When you hear about “overcoming obstacles”, the phrase means different things depending upon your own life experiences. The obvious meaning may be about a physical limitation, an injury, or financial hurdles.
There are basically four different types of obstacles that can be put in our way. As leaders, we must decide both personally and corporately how we are going to overcome or avoid those obstacles. Proper recognition may be most difficult. While some obstacles are instant and become immediately obvious, others are more subtle.
Here is why.
Key events in our life can create big obstacles. These include an accident of some sort, a war wound, a financial crisis, or any other aspect of life that pivots in an instant. Things change immediately and sometimes forever.
Here’s an interview I hosted with Kristin Beale, a young Virginian woman who was injured in a jet ski accident in 2005. Her life has changed drastically, yet she has endured the recovery process as well as redirecting her purpose for living. She now is writing a book “Greater Things”. Her story is a beautiful testimony to finding balance for work, life, and faith when confronted with a big obstacle.
There are people in our life who create obstacles. Relationships may fail. When they do, the other person becomes a potential hurdle to moving forward with life choices and goals. Right now, you might have someone in your life who is presenting a huge challenge for you. Constant bickering or disruption of calm serenity can be overwhelming forces.
Making an effort to resolve this kind of obstacle is seldom easy, but must be done to allow yourself to move forward.
Another key aspect of the people side of understanding obstacles, is that you might be someone else’s obstacle. Ouch! Can it be? Perhaps yes.
You need to be ever-mindful of the possibility that you are, in fact, someone else’s stumbling block. If you sense that at all, you need to make amends and work through a more favorable positioning of that relationship.
This is especially true of managers who have direct reports. Are you making someone’s life miserable by your own actions? Take the occasional look in the mirror.
Yes, things can be obstacles. I am not talking about walls, hills, or other physical boundaries (although those too can be tough to navigate). I am speaking about obsession with certain things that can consume our world and change our direction. Anyone who has a sport, hobby, or holding (cars, boats, real estate, etc.) that controls a majority of time and attention has allowed an obstacle in their life.
Moments dedicated to these things rob you of valuable moments that could be invested elsewhere in building relationships and growing a lifestyle.
Failure to be present in the moment can happen when your mind’s attention or your heart’s affection is pulled away by things.
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the notion that ideas can become obstacles. Following a new found creed or mantra based on some unique idea can possibly become another kind of obstacle.
I caution there is a delicate balance here. Why? Because learning is the acceptance of new ideas and information. While learning is usually a good thing, taking teaching to an extreme can potentially become a hurdle you may have to overcome.
In particular, if you embrace an idea and become especially dogmatic about its implementation in your life and those around you, you just might become that person who is now an obstacle for others (see above).
Balancing fresh ideas with proper integration into life change can be tough. Done properly, there can be growth rather than obstacles.
Obstacles can come from one or all of these areas in our life. Being mindful of the potential for running into an obstacle is the first line of defense. Up, over, around, or through are the usual ways we think of conquering obstacles. I like elimination whenever possible. Finding ways to eliminate the obstacle rather than merely getting around it, is a better long term solution.
[reminder]What kind of obstacles have you seen in your world lately?[/reminder]