How to build a foundation with those things currently blocking you.

by Todd Mitchem

block |bläk|


an obstacle to the normal progress or functioning of something : substantial demands for time off may constitute a block to career advancement | an emotional block.

Watching the world around me while I ride this amazing river of life is, in essence, watching my favorite reality show in real time. The difference is we get to interact and impact the world around us. One of my favorite places to observe is in an airport. That is, after I am patted down and searched for being the “Pot Guy.” 

At an airport, you have a large conglomeration of people who don’t know each other all trying to achieve the common goal of getting wherever it is they’re trying to go--literally and figuratively. When you mix a lot of people who harbor fear, anger, personal importance, lack of vision, misguided priorities, selfish behavior, and years of egoic story telling, it produces a scene that is unfailingly interesting to watch. You see people get lost in a sea of negative emotion fueled by internal and external blocks.  While entertaining to watch, I find myself wanting to help.  After all, we are all in this together.

One time last year I was passing through airport security and observed a gentlemen arguing with TSA. The TSA informed the man he was going to have to take his computer out of its case and send it through the X-ray machine. While TSA “service” can be hit or miss, this particular agent was both patient and kind. Still, the man became enraged. He took the case with the computer inside, and threw it at the officer. “Get it yourself,” he yelled. As the police walked up it was clear this man was about to experience another, even more stressful situation. His attitude definitely dictated his experience and his mental blocks were keeping him from a more fulfilling life experience, not to mention a peaceful travel experience.                     

Your attitude dictates your experience

Remember, we can’t always control a situation, but we can control the way we FEEL while we are experiencing tough times. Our feelings in moments of perceived stress make all the difference in the world to our overall life experience. When the only thing you can control is you, by all means, assert that control.

So why does this happen? Why are we allowing ourselves to be carried with the currents, gasping for air when we could simply ride along peacefully in celebration of life? The reason, in my opinion, is something we create inside ourselves using a lifetime of behavioral conditioning passed on from generation to generation. We build a foundation for living on sand but then are shocked when the house shakes in the wind. The things that stop us from experiencing joy in life feel very real, but are easily repurposed for good.

The reason we experience so much fear and anger is simple: we all have blocks—much like the roadblocks police use when trying to apprehend someone. In that case, the purpose of a roadblock is to not allow you to take a certain path. Blocks from within have a similar function, but they are constructed by your ego to stop you from escaping from its grasp.  In short, they are an obstacle to finding our true selves. By removing these blocks you allow things, people, situations, and circumstances you desire to literally free flow into your reality. The blocks do not need to be broken down or destroyed, but merely moved out of the way or used to build better reality.. In fact, I don’t find my self “unblocking” my pain or anger. Instead, I try to get to the deeper meaning of why I feel these emotions in the first place and then utilize that knowledge for positive results.

So where do these blocks originate? Some are learned, and some are taught by our caregivers. Sometimes for reasons that made perfect sense at the time, but fail to serve us in adulthood. Whoever was responsible for raising you placed some of the initial (and often most difficult) blocks inside of you. Over time, these blocks can become something more dangerous and damaging…..a belief. Then, by Law of Attraction, these thoughts or beliefs attract the exact situations to prove you right. The block then anchors to your awareness as the ONLY reality.

In the cannabis industry, for example, there is a constant hum of activity.  Most companies are start-ups that function with their founders essentially running the show.  While the founders may desire to break free of this constant grind and want people to do the jobs they hire them for, they struggle to allow people to do things in new and different ways.  This creates a push-pull situation for the workers seeking the autonomy they feel they need to do their jobs properly.  

Where do the founder’s blocks come from in the cannabis world?

First you need to remember that the founders of these small businesses built a framework for an entire industry around a federally illegal substance. No small feat, to be sure.  With the constantly evolving new standards however, founders are faced with blocks caused by the desire to protect what they see as a fragile business model that could be taken away at any moment.  When you couple this fear with the intense pride in having built an industry, you get a potential wall of blocks. In addition, opposition groups are constantly attempting to block cannabis legalization and cannabis businesses.  What is this based in?  Mostly fear of the unknown.  Will this ruin our kids, our society, and kill productivity?  Will edibles make us crazy? Will I get high and crash my car? 

That pride can also be dangerous for the industry.  You will hear often these cannabis founders say it is not fair that people want to come into the industry when they didn't experience any of the sacrifice.  Others will criticize the ancillary businesses cropping up as not legitimate because they did not forge the teritory.  I wonder if the gold miners felt this way about Levi Strauss?  Ultimately, the cannabis industry will evolve and hopefully all us founders will evolve with it.  I have met some that are well on their way, even if their team brings them kicking and screaming.  But still, coming from the business world, I can tell you that all leaders, parents, and people create blocks.  The irony of the cannabis industry is that you would think the amazing plant we all cultivate and consume would eliminate blocks instantly.  It doesn't. Weed will definitely help you but you need to do the work. 

Goals change blocks from barricades to building blocks

block |bläk|


- A basic unit from which something is built up

In many ways, the cannabis industry is built on this concept because it has been overcoming challenges for a long time, but continues to move forward because we all have the gaol of building great businesses and eventually making cannabis legal. Companies constantly face a sea of regulations, rules and sudden shifts in opinion on the part of lawmakers.  When you factor in the endless barrage of news about cannabis, edibles fears, banking issues, and a relentless scrutiny from opposing forces, you can see how people in the marijuana industry MUST have a goal focused mentality and keep building.

The perfect example came from a contentious radio show interview!

There is no better example than an interview I had with Denver conservative radio personality Dan Caplis, early in 2014. This interview came on the heels of our state making cannabis legal and we at O.penVAPE were becoming widely recognized as the larget brand in cannabis.  Times were exciting and the media was decending on us to discuss our growth, our plans for the future, and how we were going to help guide the other brands in the industry.  As the company CRO, spokesperson and person responsible for many of the new revenue streams, I was excited to talk with the media.  After all, it was my personal mission to help guide the public and cannabis companies on developing high standards while eradicating the typical weed user stereotypes.  The one day I was asked by a producer on Dan’s show if I would come on to talk about the industry, O.penVAPE, and our plans. 

I am not one to run from a challenge so I wholeheartedly accepted the conversation and interview.  After all, I wanted to prepare for a future appearance on Bill O’Reilly and who knew what other shows, so this would serve as a warm up act.

Or so I thought.....


 Roughly an hour before my appearance, I got a call from one of the O.penVAPE founders who said Dan’s show changed the title and topic.  Now we were going to be talking about vape pens in high schools and how bad cannabis was for Colorado.  I was not prepared for that, but again because I believe getting around my fear blocks and finding a way to use every situation to build something better, I said, “let’s roll.” I remembered my goals and remained focused on them.  There was no way I would let this interview spin me into a reactive mindset.

What came next was one of the most challenging interviews I have ever given. Dan and I were in a dance of opinion coupled with a battle of wits around legal cannabis.  It was a dance for sure, but I kept referring back to our standards as a company, the medicinal benefits of cannabis, and my own High Standards.


By the time the interview was over, Dan and I “hugged it out” and laughed. I held my own, never got rattled, and was quite proud of having sparred with one of the greats in radio.  As I left however, I reflected on how much I had to keep taking my blocks and using them to build a stronger foundation.  It kept me grounded and sane in a very difficult situation. This was one of the best interviews in my career! 

By applying this learning to your work, your team, your leadership skills and your life. you are giving yourself access to a strong base.  Remember, no one gets to tell you who you are.  That is your job. And no one can put a block in front of you. EVERY BLOCK CAN BE USED TO BUILD SOMETHING BETTER!  Every time.  I know because I have done it over and over again.

Steps to turn blocks into building tools for something better.

1) Remember to stay focused on your positive goals. - Even when someone is throwing blocks at you or you are letting emotion create reactive blocks, you can turn these around.  You need to know what the ultimate goal is and stay focused.

2) Turn away from negative emotion. - Negative emotion is telling you that your mind is going int he wrong direction. When this happens you MUST remind yourself of the real goal.  Don't allow passion turn into negative emotion when you feel attacked. You will serve yourself better if you remain focused.

3) Remember that you can ALWAYS build something new. - Even in the worst situations, the ones when all feels like it is falling apart, you can use what is happening to make the outcome more in alignment with your goals. Remember my interview.  I took the blocks inside myself, the ones that he tried to put in front of me, and I turned it into something powerful. I have done this in many situations and it works.  But only if my focus remans clear.  For you the same applies.  Only you know your truth and your vision.  Stay focused!

Please comment and tell me what you think or share a story of your blocks.