3 Ways To Use Obstacles To Your Advantage

Dreams and aspirations—we all have them, whether you want to be a world-famous writer, a doctor, a captain of industry, or an international playboy. You set off on a journey to fulfill your dreams because you’re a fucking Billy Badass and nothing is going to stand in your way.

Then reality decides to be a dick and stands in your way. Your submission to XoJane gets rejected because it wasn’t angry enough and only mentioned rape culture twice…or you fail your Intro to Biology class…or you can’t even work up the courage to talk to that cute Latina chick. You sit there deflated, wondering how the gods could be so cruel to little special snowflake you.

Luckily for you, Ryan Holiday’s new book The Obstacle Is the Way provides a time-tested formula inspired by the great Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It teaches you to not just overcome your obstacles, but to leverage them to your advantage. Drawing from historical examples of people who were way more important than you or I, he separates the book into a series of characteristics, philosophies, and values that a person must have to hopefully join their ranks or at least give it the good ol’ junior-college try. Here are three that stuck out to me.

1. Follow the Process

You’ve got to do something very difficult. Don’t focus on that. Instead break it down into pieces. Simply do what you need to do right now. And do it well. And then move on to the next thing. Follow the process and not the prize.

When we read an enriching novel or an article that makes us think and see things from a new perspective, we are experiencing the fruits of the writer’s extensive labor. We don’t see the process. We don’t see the writer as he reads book after book, learning from his mentors who may have long passed. We don’t see his first attempts of forming an original thought or sentence that is totally unreadable. We don’t see him as he learns the difference between the overreaching of vocabulary and using it in a seamless fashion. We don’t see him as he struggles, staring at the blank screen to formulate his next witty phrase.

By focusing on the little things, the fine details, the nitty-gritty aspects of what you’re trying to accomplish, you make the task much more manageable and feasible. Those little mundane parts—when done right and compounded together over the course of time and constant repetition—will create a road to the grand success of which you dream.

2. Do Your Job, Do It Right

Everything we do matters—whether it’s making smoothies while you save up money or studying for the bar—even after you already achieved that success you sought. Everything is a chance to do and be your best. Only self-absorbed assholes think they are too good for whatever their current station requires.

When I was in 2nd Ranger Battalion, there was the Ranger standard that must always be met or you would be kicked out and sent to the big Army. It governed our lives: how we conducted and trained for combat, physical fitness, appearance, and acceptable behavior. In every aspect of being a Ranger, you were expected to do your job with a high level of motivation, competence, attention to detail, and eagerness to improve. It didn’t matter if you were going on a direct-action raid, doing a live-fire exercise, jumping out of an airplane, cleaning the barracks, policing up brass, mowing the quad’s lawn, fast-roping out of a helicopter, or doing your morning physical training session. Your ass better be giving it your all, or you were going to get your balls crushed.

I was a mediocre Ranger who barely survived being in battalion; nothing exceptional compared to some of the no-shit legendary men with whom I got to serve. But it instilled a strong work ethic in me. Taking pride in doing even the simplest jobs right—however trivial, mundane, and unglamorous they are—prepares you to take on the larger and more glamorous tasks when they are set before you.

3. Build Your Inner Citadel

No one is born a gladiator. No one is born with an Inner Citadel. If we’re going to succeed in achieving our goals despite the obstacles that may come, the strength in will must be built.

The world doesn’t give a fuck if you succeed or not. In fact, the world wants you to fail. If you want to attempt anything grand and not live a life of quiet desperation like so many poor souls, it will require you to be physically and mentally tough. Neither one of these attributes is built overnight.

Physical strength and toughness will better prepare you to deal with the obstacles life places in front of you than if you are scrawny or fat. Many “intellectual” douchebags who look down on the physically fit fail to see that the discipline needed to get to that point helps strengthen the mind and will.

Mental toughness will let you handle and overcome any obstacles that seek to wage psychological warfare on you. It gives you the capacity to think through them and find solutions. It gives you the ability to face down the naysayers, the haters, and the nonbelievers. It will help you say, “Fuck you” to them and drive on.

You need to change your mindset in how you view obstacles. They aren’t always negative; they can bring opportunity if you’re bright enough. This book will help you forge a mind that not only can power through them but can also squeeze out every drop of benefit from them.

~Raul Felix

You can read more of my articles on Thought Catalog

Onward to 2014

With each passing New Years one tries to remember where they were at that time the previous year. For some, they were brighter times and for others, they were darker times. Life is that way. You’re on top of the world one minute, and sucking cock for crack the next. The world is tough, but it’s not an invincible opponent. With the right attitude, tons of hard work, and a little bit of luck, you can always change the tides of your life.

2013 was a weird year for me. I hit a new low in some areas of my life and hit new highs in others. The year started out rough: I got drunk as fuck on New Year’s Eve and ended up losing my iPhone. In my inebriated state of mind, I came to the conclusion that a group of four Russian dudes stole it from me, and I got aggressive with them. I got my ass kicked by all four of them. I don’t remember if I even got a punch in, but I had a swollen cheek, elbow, and twisted ankle for a good week. Not only did that occur, but I drank so much that next day I showed up one hour late to work reeking of booze. My team leader, being the good man he is, covered for me. Being the big piece of shit I am, I fucked up once again, overslept the next day and was late for work. Hence, I got fired from my good paying job in Israel.

Afterwards, I backpacked around Western Europe randomly for a month and headed back to the United States after a year and a half of being gone to start a new chapter in my life. What would that chapter entail was a question that lingered in my mind as I spent a good six months smoking weed, drinking, working 12 hours a week, playing video games, working out on occasion, writing on occasion, and not having any real responsibilities. It’s amazing what a lazy, worthless creature a man is capable of becoming when he doesn’t know what the next step in his life will be.

I rode my motorcycle almost a thousand miles to my Mexican hometown of Cuidad Obregon, Sonora to spend a week camping with the rest of Felix clan. While I had a great time, I was also reminded of where I came from and why my family left that worthless, corrupt country that contains no future for anyone of true ambition.

The long-distance, compounded by other issues we had, killed my year and a half relationship with my beautiful Israeli girlfriend. I later became smitten by another chick who I met through my blog and in turn, had my heart crushed by her. Basically, my love life was nothing deeper than a string of one night stands that I had with girls who I met through my bouncer job.

While I was deprived of any form of romantic love, I was abundantly blessed with real friendships. I became room mates with my best friend, Sleazy-E, few other awesome guys, and hung out with all my old high school friends. I reconnected with some of my Ranger buddies from my Army days and was introduced to a shit-ton of current and former Rangers that I now consider my friends. I started working at two bars where I genuinely enjoy talking to and seeing my co-workers. I’ve had fans of my writing reach out to me, some have become close friends that I fully trust and others, potential lovers.

When I started working as a bouncer, I had a goal of becoming a bartender. Since I am a not a chick with big tits or a pretty, blue eyed white boy with a smile that melts girls’ hearts, it was going to be a tough gig to get. I made it known what my goals were. I worked hard, figured out how to pick up chicks using bouncer game, and threw the occasional drunk out the bar. In turn, I was recommended to work at another bar as a bar-back/bouncer and now am being trained to bartend. I got an opportunity that people wait two or three years for in eight months and now am making a decent amount of money because of it.

My writing has truly taken off. I’ve had articles featured on Return of Kings, Thought Catalog, and Sass & Balderdash. I have become one of the most liked and most hated writers on Thought Catalog. My best piece to date, The Division of Generation Y, went viral and was shared on Facebook 50,000 + times and has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. It has solidified and given legitimacy to my writing and my writing style. It has given me a taste of what success feels like and what kinds of opportunities are presented when I open my heart, mind, and soul to the world.

There was a lull in my writings after that piece. I was overwhelmed by the success of it. I had no idea what I could write that would top it, or even at least come close to matching it. I would begin to write a new piece, fully confident it was going to be another smash hit, then I would lose traction half way through. Nothing seemed to come together the way I wanted it. With that, my consistency suffered and I wasted two months with each day feeling guilt-ridden because I hadn’t produced another groundbreaking piece.

As much as those fucking bitch-made haters on Thought Catalog wish it had, quitting has never crossed my mind. Self-doubt has. Self-loathing has. Quitting? Fuck you! Surrender is not a Ranger word, mother fuckers.

In this journey in the writing world, I have discovered that I truly have a writing talent and a voice that can’t be replicated. It’s something that no one can, nor will ever take away from me because I possess two very important traits: Emotional toughness and balls. I’m emotionally tough enough to take the harsh criticisms, the trolls, family members telling me they don’t like what I write, people cutting me out of their lives because of my written work, the dead ends, the long lonely nights in front of the screen, and the silence when what I write doesn’t resonate with anybody. I have the balls to go after my dreams, write under my real name, put myself out there, take rejection, hatred, and still come on out top with sweat on my brow and a shit-eating grin.

The only thing that can and has been holding me back is myself. Yes, I write, but I’ve been treating my writing with a hobbyist work ethic. It has invigorated me how much I have accomplished with just that effort, and it has deflated me how much opportunity I have missed out on by treating it like a hobby. I’m in a perfect situation in my life to make a big move, and I have decided on it; I’m treating my writing with a professional work ethic.

2012 was the year I started this blog, but I was sporadic. In 2013 I took it more seriously and put my toes in the waters, but I wasn’t as intense as I should have been. 2014, is the year I fully dive in and sink or swim. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m scared. I’m overjoyed combined with a host of other conflicting emotions. Just like being a soldier, it doesn’t matter what you feel, as long as you do your job. Trust me, I’m going to do my job with every bit of my being, and it will be a job well done. In life, your biggest enemy isn’t the world, your haters, your environment, or the nay sayers; your biggest enemy is yourself. Once you conquer yourself, you can conquer anything.

~Raul Felix

Three Surefire Way to Get Over Your Ex-Girlfriend

Though I’ve been featured on Thought Catalog for month or so now, I’ve restrained from making a blog post about the articles because they were all re-posts of articles I’ve had written earlier on this site. Now, I am happy to say I have written my first piece of original content for them and am making my first pay day as a writer. Don’t worry, I’m still going to keep on writing here mainly and letting you into my fucked up mind. Now go check out my latest piece, Three Surefire Ways to Get Over Your Ex-Girlfriend. Also, make sure you let those haters in comments section know I’m the fucking balls.

~Raul Felix

“Where else have you been featured?” On Sass & Balderdash Mother Fucker: Four Ways to Please Your High-Value Man

I’m Sorry, I Thought This Was America!

My blog has had the distinguished honor of getting flagged as mature by WordPress. I guess when you write about dolphin fucking and whores with stinky vaginas, it’s to be expected. Basically, what this means is that none of my posts are going to be on the WordPress main page and I’m never going to be eligible to be Freshly Pressed. Which I hear is really good at driving traffic to your blog. I’m not going to have other wayward bloggers find my site by accident, not through WordPress Reader anyways.

Now there are two ways a person can handle this: One is to bitch and moan about how unfair it is. Blame it on stupid fellow bloggers who reported you and call WordPress a bunch of commie faggots who are censoring free speech like some shit out of 1984.

RandyMarshAmerica

Another, slightly more dignified approach, is to take responsibility for the things one says. You have the right to say what you wish, but there are repercussions for it. My writing style is still evolving, but right now, I like to deem it as eloquently vulgar. I mix a lot of offensive language with a couple of hundred dollar words and then trim it down. That means that I turn off a lot of potential readers that would have liked me otherwise, had I toned it down a notch. I believe in my current state, if I tone it down a notch, my writing would lose some of the edge that makes it distinguished and truly mine.

This is a little bit of a set back, but fuck it, it’s just another challenge to over come and get my stupid little Mexican brain thinking of how to promote myself through other avenues. It will force me to seek more writing opportunities on other sites so I can drive traffic here and gain ground with new people reading my material. As of right now, I have 52 followers, a platoon sized element of people willing to read what I have to say. They subscribed because they read something they liked and wanted more. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to give it to them.

The only way one can become a good writer is by staying true to themselves and what they are and to what they represent. If you try to please everybody, you please no one. I’m not writing to please everyone, but rather, to please the small niche of people who will think my writing is worth something. So, WordPress, you can keep that little adorable Freshly Pressed trophy, I’ll earn my followers through hard work and tenacity.

~Raul Felix

Read: What It Is To Write

My Business Card

I’ve been wanting to get a business card to hand out to the people I meet randomly to encourage them to visit my blog. But I thought I needed some sort of logo and design, so I put it off. The other day while riding around on my motorcycle, a business card idea struck me. A couple of hours later I went on my computer and ordered the following bad boys. What do you think?

Business Card

~Raul Felix

What It Is To Write

Writing is an individual event. One must have the motivation and tenacity to sit down in front of their laptop consistently and face the dreaded blank screen. Hoping the words your fingertips pound out will actually form something comprehensible. And if they form something comprehensible, will it actually be something that someone will want to read? And if it’s something someone will want to read, will what you attempt to convey be what they perceive? These are the questions that a writer asks himself when he sits down to write whatever piece he is working on.

Like any art, one must be willing to dredge through the bitter loneliness. No one sees your struggle to churn out that silly anecdote, philosophical rant, or witty observation. No one cares if it took you thirty minutes or six hours to piece together those 1800 words they read in three minutes. No one will come up to you in the coffee shop and ask you what you’re writing about and eagerly listen.

You must take full responsibility for the effort you put in. No one is going to call you before you go to sleep and ask you how many words you wrote today or how you better get your ass in gear and work on your new post. No one is going to yell in your ear and tell you to write more and write faster. No one, really, is thinking about what you’re doing to hone your craft. They’re too busy with their own lives and worries.

Its up to you. Rare is the parent who wishes their kid to be a writer, as opposed to a doctor or engineer. Rare is the employer, who cares about your ability to write whimsical tales as opposed to having the proper skills for the job. Rare is the friend who is willing to help you through the muck that are rough drafts. Rarely will anybody tell you that writing is what you should do instead of using that energy elsewhere.

Writing is a cruel art. Cruel because it teases your mind when it’s unable to grasp the proper words or idea’s to pour onto a piece. Cruel because once you finally grasps those words for that sentence, the next sentence is placed in front you. One’s mental capacity is constantly being pushed to its outer limits. It’s a disheartening and unnerving craft, because sometimes your best words go unacknowledged. With each step taken forward, the hill inclines a slight bit.

Writing is a loving art. Loving because once your artistic threshold has been pushed, it nourishes your mind and reinvigorates into something slightly more grandeur. Loving because once you finish a piece, you immediately forget the feeling of hopelessness that once consumed you. In its place, accomplishment and self-satisfaction. Loving because the words you write are an expression of your very core as a human being. You created something that, a moment before, didn’t exist. You contributed to your culture, in a very small, but special way.

You have to be willing to take the hits to your ego as a piece you diligently worked on for hours goes unnoticed. You have to adopt the mentality that each piece, however grand or small, is nothing more than a brick placed towards building yourself as writer. Some will gather more attention than others, but even the most impressive structure has countless small bricks as support. Don’t forget that the world operates on a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. You’re only as good as your last piece, for the writer who dwells too long on his past success is a has-been.

Writing is self-absorbed and pretentious. It’s feeling that for whatever farfetched reason, people will actually care what you have to say about any subject whatsoever. It’s feeling that your uniqueness as a special snowflake is so god damn remarkable, that another special snowflake will take time away from their own little special snowflake existence to read what your special snowflake ass has to say. As the old maxim goes: it requires the foolishness to try, and the cockiness to think you can actually succeed.

Writing, in its simplest form, is putting words on paper. Like a skilled wordsmith, you must bend them to your will. Whether they be for good or evil, humor or grief, fact or fiction, they are yours for the taking. The only thing stopping you is whether you’re willing to dig deep enough to harness their power.

~Raul Felix

Some more writings about writing, read: One Year & Driving On

One Year & Driving On

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”-Gloria Steinem

One year ago, I started this little blog in an effort to pressure myself to get my writing out there for the dear and avid reader, such as yourself, to enjoy. It was a really tough step for me because I wasn’t that confident about my writing up to that point. But, it has been more rewarding than I thought it would be. Even though I harbor no delusions of grandeur and I know I am small fry and I don’t have a huge following. It feels great and humbling to know that people take time out of their day to read the kind of stuff I come up with. It’s beyond the grasp of my writing ability to describe how it feels when a friend, acquaintance, or a stranger tells me they’ve read one of my entries and found it hilarious or insightful.

One of the most rewarding parts of it has been that I surprise people with my ability to write. I’m not trying suck my own cock here, but it brings a shit-eating grin to my face when those who knew me at some point in my colorful life say they can’t believe my dumb ass wrote that or that I’m a good writer. I’m proud when I get that response, because it means I am evolving not only as a writer, but as a human being. My skills were not always up to par, as one of my best friends, Sleazy-E once put it, “Felix, I want say I’m actually impressed. Your blog is good. In several years you went from obvious reaching for vocabulary words to an efficient and effective use of the English language.”

I’m not sure what I expected people’s responses to be. But I believe I am lucky because I have received nothing but support from my friends, family, and acquaintances that I’m pursuing this avenue for myself. No one has berated me and told me that I have no hopes of becoming a writer. Though, that also has to do with the fact that I’m doing other positive things with my life and I have no aspirations to be a stereo typical starving artist.

There is a big cliche out there that there are writers who don’t write and just want to call themselves writers in hopes of sounding artsy and getting that hipster pussy. That’s not what I am about. I feel that it’s a title that needs to be earned with constantly pouring yourself into the craft and having the balls to let the world see the dark parts of your mind and self. I have just barely grown comfortable with calling myself a writer and not just an aspiring writer. Some may take that title lightly, but I don’t, because I believe this is what I was born to do and I give it the respect it deserves.

It’s such a unique and under-appreciated skill set to come up with writing that people actually want to read. I try to be as funny, witty, and insightful as I can. Sometimes I hit the mark, other times I fail. But with each post, I’m trying to push what I am capable of as a writer. So far, it has been a mixtures of some of my life stories, my philosophies, and quite a bit of machismo and misogyny. Some entries I try to write in a fictional way to make the point more clear and others I make my best effort to be as accurate to the true events as possible.

While I am proud of every single one of my entries, some stand out more than others. The Feminine Aficionado was a milestone, where for the first time I let out my bold thoughts and feelings on how I view each woman I see in public. I’d Pee in Her Butt put to light how men truly feel about women they only keep around to fuck and because of its title, has been one of the most memorable and most read. Three Rock Solid Ways to Become a More Marketable Bum was not as successful in attracting views as I thought it should have been, but I believe without a doubt is my best written piece to date. Four Things You Didn’t Think of Before Joining the Army was my first success in giving out real world advice in a funny and witty manner. Shy Girl holds a special place in my heart because it’s inspired by those many lonely nights I spent in the barracks as a 19 and 20 year old Private in the Army looking for girls on myspace to meet up with and constantly getting ignored and rejected.

Writing has given me an outlet to express myself. I don’t know how I went so long without fully embracing it. Because as of now, I can’t imagine living a fulfilling life without it. I made it through my first year and didn’t quit, I think that puts me in the top 20% of bloggers/writers just in itself. Now, its time to take bolder, more aggressive steps to get myself up to the 10%. Thank you for supporting me in my first year. I will continue to push myself to deliver the quality, bull shit free content you have come to expect from me and hopefully, give you a few laughs along the way.

~Raul Felix

Where it began: It Begins.