How to overcome challenges? Here are three powerful ways to overcome challenges, change your mindset and use roadblocks as stepping stones to build knowledge, confidence, and actually turn difficulties into personal challenges.
Life as we know it is filled with challenges, unanswered questions, uncertainties, self-doubt, and fear of failure. There is nothing new here, we all have experienced these at some stage in our life. The main question however is, what are you going to do about it?
Status quo is the norm, better the devil you know than the one that you don’t know, “it will be safer that way, less risky” as they say. Well… let’s rewind a little, shall we?
My name is Christophe Barriere-Varju, I was born in France but grew up in West Africa. As a kid, like most kids, I never knew much about worries or responsibilities apart from having to go to school and doing homework. Then I grew up and was exposed to what life had to offer, bicycling, fishing, martial art, reading, hunting and many other things. By the age of 12 I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, a fisherman, not the kind of fisherman that fish off a pontoon, I wanted to catch the big fish, the big blue marlin.
My first ever book I read from cover to cover was The Old Man and the Sea from Ernest Hemingway. This story had a profound impact on me, how someone this old, all alone, was faced with a simple challenge – catch a big fish so that he could sell it and survive. In his quest to catching that big fish, the old man faced challenges upon challenges, all alone day and night in his timber boat in the middle of the ocean, he fought and fought and fought, never giving up on his dream of being able to finally catch that big marlin.
At a young age this book instilled in me the fighting and competitive spirit ‘The HEMINGWay’ – not against others but against my own abilities, that story showed me the inspiration one must have to continue fighting against all odds, and ultimately paying the price with his/her suffering.
By now you are probably wondering where this is going to lead? Fast forward a few decades – there I was, crossing the line of the toughest and most dangerous race on earth, the Dakar Rally. For those of you that are not aware of the Dakar Rally, it is a 10,000km / 6,200 miles race across the desert over 14 days. Racers sleep on average 3-5 hours a night after having raced for 12-14 hours per day, each day for two weeks, against themselves, all alone in the immensity of the desert. The event originally started in 1979 and was called the Paris-Dakar, taking riders from Europe across to Africa.
Similar to the old man, I raced my last Dakar Rally on a motorcycle all alone without support, I had injuries, I suffered, and I crossed the finish line. Similar to Ernest Hemingway, the true story was captured in a documentary film, Dream Racer.
Having won seven international awards, Dream Racer is now listed as one of the best motorcycle documentaries and motorcycle racing movies of all time. But much more than a dirt bike movie, Dream Racer is one of these inspirational movies with a true story that will make you question your own purpose in life.
Of course, between The Old Man and The Sea and Dream Racer, a lot had happened. The kid grew up into a teenager continuing to be exposed to life and more challenges. These challenges kept creeping up, and answers were lacking. This led to deception, and more deception, self-doubt about what you can or cannot accomplish.
Pressure of high school, university, jobs all intermixed with relationships and emotional roller coaster is enough to make you freeze into a status quo position and many of us fall in this initial position — “I better keep that job because I don’t know if I can get another one. I better stay in that relationship because I don’t know if I can be alone.”
Then at the age of 21, I moved from Africa to America being the proud owner of two suitcases! Everything was different, the language, the culture, the environment, the weather, the people and the fact that I was for the first time – alone, not just down the street from the family but a continent away. There was no one to land a hand and I went from being assisted to doing everything alone.
The first couple of months were tough because of the language barrier as I could not fathom to hear myself speak into another language. Then people started to understand what I was saying, and they responded and I was like “hmmm…what did they just say?”
Several month later College started, then two years later University. It was then that I realised something that would affect the way I have lived my life ever since. I used these three powerful ways to overcome challenges and continuously change and improve my mindset:
(1) Challenge Yourself and Take on More – I thought, if I do the exact same things as what people were doing I would end up most likely like everyone else, not that it was bad or anything but coming from a competitive background you always want to do more, to go a bit further. It started with my studies, it was also the time Amazon began as a company so I bought business books after business books – I was a very good customer at Amazon! Every book led to another part of the puzzle in my knowledge bank that became lacking, so I bought that book to fill the missing piece. Topics went from Design of Experiment to Marketing to Logic, to Manufacturing Processes, Kanban, JIT, Activity Based Costing – I just wanted to know everything I could about business, end-to-end;
(2) The Power of Positive Thoughts and Language – I learned about the power of the mind and the impact of language upon oneself, then immediately I put that into action, out the negative, in the positive including thoughts, verbal, and behavioral. This trained my brain and over the years the power of positive thinking ended up not only inspiring and motivating myself – but others as well – which I do now as an Inspirational Public Speaker;
(3) Look Forward to Failures and Mistakes – The third paradigm shift that I made was to view my mistakes and errors as an opportunity to learn and to become better, as opposed to being upset or frustrated. The more mistakes I made trying things, the more excited I became because I was learning something and I was becoming better at the things I was doing.
This method to overcome challenges, tied with learning the ‘process of learning’, along with the initial impact of the Old Man and The Sea slowly shaped me into the person I wanted to be and helped me resolve the challenges that came up my way as the years went by.
Fast forward a few years, after working at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York, the biggest consulting firms in the world, I was longing for something more, a different lifestyle, Australia had been on my mind for 7 years, and in the same way I moved from West Africa to the United States at 21, I repeated the same thing at the age of 29, and landed in Australia working for another global consulting firm, Arthur Andersen.
A few years later I decided to prove to myself that what I was doing for them I could do it with my own consulting firm, BvW Global. After all I had all the education for it, the drive, the passion and the motivation to make something out of nothing. So late in 2001 I started my own consulting firm advising Government Agencies and Large Corporation on Advanced Procurement Methods, Cost Reduction, and Performance Frameworks – saving them millions of dollars in the process.
Obviously this took a bit of effort to get going, establish a network of clients in a country that was all new to me, motorcycle racing took a back seat with the odd local motocross races now and then.
But in May 2004 I was missing racing motorcycles at the highest levels so I decided I was going to race the Dakar Rally – the toughest and most dangerous off-road race on earth. Racing dirt bikes and motorcycles had been part of my life since very young, so how hard could it be?
The more I dug into it the more I told myself “what did I get myself into” – I had
questions after questions, all unanswered. How could you possibly race 10,000kms over 14 days? How could you possibly race motorcycles 10-12 hours each day for 14 days? How do you navigate when alone in the immensity of the desert? Luckily for me, for the first time since its inception, the Dakar Rally organisers shut down the entries early due to too many competitors applying. I was out before it began, I watched the Dakar Rally on TV and it gave me the chance to learn and prepare accordingly.
I was using my approach to study everything about the race, train long hours, think positive, learn from my mistakes. The following year I was at the starting line of my first Dakar Rally in Africa. I raced the Dakar Rally once more in Africa and twice in South America after the event moved there.
I decided that my fourth Dakar Rally was going to be my last time racing a motorcycle, but I wanted it to be memorable, to leave a mark like Ernest Hemingway did with his novel. With the help of a film maker, Dream Racer was born. My brief was simple, create a story that will inspire and motivate people to accomplish the things they want in life, and use me as an example, and the Dakar Rally as an analogy.
Now, I am not an actor so we recorded everything as it happened, no script, just hit the record button and say whatever happened that day or what we had in mind. The Dream Racer movie, unintentionally, is so rich in life content, it is not just about the Dakar Rally but it is an inspiring documentary that is timeless and will motivate people to accomplish whatever challenges they have in life. This is the reason Dream Racer won seven international awards.
Dream Racer is fast becoming one of the best motorcycle documentaries and dirt bike movie on IMDb, Dream Racer is an inspirational movie that will motivate young and old for generations to come. Just have a look at viewer reviews available at <http://www.dreamracer.tv/testimonials> and the testimonials are more than we could have expected when we started Dream Racer.
The Dream Racer full feature movie has been sold in over 145 countries and purchased by Discovery World and FOX.
Dream Racer however is not just a movie, it is a life philosophy, an approach to life where anyone with a dream can accomplish absolutely anything, where ordinary people do extraordinary things and inspire others in the process.
With those values in mind, we took the Dream Racer concept further. What started as a movie became a brand – and is now a line of apparel clothing, I am on the speaking circuit as a speaker, and our latest, Dream Racer Television is a video on demand platform that has the same capabilities as platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, or Amazon Prime.
Dream Racer Television now host some of the best motorcycle documentaries including Dream Racer (full movie) and Riding Morocco: Chasing the Dakar, a film made for National Geographic.
Like The Old Man and the Sea – and the ‘HEMINGWay’, I sincerely hope that the ‘DREAM RACER Way’ and its values will stay with you for many years to come and serve as a constant reminder that your only competitor, your only opponent in life, is yourself!
Christophe Barriere-Varju – Dream Racer.
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