Opportunity in Adversity
This is the story of the greatest bank robber who ever lived.
It was originally told by a spiritual teacher named Philip Berg (without some of the colorful details you’ll get from me here).
The bank robber’s name was Elvis.
Elvis robbed more banks and stole more money than anyone else in history.
Plus a whole lot of diamonds and gold.
Every heist he pulled was more elaborate than all the ones that came before it.
He used tunnels, helicopters... all the stuff you see in the movies.
And he never got caught.
In fact, nothing bad ever happened to him...until—one day—he’s in the middle of the heist of the century, and he gets shot.
Elvis bleeds out on the floor and dies right there.
Then he leaves his body and gets transported to a tropical paradise.
It’s like a five star resort. And, there at the welcome desk, a really nice woman greets him and shows him around.
They’ve got everything you could possibly want—an endless buffet, a spa, fresh rose petals that appear in the toilet bowl after every flush...
Every room is the Presidential Suite.
She shows him to his room and asks (in a posh English accent),
“Is there anything else I can get you, sir?”
“Yeah, well, you know, I used to rob banks, and I kind of liked
doing it. Maybe you could arrange for me to rob a bank up here?”
“Oh, yes, absolutely. Which bank would you like to rob?”
He’s excited now.
He tells her the name of the bank that he’s always wanted to rob, but it was like a fortress, so he never could.
“Not a problem, sir.
How much money would you like in the vault?”
Now his eyes are bugging out of his head and he says,
“Uhh... two hundred million?”
She’s putting all this into her iPad, and she says,
“Two hundred mil it is. When would you like to do this?”
“Today, 2:00 p.m.?”
She hits a button on her iPad and says,
“You’re all set for 2:00 p.m. today.
There will be 200 million dollars waiting for you in the safe, which will be unlocked.
You can walk on in and pick it up.
The bank staff will help you carry it out the door.”
At this point, Elvis is shaking his head furiously.
“Nooooo, you’re missing the point.
I need to plan the heist.
Get around the alarm system. Take care of the security guys.
Crack the safe. Plan the getaway.”
Now she’s shaking her head.
“It doesn’t work that way here.
Now that you’re dead, things are a little different.
You just tell us what you want, and you’ll have it.”
Elvis is beside himself. He’s like,
“You don’t understand.
I’m the greatest bank robber who ever lived.
There’s no thrill in doing it this way.
What kind of racket do you guys have goin’ up here in Heaven?”
The woman gets an evil grin on her face, and she says to Elvis,
“Who said this was Heaven?”
Look, the greatest lie we tell ourselves is that we want life to be easy.
That we want to get what we want.
That we want to win.
Imagine if the Lakers won every single game, 100 percent of the time, no matter what.
That’d be cool...for a while.
But eventually, like after their 1000th win in a row, they wouldn’t even want to play.
And no one would want to watch.
So, do we want to win or not?
Well, yeah, we want to win. But we want it to be hard.
We want to be challenged.
We want it to be a struggle.
So then we can overcome all the forces against us, which is what makes victory sweet.
But we still think life should be easy—or at least easier than it is right now.
How does that make sense?
Listen, things may be really tough right now.
Life at the moment may not be what you want it to be.
It may be super hard.
But ask yourself this:
“Is it possible that all this is not happening to me, it’s happening for me?
Is it possible that, no matter how bad things are right now, wanting life to be easier—seeing it is better that way—is an illusion?
Is it possible that I’m going through this so I can grow into a better, stronger version of myself?
So I can come out the other side transformed—living on a new level?”
I see you shaking your head saying,
“No, this is hell! I can’t take it.”
Okay, I hear that. You feel like you’re standing there surrounded by flames. Fire everywhere.
And you think the heat is more than you can take.
Well, I’m here to tell you to walk towards the fire. Do not back away.
The fire is here to help you.
You just need to see it for what it is.
When you look at the flames, you see danger. You feel afraid.
But this fire is exactly what you need right now.
The question is...
How will you use it?
What will you do with it?
Are you gonna let it burn you?
The heat is so intense, it feels like it could kill you.
And—if you feed that thought in your mind—it might just do that.
A voice says,
“Hey, let’s run away from this.
Let’s get out of this fire.
Let’s go somewhere with a cool breeze... like Alaska.”
That voice tells you that escape is the solution.
But a quieter voice tells you to stay right where you are.
To stand your ground, in the middle of the inferno.
That voice tells you that it won’t burn you if you don’t let it.
That voice is your heart. And it knows the truth about fire.
It knows the fire can be a source of power… or source of destruction.
And the choice is yours.
You can choose to accept that the fire is here to transform you.
To take you to the next level.
You can choose to stand in the fire, knowing that you might get burned.
But that skin is going to heal.
New skin cells will take the place of the old ones.
And you’ll later discover that the fire remade you as a new, improved version of yourself.
You can choose to endure the pain of standing in the fire today, because you know that you will walk out of the fire as a new person tomorrow.
Knowing this can change how you see fire.
It can give you the ability to feel the heat but not the burn.
You can make the choice today, right now, to change how you see the challenges you’re facing in life.
No matter how bad things are, here’s what you can say to yourself:
“This is happening for me.
Life is hard right now for a reason.
I will see this adversity as an opportunity.
I will not only endure the heat, but I will do whatever it takes to harness the power of the fire and use it to break through.
Because I know, in my heart, that this will lead me to a beautiful place.”
This article is an excerpt of the forthcoming book, Your Best Life: Tactics, Tools and Insights to Create a Life of Fulfillment, Joy and Abundance, by Mike X — to be released on March 14, 2023.
Originally published on Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.