What’s Blocking Your Path Today?

The other morning I was out running 4 miles on the local nature trail. As I came around a bend, I saw in the distance that a tree had fallen and its branches were laying across the path.

As I got closer, I watched a jogger reach the branches and then turn around, heading back past me. A cyclist did the same thing, reaching the blockage and then retreating in the direction he had come.

I had to make a choice. I was not ready to head back yet. If I did, it would cut my morning run short and I would not get the exercise I wanted.

As I reached the obstruction, I surveyed the area. The tree was fairly large. I looked to see if I could go off the trail to go around the branches. On one side was the tree itself and on the other was a small creek.

Just as the obstacle was starting to appear impenetrable, I noticed that with a couple skillful steps, I could go through the branches.

And that was what I did… I stepped right through the blockade.

With a few steps over and between, I was on the other side. And I continued my run…

What’s Blocking Your Path?

In our daily lives, many things get in our way. Things that prevent us from getting our work done, and stop us from reaching our goals.

While you cannot stop obstacles from appearing, you can choose how you deal with them. Sometimes, it is a matter of perspective. Other times, it is a matter of effort.

One of the best analogies on obstacles was from my former teacher and mentor Randy Pausch. Randy called obstacles “brick walls” and here is how he thought of them:

“Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.”

– Randy Pausch

So, how badly do you want it? How important is it to you to overcome your obstacles?

Here are a few tactics to help you overcome the “brick walls” in your life:

  • Go Around, Through, or Over – Get tough. Most obstacles look more formidable from a distance than they really are. Can you simply sidestep, climb over, or go through your obstacle? Many times you can.
  • Think OUTSIDE the Box – Sometimes the answers are right in front of you. Or rather the tools are. When you find yourself inadequately prepared for a situation… get creative. Many people will give up because they do not think they have the tools needed to do a task. Sometimes you can “MacGyver” your solution out of other supplies and items available.
  • Find a Different Path – People often turn back from their goals because they don’t realize there are more than one path to success. Don’t limit your thinking that there is only one way, one job, or one career to reach your goals.
  • Don’t Take No For An Answer – Kids are great at not taking “no” for an answer. However, somewhere along the road we lose that, we begin to accept “no” as a final answer. Don’t be afraid to challenge “No.” Sometimes you have to ask many times (or in different ways) to get to “Yes.”
  • Break the Rules – Of course, one way to overcome rules and obstacles is to ignore them. Many rules that you may encounter are simply “red tape.” If you do use this tactic, you may get some pushback or flak, after all, “You can’t do it that! It’s against the rules!”

How Badly Do You Want to Reach Your Goals?

Obstacles can only stop you if you let them. It may take more time, effort, (and sometimes money), but you can overcome any obstacle with enough desire.

And remember… the “brick walls” are there to make you prove how badly you want it… and to keep the other people out.

What’s blocking your path today? And what are you going to do about it?

Related Posts:

The Secrets of Plan B

Staying On Target With Your Tasks

10 thoughts on “What’s Blocking Your Path Today?

  1. How very true and well said! I recently was mentoring a department manager who used obstacles as an excuse for not performing, not attaining goals. I tried to explain that though the obstacles were real, when you allow them to be the reason for not hitting goals, the obstacle becomes an excuse.

    An obstacle should not be an excuse!

    When you allow an obstacle to become an excuse you will have difficulty hitting goals, slow improvement, not learn strategies for future obstacles, and develop a thought process, a mind set that does not look for solutions.

    PS I’m sending this post to the manager.

  2. I did not know that you are a student of Randy Pausch. I really respect Randy for his bravery and humor in his last lecture.

    No, I am not Randy's student but I really love his last lecture and his book.

  3. Andrian, thanks for the note.

    I had the privilege of having Randy Pausch as my professor and student advisor while at the University of Virginia.

    His User Interface design class was one of my favorites of all time, and I still have his coursework on my bookshelf.

  4. Randy, thanks!

    I agree with you. I think too often people use obstacles as excuses without first considering what it would take to overcome them. 🙂

  5. When you dont do something it is because, in my opinion, you are scared of failure. If you make excuses it spares you the feeling that you are worthless. I have no problem with practical tasks it is as you say, money, time, expertise etc but when my ego is on the line I have no confidence and if I dont try then I dont fail either. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone isnt easy, the older you get the more you are used to taking the safe routes.

  6. Jan, you are right very few people want to make decisions, because he or she does not want to be wrong. You are not alone. Everyone is afraid of making a poor decision. Do your homework; make the best decision you can on the information available, because making no decision is a decision, and probably a poor one.

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