We all have those moments in life that we must choose. Is this event, situation, or interruption going to propel me on to the next stage? Or is this the time when I begin to plateau, or even worse, I let frustration set in and begin to give up? These moments come often and are a part of life. If we really think about it, they begin as early as walking. A child that begins to walk stands up and takes a step and falls, then that child has to either decide to get back up or give up. Thankfully, most of us chose at that point to get back up.

But as we get older, it becomes harder because the amount of tasks add up and the difficulty of getting back up increases. Or does it? What if it is our mindset that makes or breaks what we will face?

It has been a journey for me to shift my mindset and honestly that journey is still continuing. For me, it began when my Grandfather died. He was my fill in Dad. He represents the kind of man I want to be – a good husband, father and a hard worker. I looked up to him and admired him, and I felt he deserved to live. However, life interrupted that, and he got cancer and died. I struggled with this for a while and in some ways still do. But since then, I have sought out new perspectives that help focus on the right things and point me toward how these set backs can actually become what helps us move forward.

Here’s the thing. This idea has been popping up in several different places for me. I am amazed at what people can go through and still accomplish great things. Here are two examples you may want to spend some time exploring for yourself.
  1. On the podcast, This American Life episode 559 titled “Captain’s Log,”  one of the stories they highlight is about an amazing Girl Guide (Girls Scouts in the U.S.) group from Great Britain that journaled their experience in a Japanese Concentration Camp during World War II. If that doesn’t get you interested already, you can just skip to the next paragraph, otherwise click the link!
  2. My wife and I watch America’s Got Talent. This season is in the final episodes and there are several good singers this year. One of them is Brian Justin Crum, and he said if he hadn’t experienced bullying he wouldn’t be where he is right now. What? He took a negative experience and used it to propel him to a place that only he could go. The national stage of America’s Got Talent.

I think having a perspective like this on negative circumstances comes from a choice we make outside of the situation itself. We have to choose to have an outlook on life that is different then a lot of people have. Simply put it is a mindset of abundance verses scarcity. You can read more about this idea on Michael Hyatt’s blog, “Two Types of Thinkers…”

To put this in practical terms here are some ways that teenagers can start to implement this new mindset now. (Parents, these are insider tips so please have these conversations covertly rather than explicitly.)


  • You can always learn from what you are experiencing.
  • When faced with a difficult situation, intentionally look for the small, good thing and focus on that.
  • Don’t run from risk and negative encounters, but instead consider how that experience might help you be a better you.

What negative experience have you had that propelled you forward? Did something or someone help you see that experience differently?

Ricky Lewis is our Executive Director and has been with us since the beginning. As a father of 4, he seeks to help parents and their kids Live Life Better.