6 Steps for Overcoming Obstacles

I remember the series "The Superstars" from the late 1970's and even into the 1980's where famous athletes would compete against one another to see who was the best overall athlete.  One of the most interesting parts of the show would always be the obstacle course, where the participants would struggle through a variety of challenges to see which of those involved had the widest range of skills and mobility to overcome and conquer the course in the lowest time.


Many of us can compare our jobs and even our careers to an obstacle course.  Whether it involves the long jump, the rope climb, wall climb, crawling through a tunnel or any number of obstacles, our day to day lives provide a wide variety of challenges and tests that we either overcome or fail while trying.  How often have you faced a challenge for the first time?  When you see this new challenge, how do you proceed in working through or overcoming this challenge?  Let me share a few thoughts with you today to provide some suggestions and encouragement as you face the new obstacles in your life each day.

Not all of us are built for the challenges we face.  I think back to the rope climb on most obstacle courses and this obstacle is hardest for large participants who have a "large load" to support as they climb the rope.  The tire challenge where you run through a series of tires is also best overcome by someone who is nimble in step, a challenge again to larger, less flexible, participants.

To overcome the obstacles in your life, I would suggest the following steps:

1.  Admit there is an obstacle in your path-Until you admit there is an obstacle, you will only be in denial and you will either continue to fail in overcoming the obstacle or you will waste precious time in trying the same method over and over, possibly leading to frustration and even to giving up.  If you admit there is an obstacle, that provides the first step toward conquering this challenge.

2.  Understand what is required to complete or overcome the obstacle-Once you know what you are up against, you can put a plan together to get through or past this obstacle.  This may require thinking or strategy you have not used before.  I would also encourage you to seek the counsel and advice of others when facing a new obstacle.

3.  Keep moving forward, but don't be afraid to detour if possible-Obstacle courses put challenges in a sequential order.  Life is not always sequential, so there may be some obstacles that can be put off until later.  Don't mistake this for avoiding the obstacle.  What my point is here is that you may need to conquer something else first in order to get over your biggest hurdle.

4.  Pain is not optional-Obstacle courses will provide you with pain you may have never suffered before.  Pain is not a bad thing and it can help us to grow and sustain ourselves in future endeavors.  Too much pain is a signal to stop or recharge, but there will always be some pain.  It is unavoidable.

5.  Celebrate the success of completion-When you finish the course, take the time to celebrate and reflect on what you have overcome.  You can learn much from obstacles you overcome and you may learn much from obstacles you have never conquered.  Just knowing what your limits are can help you as you move through your life and your career.

6.  Encourage others in their personal obstacles-Each of us need encouragement from others when we are faced with obstacles.  So too should we support and encourage our friends and co-workers as they face the challenges in their lives.  When someone share their own personal obstacles with you, take the time to help them with any similar circumstances you may have faced or overcome

Obstacle courses may not be fun while you are in the midst of the course, but the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when they are conquered is hard to describe.  Only by facing and overcoming our own personal challenges can we too grow and learn.