The Impediment to Action Advances Action
Marcus Aurelius said that.
Here is the complete quote: “Our actions may be impeded, but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
It’s profound and so true. Every obstacle you face is the way to advance your next action. What stands in the way becomes the way. Action is the solution and the cure to our predicaments.
“The Things which hurt,” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Instruct.”
The struggles we face offer us a path to growth and success. It’s a counter-intuitive concept to be sure, but it is perhaps the single most important concept that any entrepreneur can learn: how to embrace challenges.
The simple truth is that in any given situation, the only thing that you truly have control over is yourself. As difficult as it may seem, you always have the choice to recognize the obstacle for what it is, find something positive, and work like hell to push through it.
EPICTETUS says, “In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices.”
Obstacles are uncomfortable, stressful, and can be scary. Sometimes it can feel so overwhelming that you’re not sure how to keep going. However, if you can embrace the impediment that stands before you, accept the problem as it is and prepare to challenge it, and take action despite the present setback, you can find the way that you didn’t know was there.
Imagine the power you’d have in your life if all the things that trouble everyone else – how much money they have, how long they have left to live, how they will die – didn’t matter so much.
What if, where others were upset, envious, excited, possessive, or greedy, you were objective, calm, and clearheaded? Imagine what it would do for your life and work.
Don’t underrate your power to accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.
Chris Myers explains: “The challenges and problems we face in our lives represent the roadmap to greatness. Whether we choose to follow that map is up to us. There is no secret formula for success. The only thing you need is the will to confront your struggles, the desire to find the joy in even the darkest times, and the determination to keep moving forward no matter what.”
Every obstacle is the way forward
“I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no availI will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.” — Og Mandino
You will come across obstacles in life — fair and unfair.
And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.
You will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming — or possibly thriving because of — them.
History is littered with examples of people who have managed to overcome and thrive on the struggles they experience.
On Dec. 10, 1914, a massive explosion erupted in West Orange, New Jersey. Ten buildings in legendary inventor Thomas Edison’s plant, which made up more than half of the site, were engulfed in flames. Machinery worth millions and all the papers pertaining to his lifelong research were burnt to ashes.
Later, at the scene of the blaze, Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.”
Thomas Edison’s persistence was exemplified in his famous quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
A.H. Wilson, his vice president and general manager, told The Times after the flames died down: “There’s only one thing to do, and that is to jump right in and rebuild.”
In the book, “The Obstacle Is the Way”, Ryan Holiday writes, “Overcoming obstacles is a discipline of three critical steps. It begins with how we look at our specific problems, our attitude or approach; then the energy and creativity with which we actively break them down and turn them into opportunities; finally, the cultivation and maintenance of an inner will that allows us to handle defeat and difficulty. It’s three interdependent, interconnected, and fluidly contingent disciplines: Perception, Action, and the Will.”
People who persist no matter the obstacles, sooner or later are bound to succeed. Despite the setbacks, it’s in your best interest to turn obstacles into stepping stones. Don’t choose to complain, or worse, to just give up. These choices do nothing to get you across the finish line.
Elbert Hubbard once said “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”
The obstacle in your path is the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.
The results you want can take twice as long. Don’t quit because you can’t figure out the process. Embrace and enjoy the journey.
Consistent hustle always wins.
Whatever you obstacle, tough times happen for everyone. Understand that each battle is only one of many and that you can use it to make the next one easier. It’s important to mentally prepare yourself for the changes that will come down the road.
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