The Obstacle Is The Way: 10 Strategies For Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities
10 STRATEGIES FOR TURNING
“THE OBSTACLE IN THE PATH BECOMES THE PATH.
NEVER FORGET, WITHIN EVERY OBSTACLE IS AN
OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE OUR CONDITION.”
- Zen Parable
What if in every obstacle you faced there was
a benefit you could win from it?
WHAT IF YOU HAD THE ABILITY TO FLIP YOUR
OBSTACLES AND TURN THEM INTO OPPORTUNITIES?
Here are 10 historical strategies for doing just that—
practiced by great men and women throughout the centuries.
#1 ALTER YOUR PERSPECTIVE
“MAN DOES NOT SIMPLY EXIST BUT ALWAYS DECIDES WHAT
HIS EXISTENCE WILL BE, WHAT HE WILL BECOME THE NEXT
We chose how we look at things. How we approach an obstacle
determines how daunting it will be to overcome.
By controlling our irrational emotions, we are able to see thing as
they are, not as we perceive them to be.
THINK OF IT AS SELECTIVE EDITING—NOT TO DECEIVE
OTHERS, BUT TO PROPERLY ORIENT OURSELVES.
Where the head goes, the body follows. Perception precedes action.
Right action follows the right perspective.
#2 FLIP THE OBSTACLE ON ITS HEAD
“THERE IS GOOD IN EVERYTHING, IF ONLY WE LOOK FOR IT.”
- Laura Ingalls Wilder
The events that we initially perceive as negative all contain a positive, exposed benefit
that we can recognize and act on.
A computer glitch that destroys your work is now a means to make it twice as good
because you’re better prepared.
Having a terrible boss is now an opportunity to learn from his faults while you fill up
your resume and look for better jobs elsewhere.
NOTICE THIS IS A COMPLETE MENTAL FLIP:
SEEING THROUGH THE NEGATIVE, PAST ITS UNDERSIDE
AND THROUGH TO THE POSITIVE.
#3 STAY MOVING,ALWAYS
“WE MUST ALL EITHER WEAR OUT OR RUST OUT, EVERY ONE OF US.
MY CHOICE IS TO WEAR OUT.”
- Theodore Roosevelt
Those who attack problems and life with
most initiative and energy usually win.
COURAGE IS REALLY JUST TAKING ACTION.
START BY SAYING YES TO CREATE
MOMENTUM AND YOU’LL BE ON YOUR WAY.
Obstacles seem more intimidating
when we stop to look up at them.
CHEAPLY AND QUICKLY
“WHAT IS DEFEAT? NOTHING BUT EDUCATION; NOTHING BUT THE
FIRST STEPS TO SOMETHING BETTER.”
- Wendell Phillips
ENGINEERS NOW LIKE TO QUIP:
FAILURE IS A FEATURE.
There’s nothing wrong with being wrong. Each time it
happens, new options open up to us and problems can be
flipped into opportunities.
When failure does come ask: Why did this happen? This helps
birth alternative ways of doing what needs to be done. Failure
puts you in corners you have to think your way out of and is a
source of breakthroughs.
#5 FOLLOW THE PROCESS
“UNDER THE COMB THE TANGLE AND THE STRAIGHT PATH ARE
IN THE CHAOS OF LIFE, PROCESS
PROVIDES US A WAY.
For whatever obstacles you come across, take a breath,
do the immediate, composite part in front of you—and
follow its thread into the next action.
The process is about doing the little things, right now.
Not worrying about what might happen later, or the
results, or the whole picture.
#6 WHAT’S RIGHT IS WHAT WORKS
“I DON’T CARE IF THE CAT IS BLACK OR WHITE, SO LONG AS IT
- Deng Xiaoping
We spend a lot of time thinking about how things are supposed to be.
As they say in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, it doesn’t matter how you get our
opponent to the ground, only that you take them down.
Start thinking like a radical pragmatist: not on changing the world right
at this moment, but ambitious enough to get everything you need.
THINK PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.
#7 USE THE FLANK ATTACK
“WHERE LITTLE DANGER IS APPREHENDED, THE MORE THE ENEMY
WILL BE UNPREPARED AND CONSEQUENTLY THERE IS THE FAIREST
PROSPECT OF SUCCESS.”
- George Washington
Think about this: In a study of more than 280
military campaigns, only two percent were
decided on a direct attack on the enemy’s
BEING OVERMATCHED DON’T
HAVE TO BE A DISADVANTAGE.
It forces us to find workarounds, instead of
challenging our enemy head on.
Remember, sometimes the longest way around
is the shortest way home.
#8 USE THE OBSTACLE AGAINST ITSELF
“WISE MEN ARE ABLE TO MAKE A FITTING USE EVEN OF THEIR ENEMIES.”
Action has many definitions. Sometimes you
overcome obstacles not by attacking them but
by withdrawing and letting them attack you.
A castle can be an intimidating, impenetrable
fortress, or it can be turned into a prison when
surrounded. The difference is simply a shift in
action and approach.
SO INSTEAD OF FIGHTING OBSTACLES,
FIND A MEANS OF MAKING THEM
#9 SEIZE THE OFFENSIVE
“THE BEST MEN ARE NOT THOSE WHO HAVE WAITED FOR CHANCES
BUT WHO HAVE TAKEN THEM; BESIEGED CHANCE, CONQUERED THE
CHANGE, AND MADE CHANCE THE SERVITOR.”
- E.H. Chapin
Ordinary people shy away from negative situations and
avoid trouble. What great people do is the opposite.
THEY NEVER WASTE AN OPPORTUNITY TO FLIP A
PERSONAL TRAGEDY OR CRISIS TO THEIR ADVANTAGE.
At certain moments in our brief existences we are
faced with great trials. We must see that this “problem”
presents an opportunity for a solution that we have long
been waiting for.
#10 FOCUS ON SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOURSELF
“A MAN’S JOB IS TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE IN, SO
FAR AS HE IS ABLE—ALWAYS REMEMBERING THE RESULTS WILL BE
INFINITESIMAL AND TO ATTEND TO HIS OWN SOUL.”
Sometimes when we are personally stuck with some impossible
problem, one of the best ways to create opportunities or new
avenues for movement is to think:
IF I CAN’T SOLVE THIS FOR MYSELF, HOW CAN I AT
LEAST MAKE THIS BETTER FOR OTHER PEOPLE?
You’ll be shocked by how much of the hopelessness lifts when we reach
that conclusion—the strength that comes by thinking of people other
“The impediment to action advances action.
What stands in the way becomes the way.”
Turn adversity into advantage and your
obstacles into opportunity with
THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY
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