Do you dread dealing with any type of obstacle? Most of us do. We want life to be easy, but it seems that obstacles continuously thwart our efforts and limit the quality of our lives. The good news is that obstacles don’t have to be the obnoxious thing you think they are.
For example, when I retired earlier this year, it was to start my own business. A simple enough goal, right? Ha! Was I ever naïve!
Sure, I know how to be a leadership development coach, give an amazing speech, and facilitate an engaging workshop. What I didn't know how to do was actually run a business!
There's branding and marketing and websites, oh my! Talk about daunting!
Oh, and did I mention that I started my business during this pandemic? Oy vey...
Along the way I have learned a tremendous amount and one of the key things is that obstacles are only permanent if you let them be permanent.
Obstacles can actually be a blessing! They can even be the path to great success and achievement. The obstacle isn’t really a roadblock. It’s an opportunity.
If there’s one characteristic found in all successful people, it’s the ability to persevere and overcome obstacles. Those that struggle with life invariably give up far too quickly.
In my experience, overcoming obstacles requires three things:
This requires having a true understanding of how the world works. It’s important to be free of emotional distress and to maintain your composure. Excess emotion clouds perception and can inhibit your ability to take action.
The obstacle of the pandemic actually became a positive for my business. Since I couldn't visit potential businesses and clients in person, I had time to take a breath and learn how to build my business more online. I learned how to create my own website and use Canva to create branded templates. I learned how to use social media as a tool and not just a way to kill time (yes, it can be done)! And I had the luxury of time to figure out just WHAT I wanted my business to look and feel like - to me AND my clients!
I have often heard it said that action beats back anxiety and I found that to be true. Instead of being anxious about the pandemic (especially as it goes on and on and on...), I channeled any negative emotion into actions that taught me how to be a business owner.
With accurate perception, you have the ability to take appropriate action. The key word here is appropriate. All of us take actions every day. Even lying on the couch and watching television is a course of action. However, few of us take intelligent action. Intelligent action consists of actions that are most likely to lead to success.
Another way to think of it is to take action until you get the result you want. I can't tell you all the mistakes I made learning how to create my own website! One time, all the text on my site disappeared. That caused me some serious angst. But I figured it out by trial and error, which was how it happened in the first place. Turns out I didn't delete all the text, I just turned it white on a white background.
So intelligent actions are those that move you forward in a positive direction, even if all you learn is that you shouldn't have moved in that direction in the first place. That can be powerful knowledge in and of itself.
Creating opportunities from obstacles requires tenacity. When placed in a situation with multiple obstacles and little hope, do you continue or do you give up? The ability to accept the situation makes intelligent action easier. Lacking acceptance, you’ll face too much emotional struggle to perceive accurately or to act intelligently.
There's that word again: emotion. In order to see obstacles as opportunities, we need to learn to deal with our emotions, good and the bad. Because another thing I have learned is that sometimes life is good and I am just sailing along, and sometimes I feel like a soccer ball taking all the kicks.
I'm hearing the phrase "It is what it is" a lot lately with Christmas during a pandemic looming. And it's true. But if you can accept the negative circumstance (the obstacle), you will be in the right frame of mind to figure out how to make the best of the situation.
Most start-ups aren't profitable their first year, so I'm happy to report that I'm "in the black" this year. This is largely because I've accepted the reality of the pandemic and persevered through all the things I had to learn.
Don't dread the obstacles. Through accurate perceptions, acting intelligently, and perseverance, you will come out on top. That obstacle truly was the opportunity you needed to grow into the person that can handle this.
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: We have two options. Boldly face the challenges ahead, or hold off and hope an asteroid strikes.