Lean In To Your Challenges
“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. So, 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 on the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating 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 the story depicts a fictitious scene of overcoming obstacles, it 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 gain valuable knowledge before proceeding with your plans.
We consider that obstacles serve a function other than causing us emotional distress. Wishing things were different 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. That is, 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 should serve as a guide for overcoming the obstacles that life will throw at you. Far too many people discount the value of redirecting their attention elsewhere when all attempts have been exhausted to overcome a problem. Pride, self-worth and time invested are the main reasons cited for flogging a dead horse.
How To Overcome Obstacles
“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. Therefore, try to step back mentally and emotionally from the situation by viewing the obstacle from a greater perspective. For instance, an accomplished Australian artist noted when she oil paints, she 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 the painting from a completely unique vantage point. You might adopt the same approach with your obstacle. That is, take a break from it for a while and return to it with renewed enthusiasm when the time is right.
2. Seek Necessary Resources:
Often, you may lack certain provisions, finances, strategies, or a key piece of knowledge to conquer your problem. The key is to acknowledge that the problem 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 you a different assessment of your challenge. Perspective does not imply distancing yourself into apathy. It simply means viewing the obstacle from many 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 and enslaved to the task.
5. Remain Focussed And Committed:
Often, a problem is not intended to weaken your endeavours. Rather, it is an invitation to get clear on the process 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 the 1,000 ways that did not work to invent the light bulb? Therefore, be unrelenting in your commitment and 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 they help you build 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 mindsets required for success: Fixed or Growth focussed mindsets. She provides the reader with a comprehensive foundation for developing a growth mindset regarding continuous improvement and building on your successes. She writes: “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.”