Suppose someone has a largish rock in the middle of their lawn. Every mowing requires working around it. Probably a little trimmer action too. Every spring, the rock grows a little further out of the ground. The rock is an obstacle.
Rocks are like icebergs. The big part is below the surface, so there is no easy solution. What to do?
All of life’s obstacles are like this. They are a nuisance, or they prevent the completion of some task, or they prevent the achievement of some goal. They do not go away on their own. Life’s obstacles can be accommodated or they can be overcome. Here is how to start.
Step 1. Go somewhere quiet and review what it is that you are trying to accomplish and how the obstacle is a blemish on that plan.
Step 2. Imagine that the obstacle is vastly bigger than it is now. The rock has consumed half the lawn or divided into many parts.
Step 3. Imagine what you would do to resolve the obstacle now that it is too big to be accommodated.
Step 4. Devise a plan to eliminate, or manage the obstacle.
Step 5. Implement, review and revise.
You make it big because tiny obstacles are nearly always accommodated even though the accumulation of many tiny obstacles is the more formidable problem. It is a bad habit to accommodate things that deter you from reaching your goals. Bad habits are themselves obstacles to success.
Be sure to reflect on why it is an obstacle. Look to Henry Ford for perspective on the question.
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
Eliminating obstacles can be good. Nevertheless, be a little slow to obliterate them. Many contain valuable lessons. Sometimes the obstacle includes the key to an opportunity.
Sometimes, even usually, there is no external obstacle. Just a symptom that results from some internal error. Being fat is not an obstacle even though it may prevent some things you would like to do. For most people, the fat obstacle is being undisciplined enough to miss out on eating properly or on exercising sufficiently. Many obstacles are just the symptom that arises from some underlying shortfall. With the required change, the obstacle disappears automatically.
Never study obstacles in isolation. Always see them in the context of what achievement the obstacle prevents. Without the achievement aspect, it is difficult to motivate yourself enough to plan and execute the fix. If it must remain, develop a process that minimizes its impact on your goal.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: email@example.com