“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.” — Ben Carson, Gifted Hands
In his book Meditations, Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius declared: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” He was referring to the obstacles which stand in the way of success to reveal the path ahead. Do you believe this to be true? Have you seen evidence how the very thing that stands in the way, can actually be The Way? Consider the following tale to underline this ideal.
Two identical acorns from the same oak tree are planted in distinct locations. One is grown in the middle of a dense forest while the other on a steep hill by itself. The oak on the steep hillside is exposed to frequent storms and fierce gale winds. As a result, its roots plummet deep into the earth spreading in every direction, enfolding giant boulders to secure its position. While the tree isn’t growing fast enough, the growth is occurring underground.
It is as though the roots know they must protect the tree from the threatening elements by positioning itself firmly beneath the soil. The acorn planted in the forest becomes a weak, frail sapling having to compete with other giant oaks for nutrients and space. Since protected by neighbouring trees larger and stronger, the little oak does not see the need to spread its roots for support.
Obstacles compel us to turn our weaknesses into strengths, instead of cowering from them. They exist not to be surrendered to but to be overcome, for in overcoming do we gain the inner conviction and resilience to succeed. Obstacles illuminate the path to success by exposing challenges, thus ensuring victory becomes attainable; they are goal-posts leading us towards achievement.
Consider your most recent motivation to pursue a goal. What obstacles emerged along the way? How did you overcome them? What insights did you gain? For several clients whom I’ve worked with over the years, the single biggest impediment to success occurs months into their wellness campaign. Enthusiasm gives rise to unforeseen obstacles which impose upon their success to lose weight or improve their health. Yet contained within each obstacle, is a renewed optimism to gain valuable lessons and key insights.
Problems Contain The Seed Of Opportunity
“Resilience and Motivation are two of the critical abilities for which Winner’s Brains are wired.” — Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske
Obstacles highlight limiting beliefs or inner conflicts, which need our attention. It is the opportunity to reconcile with facets of our character opposed to the obstacle. Take for example the fear of success, which cripples individuals well before they set out towards their goal. By attending to our fears, we are better suited to savour the victory when it arrives.
A successful person inundated with fear is no more successful than the sum of his fears, that loom over him like a dark cloud. Obstacles reinforce a resilient mindset by allowing us to develop mental fortitude, mainly when victory is attainable. It underscores the person we need to become in light of the obstacles faced. Comparable to the acorn tree roots that plummet deep into the earth, life exposes weeds within our psyche, if we remain attentive to the lessons learned.
Thus, obstacles serve as vital mental and emotional growth. This is the message espoused by authors Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske who write in their book The Winner’s Brain: “Resilience and Motivation are two of the critical abilities for which Winner’s Brains are wired.”
The Personal Discovery Of A Gift
“When we believe what we think, when we take our thinking to be reality, we will suffer.” — Adyashanti
Do you consider your obstacles are transitory or permanent? Are you beginning to see how your thoughts related to the obstacles may be the very thing that stands in the way of your success? Considering this, our reaction to the obstacles highlights an error in our thinking and this is what needs our attention most.
We should appreciate that nothing is fixed nor permanent. Life is subject to change and fluctuations, which rise and fall with the seasons. Every so-called problem contains the seed of opportunity and the womb of creation. If we stay attentive to the lessons, we transform the experience into personal triumph.
Our obstacles can lead to breakthroughs since they reinforce vital clues that lead to success. Every attempt to overcome an obstacle strengthens a pathway to success. It is not in overcoming the obstacle that we prevail, it is being observant to the lessons learned that we gain valuable insights. As you reflect on your recent challenges, pause to consider the lessons learned to overcome them.
Contemplate your answer to the following question: “What does the greater intelligence within me seek to learn from this experience?” There is always a greater lesson vested in the personal discovery of a gift you are yet to harness. As you awaken that potential, the path toward success is illuminated.