While hiking through the woods on a trail that you’ve never traveled on, you pass beautiful trees, wildflowers, and many small forest creatures. The hike has been trying at times but nothing you can’t handle. You know multiple people who’ve been on this hike and have seen their photos of the gorgeous ocean view that waits at the top. This trek is an opportunity to see the ocean in a way that you can’t see anywhere else.
As you reach the mid-point of the hike, a piece of the trail breaks away beneath you and you begin to slide down a steep slope. You can’t seem to stop yourself and you finally come to a rest about 25 feet below the trail. You’re scraped up but not seriously injured. While scanning your surroundings, you notice a knotted rope, secured to a tree, that goes directly up the slope to the remainder of the trail. You also notice a separate path right next to you, with a big sign that reads, “Parking lot this way!”
At this point in your journey, there’s no doubt that you’re exhausted and a little shaken up. But you’re now presented with a difficult obstacle. Do you climb the rope and finish the hike, risking another trip down the embankment? Or do you take the safe route and head on back to the parking lot? In this scenario there are many ways that you could view the obstacle. How you choose to view it will make all the difference in your decision to give up or continue onward.
Change Your Reaction
The first step in continuing onward despite your obstacles is changing the way you view them. Yes, they are challenges and yes, they have slowed you down. However, they don’t have to stop you completely, and you shouldn’t let them. Instead, identify the problem you’re facing, without having a negative reaction. Don’t think “I have to climb this rope now. This is going to be too difficult.” or “What if I slide back down again?” You don’t have to be overly optimistic about it, but take the challenge at face value. Think, “I fell off the trail. That rope gets me back to the trail.”
If you remove the emotion from the situation and think about it logically, you can face any challenge. Looking at obstacles through a lens of neutrality will also help you make clearer decisions without getting as flustered or overwhelmed. Evaluate the problem from a third-person perspective.
It also helps to remind yourself that obstacles are bound to present themselves eventually, and every time they do, it’ll feel inconvenient. This obstacle just happened to appear at this moment. Obstacles will also fluctuate in difficulty, but they’re an inescapable part of life, so it’s best to take them one at a time.
Recognize the Opportunities
Start to view the challenge as inevitable, and you’ll see it as something that has happened versus something that has happened to you. At this point you can begin analyzing the different ways that this obstacle is an opportunity. Now you can look at the rope as an opportunity to test your strength—by climbing the rope! You probably haven’t done that since gym class. With this obstacle (and all obstacles in life), the hard work and the risk are always worth the reward, and often make it taste even sweeter.
Falling down the hill and climbing back up can also be framed as a learning experience to help improve your next hike. Now you know that trails aren’t always sturdy, and you should always be ready for unexpected challenges. This scenario will help you to better prepare for future hikes and anticipate any other obstacles that may come your way.
Not every obstacle in life is a delayed hiking trip. When challenges arise, look at them with a neutral style of thinking. Realize that they should all be seen as opportunities to grow, learn, and improve. When you schedule a meeting with someone and they don’t show up, avoid thinking “Why would they do that to me? Now I’ve wasted my time getting to this coffee shop.” Instead, look at it as a window of time that’s now free for you to schedule meetings with others, meet new people, or read about new ways to improve yourself and your business.
Admire Your Experience
As you grip the rope and dig your feet into the steep hill, your back and leg muscles tighten and you ascend, one step at a time. Hand-over-hand you get closer and closer to the trail. At the top, you heave your weight forward and throw yourself onto the trail. Standing up, you dust off your clothes and begin the final stretch of the hike. At the last few feet of the hike, there are beams of sun breaking through the tree line and the faint noise of crashing waves. From the crest of the hill your eyes fall upon the horizon. It was a tough trek but so worth the view. You sit down on the hill and watch the ocean spray rise and fall back to the sand below. Aren’t you glad you climbed the rope?
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