Find the Gifts in Your Adversity with Marcus Aurelius Anderson

Episode 279

Find the Gifts in Your Adversity with Marcus Aurelius Anderson

Adversity is an inevitable part of life, and the reality is that all of us have more adversity that we will experience in our future. So it’s vitally important that we learn how to embrace our adversity and turn it into an advantage.

Personally, I view adversity as a GIFT and often our greatest opportunity for GROWTH, and I’m living proof. 

My two greatest adversities (being hit head on by a drunk driver, breaking 11 bones, and dying for 6 minutes – at age 20… and then being diagnosed with cancer and given a 30% chance of surviving – at age 37) were two of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received, because both enabled me to learn, grow, and become the person I am today. 

That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to my podcast guest today, Marcus Aurelius Anderson. He is the author of The Gift of Adversity, TedX speaker, US Army veteran, lifelong martial artist, and high-performance mindset coach for leaders, companies, CEOs, and entrepreneurs. 

Today, Marcus joins the podcast and we talk about how you can find the gifts in your adversity—no matter what happens to you—and turn your adversity into an advantage.

Marcus suffered a severe spinal injury while preparing to deploy, died twice on the operating table, and was told he would never walk again. With no other options, Marcus began to see the lessons learned from his injury – and when he saw adversity as a gift, something miraculous began to happen.


  • The mindset shift that pulled Marcus from three months of deep depression to sharing his powerful message with people after his injury. 
  • How Marcus helps people take emotion out of tough situations, learn from their experiences, and break out of the victim mindset. 
  • Why Marcus believes that adversity is a compass – and why the path of least resistance rarely leads us anywhere.



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COMMENT QUESTION: What is your big takeaway? Write it in the comments below.


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Hal: Here we go. Goal achievers, welcome to the Achieve Your Goals Podcast and this is your host and your friend, Hal Elrod, and I have a question for you today. Have you ever dealt with adversity? That’s kind of a rhetorical question because we’ve all dealt with adversity and we have more adversity on the way. Sometimes when I’m giving a keynote speech, I’ll talk about that. I’ll kind of a joke and say, “Look, we’ve all had these rock bottoms in our lives, these moments of adversity that are beyond we’ve ever imagined and we question ourselves and we question God and we question the purpose of life and we question the fairness of what we’re dealing with at the time.” And I said, “We both dealt with those rock bottoms and here’s the deal. More on the way.” Right? Like that’s not the most inspirational thing is, well, you’ve got more adversity coming your way so be ready for it. And there’s the old adage, “It’s not what happens to you, but it is what you do with what happens to you,” and I do believe that adversity is a gift. I think it’s our greatest opportunity for growth. 


And that is why I’m really excited to introduce you and have a conversation here with my guest today. In fact, my guest was introduced by another guest, a former guest of The Achieve Your Goals Podcast, JV Crum III, and I will say that when JV made this introduction, it was with the highest praise you can ever introduce somebody. And our guest today, Marcus Aurelius Anderson he is an author, he’s a TEDx speaker, a keynote speaker, US Army veteran, lifelong martial artist and high-performance mindset coach for companies, leaders, CEOs, and entrepreneurs and his book is called appropriately, The Gift of Adversity. And while preparing to deploy with the US Army, Marcus suffered a severe spinal injury that left him paralyzed and after dying on the operating table twice, the surgeon saved his life but told him he’d never walk again. And as you might imagine, he and I both died, we both have been told we’d never walk again, so I feel like kindred spirits here with Marcus and I. 


But having no other option, Marcus started doing some brutally honest soul-searching looking for the lesson to be learned from his injury. And 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 every area of life. And it is my great pleasure to introduce you to my new friend, Marcus Aurelius Anderson. How are you doing, my friend?




Marcus: Oh, Hal, thank you so much. It is such an honor to be on here. As we spoke before, I have the utmost respect for you and I love what you’ve done with your messaging, the things that happened to you like you said you turned into something positive and again JV Crum was incredibly, incredibly excited to introduce us because he had nothing but amazing things to say about you as well so thank you for having me on here today, my friend. 


Hal: Awesome. Yeah. You are welcome and it really is my pleasure. And for the audience, just to be clear, this is Marcus and I first time meeting so it’s kind of like if we were meeting at a coffee shop and you get to eavesdrop on the conversation which is fun. A lot of times, Marcus, I have my friends on here or people that I know, colleagues, friends that I have some sort of a relationship with and to me it’s really kind of nice and refreshing to build a relationship in public or eavesdropping on conversation. So, I like to start kind of early on like what were you like growing up as a kid and as a team? How would you describe yourself? 


Marcus: I grew up in the Midwest so I guess I would say that I was sort of, I wouldn’t say shy. I mean, I was outgoing to an extent. I wasn’t the most popular kid, but I also wasn’t a person who didn’t have any friends. A big part of my life was based on martial arts. I started doing martial arts at 11 so very much that idea, of those concepts of hard work, discipline, humility, honor, respect. All those things really were kind of built to the fabric of me when I was growing up. We grew up before the Internet. I’m 47 so I’m not a young guy. So, growing up in Oklahoma, you can either try to do things to educate yourself or you could go out and get into trouble so for me reading a lot, and then martial arts was something that really kind of shaped me to the person that you’re speaking to today. 


Hal: Got it. Now, what martial art did you practice?


Marcus: I started out with taekwondo and karate because that’s what they had around that time in Oklahoma that I’m a certified instructor under Bruce Lee’s protégé, his name is Guru Dan Inosanto, and Jeet Kune Do and all the arts that he teaches and I also have black belts in different martial art systems as well but that’s the one that really seems to resonate with me the most. Bruce Lee’s idea of absorbing what is useful, discarding what is useless, and adding what is specifically your own is sort of a modern-day mantra for entrepreneurs that I think it’s perfect to live your life by. 


Hal: Beautiful. Well, I have to ask you because I’m a huge fan. Are you a fan of mixed martial arts and the UFC specifically?


Marcus: I am. I find it entertaining but it is only one kind of sliver of the pie when it comes to martial arts. Bruce Lee was very much into that kind of idea even before it became popular so it’s neat to see how things evolved in front of our eyes. 


Hal: Yeah. I think I get the gist of like the spirit of martial arts is often overshadowed by the entertainment aspect and the business aspect of UFC and what they’re trying to do to run their business, but I get that. If you look back at your life, what was the first meaningful goal that you remember achieving? And what age and what was that goal? 


Marcus: For me, it was the notion of being ranked in the martial arts system. So, in taekwondo, for example, being able to go from white to yellow, yellow to green all the way up to black belt, that to me was a big achievement because there was so much that I put into it and there was a lot of hard work required in that. That was where I got that idea of understanding that adversity is opportunity and it’s a hardship but if we look at it as a way for us to improve and get stronger then that’s very much what I did. I would do the kids’ class when I was 11 and then when I was 12, they would allow me to do the kids class and then the adults class. So, I felt very honored to even have those kinds of opportunities. 


Hal: And just so I have a frame of reference, you started martial arts at 11. How long did it take to your first black belt? Like I’d love to hear that. 


Marcus: It took me eight years. 


Hal: And I think it’s so important for the audience to hear how like the amount of dedication and I imagine during the class every at least once a week, every week? 


Marcus: I was going three times a week. I would go there as often as they would let me. They kind of have to throw me out when they had to close the place down. 


Hal: So, three. I mean, you guys imagine that. Three times a week for eight years plus you’re practicing I’m sure at home. I love the adage that it takes 10 years to be an overnight success. I said that once in an interviewer or I was interviewing or vice versa but the gentleman I was interviewing he came back and he said, “That begs the question, what are you willing to commit 10 years of your life to, to see that success?” And it’s like such a great question because most people it’s like, “Ah, I tried this for a few months. It didn’t work. Now I’m doing something else. If this doesn’t work, I’ll do something else. If this doesn’t work, I’ll do something.” Right? Like there are people just keep shifting gears and switching from one thing to another, never really dedicating themselves for the length of time it takes to achieve great success. I mean, that’s such an important lesson is that you got to commit to do something over and over and over and over again for an extended period of time, which is often many, many, many years. 


I tried to instill that with my son, Halston, that I talk about practice. You got to practice, practice, practice the best in the world. They practiced consistently over and over for many years. So, talk about this radical adversity preparing for deployment in the U.S. Army, suffering a serious spinal injury that left you paralyzed. What happened? 


Marcus: So, what happened for me was as we were preparing to deploy, long story short, I ruptured a disc in my neck and that was a disc that was in my neck. It was at the same vertebral level as of Christopher Reeve where he was paralyzed from. So, when the disc ruptured, it pushed into my spinal cord so powerfully that there was no communication between my brainstem and the rest of my body, and they rushed me to the hospital. They immediately did the MRI going with a knife, get a bunch of metal in my neck, and much like just like you, I flatlined twice. So, when I woke up in the ICU, they had a very congratulatory tone with their voice. They said, “Hey, the good news is you’re alive. The bad news is this is what you’re left with and we don’t even want you to even think about trying to recover your ability to use your hands or to walk again because we know that that’s just going to lead to a lot of anger and depression. So, just start wrapping your mind around this.” But just like yourself, I didn’t really believe that. 


Unfortunately, for me, I did go through about three months of just deep depression. I was literally suicidal, but I couldn’t even act upon it because of my physicality. So, for me, that’s what I did was with a name like mine, you know, between martial arts and reading philosophy growing up, I would hear all these kind of tunes that would come into my mind that would tell me that, “If this is endurable then endure it and there’s an opportunity within this. You’re just not seeing it,” and it’s easy to say that when you’re not the person lying in the bed. 


Hal: Sure.


Marcus: But when you’re the one there and you hear these things, they just sound like a bunch of flower garbage. It doesn’t sound like it’s pragmatic at all. And that’s when I started doing that really, really intense deep dive into myself to see, okay, where is this leading me and how can I better use this to my advantage?


Hal: What age did that happen?


Marcus: It happened at 40. I turned 40 years old and then broke, divorced, bedridden, and paralyzed, trying to figure out what am I going to do next.


Hal: So, this was seven years ago. 


Marcus: Yes.


Hal: I don’t know why in my head I was thinking maybe when you were 20. Probably because it happened when I was 20 but yeah. Wow. Okay. So, just seven years ago. What was the transition for you like? What was the mindset shift to go from three months of deep depression and being suicidal to now obviously you’re sharing this powerful message with people all around the world? What was the shift? What was the defining moment? How did you make that transition? 


Marcus: Yeah. That was the hardest part was coming to a point where I had to figure out that there had to be something to be learned from this and I couldn’t figure out what it was. For three months just lying in the bed, you have a lot of time to think about all these things, obviously, and for me, I had to take myself out of the equation and say, “Okay, this isn’t about me,” and I asked myself very brutally, “Okay. Did anybody, anybody get any sort of benefit from this?” And the thing that I thought about was if I had been deployed in Afghanistan when this happened, I would’ve put my team in danger because for every man who is injured, it takes two men just to pull him to safety. So, that means that my squad would’ve been put in danger as well. That means that the Chinook helicopter that would have to fly into a hot zone to pick me up would’ve been put in danger. And all when I did that, there were over a dozen other people whose lives would’ve been put in harm’s way if I just had this injury when I was overseas. 


That happened for the first time in months. I literally said to myself, “Wow. I’m lucky,” and you and I are big on gratitude but it’s really easy to be grateful when your life is going beautifully. Whenever everything is going well and everybody’s healthy, whenever you don’t have any sickness, it’s easy to cherry-pick the things you like in your life and be grateful only for those things. But the reality is we do not get to choose what happens in our life and if we have this ability to be grateful unconditionally, much like unconditional love, then we can absorb the good and the bad, and find the opportunity within the hardship as opposed to saying, “Well, I’m happy that I have a job. I’m happy that I’m happily married. And I’m happy that it’s a nice day,” because if you’re only happy for a few things in your life then the rest of the things in your life become something that you just throw away and you don’t appreciate. And that means that there’s going to be a large percentage of your life that you will not appreciate and not find happiness to be grateful for. 


Hal: So, your book is called Adversity is a Gift. Why is adversity a gift like what is your perspective on that statement, on that title of that statement? 


Marcus: I find adversity as a gift because as human beings, we want to stay comfortable. As human beings, we don’t want to be pushed, but the reality is adversity shows up unannounced at the most inopportune times without apology. It doesn’t care about what we want. It doesn’t care about our feelings and it doesn’t pull any punches whenever it’s teaching us the lessons. So, if we want to grow stronger, if we want to learn more, we have to have that as something that will be a catalyst that will spur us forward. Because if we just do what we’re accustomed to doing, we’re just going to live in this level of mediocrity our entire lives and we’ll never even know what we’re capable of. We won’t even scratch the surface. 


Hal: So, if somebody is going through adversity right now, they’re in the middle of a divorce or financial hardship or like you, the physical that they’re going through where they have cancer or something to be anything along those lines, during the midst of adversity and kind of like you said, it’s easy when things are going great to be grateful, but when things are going tough, it’s a little tougher. If someone’s listening and they’re resisting this, what would you say to somebody who says, “Yeah. But you don’t know what it’s like to be me. You don’t know what it’s like to go through what I’m going through. You can’t expect me to be grateful or happy or see this pain as a gift?” You’re obviously a coach. I’d love to hear. How would you coach someone through that? What would you say?


Marcus: Yeah. And I would say exactly what you are saying because if you came to me the first three months I was injured and you sit down next to me and say, “Hey, Marcus, this is a gift,” I probably would’ve spit on you because I couldn’t punch you because I couldn’t move. And I would say that the thing with adversity is adversity is relative and adversity is not a competition. So, right now, as you and I speak, there are millions of people all over the world who would give anything to have the things you and I are taking for granted, but that’s not to shame people. That’s to show you that it’s very easy to be philosophical about somebody else’s hardship, but when it’s us, we want to be the exception to the rule. So, understand that what you’re going through right now, whatever the hardship is, the reason why it hurts so much is because it’s you and you’re taking a lot of it personally. I would say not to throw it away and I would say not to just say, “Oh well, this is something difficult,” and allow that to stop you from growing. 


Whatever you’re facing right now is shining a light on a weakness that you have in yourself whether it be a chink in your armor, whether it be something to do with a relationship, whether it be something about just these attributes you should be working on and that’s where you start to learn and by taking a very brutal honest, honest opportunity to look at these things as we start figuring it out. So, in other words, there is something that I have I call it the adversity scale, and zero is heaven on earth and 10 is the worst hardship you’ve ever been through in your life. So, for you, it’d probably be your injury or your cancer. That would be your 10 and then zero would be like a perfect day with your wife and with your family. So, between those things is wherever we exist in our day-to-day lives. So, if we’re complaining about traffic or about our coffee being not warm enough, usually, if we can take ourselves away from that and look at it on a piece of paper, that takes the emotion out of it because emotion assassinates the truth. 


So, if we can look at what’s actually going on and say, “You know what, this person cut me off in line in traffic. In the grand scheme of things, there’s probably about a two or three. So, whatever hardship you’re going through right now, look at that and see how this is an opportunity for me to grow? How is this teaching me? And lots of times it’s not going to be something you want to hear or something that you want to see, but that is how we get to the next level. And for better or for worse, pain and discomfort are the best teachers. And that’s why adversity is an inevitability that we need to be embracing because if we don’t have that mentality affix to us right now then by the time we hit some sort of hardship, we will be ill-prepared. 


Hal: I love that, and I couldn’t agree more. You said one thing that I’d love for you to define or expand on. What do you mean by emotion assassinates the truth? 


Marcus: Yeah. That’s how it is. Hal, have you ever had a friend or a colleague that was in a relationship that from the outside we can just see how toxic it is, whether it be a job or a relationship? And we talked about UFC earlier. It’s very easy for us to criticize the person who’s in the arena or in the ring because we’re not there. We’re outside of it. We don’t have any emotion involved. We don’t have any fear, any love, any trust, any skin in the game, but when we are facing adversity, when we’re in the heat of battle or when we’re in the fray, that’s when it’s very hard for us to be objective because, again, we’re the ones that are in the middle of it. So, by taking these things pragmatically and looking on a piece of paper and saying on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad really is this? Or by going through and just kind of itemizing and saying, “Listen, what are the pros and cons of these things?” By putting on a piece of paper, it allows us to apply logic and take a lot of the emotion out of it. 


So, understand that what you’re going through is going to be emotional because it’s your own, but the hardest part of that is taking the emotion out of it and saying, “Okay, really, what am I supposed to be learning from this and where do I go from here?” I met somebody at a speaking event. She was a girl who she had been sold into slavery at 12 years old and she was able to escape when she was 15. She came to me and she said, “Wow. Your message is so inspiring,” and then when I found out about what she had been through, I said, “Man, what you did was much more powerful than what I went through.” So, again, adversity is something that is unique to each of us. It’s not a competition. The people that are competing with it are the ones that continually want to one-up you and tell you how bad their day is or how bad their life has been and unfortunately, that is a glorified victim mindset. 


Hal: Yeah. 


Marcus: And if we don’t break out of that then we will be perpetuated by it and you and I think that many times in our lives so it’s important to recognize that, so we don’t continue to stay in that. 


Hal: Well, yeah, one of the most valuable lessons that I have learned and thank you for expanding on the emotion assassinates the truth and what you mean by that, but one of my mentors when I was 20, he taught me something called the five-minute rule and I’ve talked to my audience in the past, but it’s always a good reminder. It is simply that it’s okay to be negative when things don’t meet your expectations, but he taught us not for more than five minutes and he gave us the five-minute rule and, of course, it could be three minutes or 10 minutes or whatever. The number is kind of arbitrary. And he taught us literally when something goes wrong, when something that upsets you happens, set your timer for five minutes on your phone and give yourself five minutes to feel the emotion, to be upset, to be angry, to cry, pitch, moan, complain, vent, whatever you got to do, punch a wall, punch a pillow. 


And he said, “When the timer goes off, you acknowledge that there is no value in dwelling on this thing that upset me. That’s now in the past, whether it’s five minutes in the past or five years doesn’t really matter. It’s now in the past.” There is no value in wishing it were any different because just wishing it were different doesn’t make it different. If you can take steps to change it, great but the only logical choice we have if we want to be happy and move forward in our lives is after those five minutes were up is to accept what we cannot change and just choose consciously to be at peace with it. And in doing so, you give yourself freedom from those negative emotions, but it was really rooted in logic the idea that, look, being upset doesn’t change it. It just makes you upset. So, I think that’s really in alignment with what you’re talking about of emotion assassinates the truth like don’t stay angry or resentful or stressed or whatever like you can’t change it. Accept it. Be at peace with it. With a clear head then decide what you will do now moving forward. 


Something you said to me before we started recording, you said something like adversity should be our compass or adversity is our compass, something along those lines. What do you mean by that?


Marcus: Yeah. That’s kind of the idea of understanding that usually if we can use adversity as the indicator that we’re on the right track. The path of least resistance usually doesn’t lead anywhere. It’s usually the one that we had to place ourselves. So, whether it be in business, whether it be at a job, whether it be in a relationship, there are going to be areas that we want to try to avoid but understand that within that adversity, because adversity does not guard anything that is not worthy of having. So, whether it be getting a black belt that takes 10 years to get to that point or whether it be becoming successful in business or taking your business to the next financial level, you have to understand that it is going to take time. So, what I try to get people to do is I try to get them to embrace these micro adversities. I call them these small adversities every day. So, whether it be doing a little bit more exercise or being more definitive about what you want to do with the day, with your time, whether it be even with your dialect, like right now as we speak I’m in the middle of my third day of a five-day fast, just so that I can keep myself continually pushed, continually get myself these little micro adversities because that discipline and those ideas will bleed over into every other area of your life. 


So, it’s something that’s positive, much in the same way, though, if we decide to compromise or if we let ourselves off the hook too often, that will bleed over into our lives and then all of a sudden, we’re living this life of quiet desperation. We’re not really actualizing what we should be doing with the potential that will allow within our opportunities.


Hal: Yeah. I love that micro adversities. I think it’s kind of like your ability to handle adversity. It’s kind of a muscle. You get stronger the more you deal with adversity and especially the more you deal with it from a positive mindset would you say?


Marcus: I would absolutely agree. I mean, just like you said about a muscle, I mean, they call weightlifting resistance training so you are literally training yourself to resist and that’s exactly what we’re doing with these micro adversities. And the thing is, in this life just like you mentioned about during a keynote, adversity is an inevitability. So, if I can give myself these opportunities to get stronger in every way whether physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, if I can do that and get stronger a little bit every day, even by  a quarter of a percent over a lifetime that has huge compounding interest, but if I continually get used to shying away from adversity, if I always see the hardship and say, “I’m not going to try to do that,” then that will become our default mentality. And that default mentality will keep you in a place where you will no longer have control of your life and in this life either you choose what happens to you or what happens to you is no longer your choice. 


So, it’s so important to look at those things. People talk about gratitude and I think gratitude is important to write those things down. But at night, I have my people, they’re clients, I have them do gratitude in the morning, but when they brush their teeth, I have them say, “What are three things that I overcame today? What are three micro adversities that I overcame today?” And that could be something if it’s a person that’s depressed, it could be something as simple as getting out of bed or to be having a difficult conversation, or to be not having that donut or it could be doing an extra workout. But the idea is to reaffirm the things that you’ve already overcome because that makes you feel stronger and that highlights the things that you’re achieving as opposed to beating yourself about the things that you may not have accomplished in that day. 


Hal: Well, and I think for anybody listening this is the Achieve Your Goals Podcast and everybody listening has goals they want to achieve and I think, one, Marcus your expertise being adversity, overcoming adversity, reframing adversity, finding a gift in your adversity, I think for anybody listening, like just think about that for a second that on your journey to achieve your goals, your dreams, you will encounter adversity. It’s a fact. I don’t think there’s a human being on the planet that has achieved extraordinary success in life or in business or in any area that did not encounter adversity in various forms. Challenges, setbacks, failures, you know, whatever you want to call it. And so, your ability to manage, move through, move around to handle adversity and keep moving forward is arguably one of the most important skills or muscles as we talked about a second ago to develop to be successful. Would you say that’s true?


Marcus: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more, Hal. That’s exactly it and it’s interesting the people that we always respect and we always admire are the ones that seem to have that grace under pressure and you’re absolutely correct too. I mean, anybody that I’ve ever met that’s incredibly successful, it’s usually directly proportional. Usually, the harder the things that they’ve gone through in their lives, the more they’ve been able to use that as a catapult to move them forward but if we allow ourselves to be stuck in that adversity, if we allow that to be the end of it, here’s what I’ve learned the most about my adversity. The most important thing I learned from the adversity was empathy because if we learn the lesson from the hardship that we’ve gone through, our empathy will increase exponentially. 


So, if you’ve ever fallen down, you remember what it feels like to be down, but if somebody helps you, you always remember that person. And then if you’re the person who’s actually walking by somebody who’s falling down, you can empathize because you’ve been there before and now that will allow you to be a little bit more human. So, whether it be in a leadership capacity, in a coaching capacity, or even in a relationship, if you can get that person that empathy, you will be amazed how far that will go. 


Hal: Yeah. I can’t agree more as well. So, yeah, you coach your clients on experiencing micro adversities, and for me, like when I was diagnosed with cancer a couple years ago, the day I was diagnosed because I built my muscle to overcome adversity and just the way seeing the gift that I was diagnosed with cancer. I told my wife, “Sweetheart, I don’t know if you agree with this,” but I said, “I believe this cancer will be the best thing that ever happened to me because it will be the greatest challenge, the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to overcome, endure, and on the other side of that adversity is a better version of me and I’ll be a better husband, a better father.” And I think she told me, “What the hell are you talking about?” She’s just emotionally distraught. But for me, there was very little emotion in it. It was just say, “Hey, I now have cancer.” I have a 70% chance according to docs that I’m going to die, 30% chance I’ll live. I’ve got to deal with it, but I don’t need to bring being emotionally distraught into the equation. 


And I love for anybody listening consider that when you experience extraordinary adversity, you don’t have to be emotionally distraught, like you can choose to go, “Okay. This is my new circumstance. My new circumstance is this is what I’m dealing with,” and I might as well be the most positive, the happiest, the most grateful that I’ve ever been in my entire life while I’m going through the most difficult adversity I’ve ever endured, and you can do both simultaneously. Anyway, so, Marcus, I got off a little tangent there, but I wanted to know what was the most significant adversity that you had to overcome in your first 40 years of life before you were paralyzed?


Marcus: Yeah. I had micro adversities growing up between martial arts and just normal life, but I had two adversities that happened almost simultaneously, which is what propelled me into the military. I suffered a divorce and then…


Hal: That’s a big one. 


Marcus: That was a big one and then 10 days after that, my great uncle who was next to my father, he was the biggest role model in my life, he passed away so that was a devastating one-two punch. And my great uncle was in special forces, he was in Vietnam, he was a lifer, and I was a pallbearer for him. So, being in his funeral and seeing all these people that came out, all these people that eulogize him, all these like person after person after person coming up and talking about his valor and his bravery, I was 38 at that time and it reminded me of the idea that, man, I’ve always wanted to join the military and I always had an excuse. So, for me, I was in chiropractic school, I was divorced. I had no kids, so I literally knew that my window of opportunity was shutting quickly. That’s what I actually call, again, that’s the adversity that spurred me into action, that forced me to take action and that’s when I went to go to talk to the recruiter and was lucky enough to get the dude sign a release to get me in because of my physicality and because of my test scores. And six months later I’m getting on the bus to infantry school, getting yelled at by guys that are half my age. 


Hal: Half your age? That’s funny. What’s the future look like for you like what goal or dream or mission? What are you working towards now in the next 1 to 10 years or beyond? 


Marcus: I would very much love to do what you’re doing, which is to continue to use my message to empower others, to find opportunity with whatever they’re facing. People talk about impact and you and I speak so you’ll have somebody that walk to, come up, and say, “I read your book and it changed my life,” or, “What you just said really impacted my life.” But impact to me is the ability to give somebody information and to make them so inspired that they actually take action on that and that that action that they create inspires those around them as well. They say that we are the average of the five people that we surround ourselves with but that’s not necessarily true. We’re the average of the five emotions that those five people evoke within us. So, if they evoke something that’s negative, of course, we’re going to be a negativity but if we’re around people that are high achievers that are pushing, that are happy for us, that are encouraging us, that are inspiring us, they’re telling us that we can do more, that’s what we’re going to continually try to level up to. So, that’s what my goal is to continue to do that with my teaching with my coaching with my consultations and with what I do with my podcast as well. 


Hal: Awesome. Awesome, brother. Well, I commend you for taking your adversity and seeing the gift in it and then making it now into a gift for other people. So, thank you for the work that you’re doing. 


Marcus: Oh, please, thank you so much and thank you for your work. You are a huge inspiration to me, and you have been for longer than you can imagine so thank you so much. 


Hal: That’s awesome. Well, what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you, follow your work, learn from you? What’s the best way for people to do that?


Marcus: They can just go to my website, If you want to connect to me on LinkedIn, by all means, do that and then you can find me on all the social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter at and just reach out to me and say hello. If you want to connect to me on LinkedIn, tell me that you heard me here on Hal’s show and tell me how I can help you and how I can serve you better.


Hal: All right. And that’s your website as well, you said? 


Marcus: Yes, absolutely.


Hal: Okay. I’m going to spell it out for people just in case you’re not in front of something or you can see, it’s M-A-R-C-U-S A-U-R-E-L-I-U-S A-N-D-E-R-S-O-N, and on social. Well, Marcus, hey man, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you, getting to know you a little bit. Looking forward to getting to know you better as time goes on but thank you for the message today. 


Marcus: Thank you so much for the opportunity, my friend. I’m honored. 


Hal: Got it. Well, goal achievers, yeah, I hope you enjoy getting to know Marcus as much as I did because we got to know him at the same time. It’s kind of cool. It’s kind of fun and check out his book, The Gift of Adversity. Marcus, by the way, I’m guessing Amazon is the best place to get that? 


Marcus: Yep. Just go to Amazon and order as many copies as you want.


Hal: No limit, right? No limit.


Marcus: No limit. 




Hal: Awesome. Cool. Well, yeah, check out the book and if you’re dealing with adversity right now and if you’re not, it’s coming. There’s more around the corner but if you’re dealing with it now, my heart goes out to you. It might be easier said than done. We say find that gift, and maybe that’s a struggle for you and it always depends on the adversity or experience. It depends on who you are as a person. I think that Marcus made a great point that adversity is relative. When I was in seventh grade, my greatest adversity was I got broke up by my girlfriend that I was with for two weeks and I thought I was going to marry her and it’s like heart was broken, didn’t want to go to school anymore, but it’s like it is all relative. And actually, remember that with my kids that just because something might not be a big deal for us like that is Marcus type of empathy. Let’s be empathetic to other people and what they’re going through and empathetic to ourselves and gentle with ourselves and not beating ourselves up but just know that your adversity does not need to define your quality of life, unless you let it. It really is your choice. 


Whether or not your adversity causes you to be emotionally distraught or whether or not you see your adversity as a gift that you can learn and grow from and become better than you’ve ever been before, that has nothing to do with the adversity and everything to do with you and your choice and your mindset. So, I hope that from this moment on, you will find the gift in your adversity and keep moving forward toward the life that you want, the life that you deserve, and just keep getting better and better and better. I love you. I appreciate you. Thank you, goal achievers, and I will talk to you all next week. 



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