.
  • Everything we do should have purpose, intention and growth in it. If we steer our own bus, it can.
  • We talked about gratitude, and how people often just focus on the things they like. That means that we are only grateful for half (or something like that) of the things in our life. That’s leaving so much opportunity for more gratitude, if we choose to see the things to be thankful for in the tougher moments we don’t like as much.
  • For Marcus, it took three months before he had sensation in his extremities and a year before he was able to walk fully.
  • Throughout that period, he had suicidal thoughts, but because of his paralysis, he couldn’t act on it. Today, his mindset is what would save him.
  • One thing he’s been able to draw from is his martial arts training around the Zen mind. One aspect of it is to remove yourself from the situation and try to look at it holistically. This helps remove the feeling of being hurt that can keep us from seeing potential and opportunity.
  • A week after shifting his mindset is when he started to regain feeling in his hand.
  • He also saw the similarity in facing a bigger, stronger opponent. If you only fight against them, they will win. If you turn into them and move with them momentarily, you can gain an advantage.
  • In his own struggle to recover, he saw the same dynamic. He was fighting what was going on hard and angrily. Instead, he tried submitting to it and going with it after three months, and that allowed him to change the dynamic, see the benefit and turn things around.


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