3 Great Things About Obstacles

Obstacles genuinely suck.

Finding something “great” about them is not easy and most of the time can only be seen in retrospect. When you’re in the midst of plans falling apart, nothing can possibly seem good when it comes to obstacles and even suggesting any kind of silver-lining at the time can sound crazy or at least really annoying.

1) Obstacles can create delays that give you new insight.

No one wants to stop a plan once it’s rolling and when you’re forced to stop because of an obstacle, it is hard to see any good at the time.

A lot depends on your attitude towards both the plan and the obstacle. If you’re looking for an excuse to quit, obstacles can be just that, your excuse, but only if you let them. I’ve had many obstacles present themselves that would’ve sounded perfectly understandable as to why I gave up on an idea, a plan or pursuit.

The problem with that thinking is that there will always be obstacles.

It’s not like I haven’t ever thrown in the towel on a plan, I have, lots of times. I’ve also kept pursuing an idea for far too long. Mistakes are great teachers, but only if you pay attention.

Sometimes the thing that goes wrong, the obstacle that eats more of the clock than you ever thought possible is a gift. A gift of time that you would not have had to see the giant holes in your plan, holes that would have been far more catastrophic than the obstacle at hand delaying that plan.

2) Obstacles can create new ideas.

What if all that’s necessary for a goal to happen is for you to see a new way to make it happen?

Maybe you went with the first idea because it seemed great at the time, plus it was right there in front of you.

We’ve all told ourselves a story about how ideas are going to work and that story can seem very real, but in retrospect it was just that, a story.

Ideas are easy and cheap before they become plans. Once those ideas have become a plan that is being executed, making changes is more expensive and time consuming.

If you’ve run into an obstacle in a plan that’s rolling, use that time to create as many ideas as you can, if possible.

3) Obstacles can send you in completely new directions.

When your plan hits an obstacle that stops everything, cold, there doesn’t seem to be much to be happy about and for good reason. If you’ve been working your ass off trying to make an idea a reality and fail, glass half-full thinking is not the most accessible.

If you failed, ask yourself one question: What did I learn?

Hopefully you learned a lot in the pursuit of an idea. I always do, but sometimes it’s not obvious what all the lessons were. At least not for a while.

Change can be the result. Not only you changing, but your ideas, how you see the world and how you will pursue the next idea.

If you look at the history of most successes, there is a lot of past failure leading up to that success. The game is to keep going and sometimes that involves going in a completely new direction. And that can be a lot of fun!

My favorite saying, which I quote all the time, is “Improvise, adapt & overcome.” Three words that say a lot about the mindset needed to find solutions to obstacles, while also offering no solutions.