The obstacle is the way
That’s the title of a book I am digesting. The content focuses on how to deal with perceived setbacks and make them into tools for greatness instead. It set me thinking about how I deal with setbacks in my own life. While I muse, I want to include you, give you a chance to wrestle with these truths alongside me. So when I say “you”, know that I am also talking to myself.
So how do you react to adversity and obstacles? How do you react when a longtime rival gets the promotion you wanted? When you wrote a 20,000 word essay and then with one accidental keystroke, your computer deletes it all? When someone you thought believed in you says you can’t do something? When what you thought was going to be a great decision, failed instead?
Blessings and burdens are not mutually exclusive. What seems like a burden can actually be a blessing. A job loss (perceived burden) can be a blessing because it frees you up to accept a better position. Having to rewrite an essay (perceived burden) forces you to think a little bit longer about the subject, and maybe write something that much more brilliant.
Bo Jackson is the only athlete to have ever been named an All Star in both football and baseball. But Jackson’s baseball career only began when a hip injury ended his stunning football legacy. His place in history was only secured because he didn’t let adversity sideline him.
Socrates had a mean, nagging wife (or so they say – she might just have been grossly misunderstood) but the wise man that he was, he credits her with helping him become a better philosopher. He’s not known for being a great husband but we quote his philosophical sayings all the time.
Steve Jobs got fired from a company he started by a board he handpicked and returned to its helm to be the stronger force we admire and will be studying for decades to come. Talk about rivals. Talk about adversity. Talk about repaving the obstacle so it becomes the way.
Rivals and obstacles can bless us:
- they keep us alert and focused
- they raise the stakes and make us that much more motivated to prove them wrong
- they harden us
- they help us appreciate the good in our lives
- they provide an instruction manual on what not to do
We have to see adversity as opportunity. The obstacle is only the obstacle if you let it stop you from moving forward. The obstacle becomes the way, if you let it propel you forward. Our rivals will fail if we let them. Take what they intended for bad and make it work for our good. You might have heard that line before because it’s mentioned in The Bible. It doesn’t matter where you learn the lesson, it’s always a great lesson to learn.
I’m currently reading The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday. Holiday’s first book Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator was also a national bestseller.
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