“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heart-breaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” – B. C. Forbes
“In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the King’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.
After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.
The peasant learned what many of us will never understand: “Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.”
Whilst this story depicts a sentimental scene of overcoming obstacles, it nonetheless underscores the importance of pushing past your impediments.
Obstacles are present in everyday life – be it a barrier that sets you back, halts your progress or derails your best laid plans. They can be discouraging and cause loss of precious time and resources.
Beyond the cause of frustration, what purpose do obstacles serve? Could there be a gift contained within the experience? Perhaps you need to become acquainted with a certain skill or acquire valuable knowledge before proceeding with your plans.
We must consider that obstacles serve a function other than causing emotional distress. Contesting reality will not earn you support, since life always prevails. Leaning in to your challenges however, allows you to move through the obstacle rather than allow it to dominate your life.
By leaning in to your challenges, you welcome the flow of life through your non-resistance. You allow the obstacle to permeate your life in order to identify the significance of the hurdle.
The following points serve as a guide for overcoming most obstacles. Be willing to abandon endeavours that do not deliver results. Far too many people discount the value of redirecting their attention elsewhere when all attempts have been exhausted. Pride, self-worth and time invested are the main reasons cited for flogging a dead horse.
“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” – Orison Swett Marden
1. Distance yourself emotionally: When facing an obstacle, emotions run high since you are reacting to the ensuing drama. Step back mentally and emotionally by viewing the obstacle from a greater perspective. An accomplished Australian artist noted when she oil paints, prefers to take regular breaks throughout the painting process. This allows her to return to her work with a fresh set of eyes and approach painting from a completely different vantage point. You might adopt the same approach with your obstacle – take a break from it for a while and return to it with renewed enthusiasm when the time is right.
2. Seek out necessary resources: Oftentimes you may be lacking certain provisions, finances, strategies or a key piece of knowledge to conquer your obstacle. The key is to acknowledge that your obstacle is ‘resource related’. For example you may require a key software program to automate a process, freeing you up to direct your attention to more important work. Consult with those who can help you move through the hurdle. As they say, enlist a fresh pair of eyes to see what you may be lacking.
3. Gain perspective: It can be overwhelming when an unforeseen obstacle emerges. Getting caught up in the ensuing crisis redirects vital resources required to make critical decisions. Gaining perspective allows you to step away from the ‘noise’. You might seek help from others, talk to friends or loved ones who may offer a different assessment of your challenge. Perspective does not imply distancing yourself in apathy. It simply means viewing the obstacle from numerous vantage points while considering other options.
4. Evaluate the obstacle: Can something be done now to overcome the obstacle or does it require specialised assistance? Consider the obstacle objectively as though you were seeing it for the first time. Engage your logical mind by applying sound judgement to the task ahead. Avoid becoming emotionally invested while enslaved to the task.
5. Remain focussed and committed: Oftentimes an obstacle is not intended to weaken your endeavours. Rather it is an invitation to get clear on the process in order to progress to the next stage. It is advising you to attend to a particular aspect now rather than the future, when you have invested valuable time and energy. You might recall Thomas Edison’s well-known passage regarding 1,000 ways that did not work to invent the light bulb.
Be unrelenting in your commitment – do not give up. Do not allow setbacks to get you down. You are bound to fall upon many setbacks in life. Obstacles help enrich your mental experience in so far as building resilience, fortitude and strength. Every time you tackle a problem, you overcome a mental hurdle.
6. Develop a growth mindset: In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success author Carol Dweck delves deep into the two different mindsets required for success: fixed or growth focussed mindsets. She provides the reader with a comprehensive foundation for developing a growth mindset, which is aspiring toward continuous improvement and building on your successes. She reminds us, “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives”.
Tony is currently writing his second book and would love your help! He says, “I understand many of your readers appreciate personal growth, motivation and inspirational stories. I have put together a 5 minute survey to understand their needs a little better for writing the book”.
If you would like to contribute to this research for Tony, he would be grateful if you could click this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FNVLCTL (via Survey Monkey)
What is an obstacle in your life? And what obstacles have you overcome? How did you do it? Share your stories with us.