Reflections – Using As Step Five To Handling Obstacles

October 28, 2010

The final step of the five-step approach to handling obstacles brings together the learning acquired during the first four steps. Having successfully overcome one obstacle, we will most likely be boosted to continued along our path to achieving our objective.

Often it is a case of once we have done something previously thought of as being beyond our capability, we can at least repeat the endeavour and even improve on it in the future as our confidence develops from having achieved already a positive result.

Excellence in handling obstacles, whilst each may be different in nature, many times comes down to our ability to replicate the mindset and certain actions which we now know to work.

Operating at an optimum level is in itself a question of reaching a certain quality and maintaining the habits that have led to the desired outcome, undoubtedly taking discipline and determination.

Attaining learning insights and using them can be considered the positive side of what we originally believed to be only a negative situation. The presence of an obstacle provides the occasion for expanding our awareness.

As Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has suggested: “There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”

Life is about learning. By acknowledging this and adopting the five-step approach to handling obstacles – Accepting, Embracing, Ignoring, Overcoming and Using – we might begin to welcome hurdles which will, in any case, crop up.

Quite possibly you already have other tried and tested strategies in place for dealing with disruptions and setbacks. That said, hopefully the ideas expressed here have been food for thought. As ever, If you’d like to share your input on the points raised here, please leave a comment below.

Kindest regards.



Reflections – Overcoming As Step Four To Handling Obstacles

October 25, 2010

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it” noted the French dramatist Molière.

Having moved through the first three steps to handling obstacles – accepting, embracing and ignoring – we can now roll up our sleeves and get to work on overcoming the core issue of the obstacle before us.

Reflection and planning are invaluable phases in dealing with an identified hurdle. Yet even with our best intentions, the issue will never be resolved just by these processes. Action is ultimately required in overcoming what is hindering our progress on the path to achieving our objective.

As we face what needs to be resolved we might be surprised to find the issue itself contains the seed to its eventual resolution. Our focused attention may be the missing piece of the puzzle. In any case, we need to “do something. Don’t just stand there, make it happen” as Lee Iacocca once said.

Keeping our objective in mind, we can channel our efforts to deal with what needs to be done. By confronting an issue proactively we can expect to overcome it.

Whether it’s making a phone call, meeting with someone, purchasing an object or any number of other actions, involvement and movement combined with self-belief can lead to eventual success.

Bringing creativity to the question might also be necessary. Sometimes the straightforward option is unavailable to us. Being open to alternative solutions, even those outside of our comfort zone, could mean the difference between our overcoming the impediment or not.

The final step to handling obstacles, that of using the mental boost obtained from successfully dealing with an obstacle to reinforce our determination to reach our goal, will be explored next time. Please feel free to share your input on the issues raised here by submitting a comment below.

Thanks as always for being here.



Reflections – Ignoring As Step Three To Handling Obstacles

October 21, 2010

At first glance this step might appear strange. After all, if we are to deal with what is between us and our objective why should we ignore it? However, by approaching the issue as separate pieces rather one single item, certain parts may be set aside without us needing to engage with them.

For the sake of illustration, let me share a tale from a few years back. My objective was to attend a three-day training course in London starting 9.30am Friday. Everything was duly arranged with the flight booked for noon Thursday from Bologna, Italy.

Late Wednesday afternoon I was advised by the travel agency the flight was canceled, but a place on an earlier flight had been reserved for me. At the airport the next day the ticket office and check-in staff were great. Even at the boarding gate all was fine.

Problems began once we were on the bus to take us to the plane. Due to technical issues we were to be delayed. After much waiting we were told the flight was canceled. Next came an announcement advising us to collect our baggage as alternative flights were available from Verona and Pisa.

From the perspective of finding pieces to ignore, the obstacle came down to the question, ‘Can and will the airline get me to London by 9.30 am Friday?’ Giving them more than twenty-four hours and imposing no limits in terms of routes, I believed the company capable of achieving this.

A number of passengers were upset at missing meetings and ongoing flights out of London. Some travelers decided to abandon the trip altogether. The day was stressful to many. Ignoring the peripheral issues, I chose to focus my efforts and energy on attending the course on Friday morning.

Again the ground crew were excellent, dealing with a plane full of disgruntled people. I eventually found myself on a coach going to Pisa – it was lovely to see the Tower again after many years. At the airport we were boarded in a hurry and so I was on my way to London.

Once in the UK a few of the passengers continued their dispute with the airline staff. However, my objective was the course and I couldn’t see the point of getting embroiled in a protracted and energy sapping situation. I was in London, yes the day had been given over to traveling, but never mind.

Overcoming, the fourth step of the five-step approach to handling obstacles, will be looked at next time. In the meantime, thanks for being here today.


Reflections – Embracing As Step Two To Handling Obstacles

October 18, 2010

Focusing today on the second of the five steps to handling obstacles introduced recently, a few considerations can be made concerning the idea of embracing.

Pema Chödrön said: “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”

I believe the idea need not be limited to people. Any obstacle, barrier, or hurdle standing between us and our goals can likewise be thought of as a teacher, or at least a nugget containing learning.

Engaging calmly with whatever is hampering our advancement need not be considered a loss of time. Perhaps the key to our overall success lies at the heart of what at first glance may be thought of as a distraction or disturbance to us.

I have noticed how despite my desire to complete a task as quickly as possible, it is often during the so-called ‘disruption’ that I’m able to find an idea or solution to eventually take me forward. Being receptive to discovering value in any moment might be the key to its discovery.

When we embrace each moment, treating things and people as they are not as we wish them to be, our situation can take on a new perspective. So often it is the fight against reality which clouds our thinking and causes us to magnify incidents and suchlike into mountains to be scaled.

Additionally, though we may believe we have everything on the path leading to our objectives under our control, there may come times we need to stop and perhaps reassess our options. Blindly continuing what we have always done might not be sensible in the light of new developments.

It seems to come down to a question of whether we are prepared to at least consider learning can come to us in all manner of ways, or not. If we are open, even the aforementioned obstacles can therefore contain nuggets of learning for us.

In the next posting I’ll examine the third step: ignoring aspects of the obstacle which do not directly impact on or impede our progress. If you wish to join the conversation with a comment, I’d love to hear from you. In any case, thanks for stopping by.


Reflections – Accepting As Step 1 To Handling Obstacles

October 14, 2010

Looking in more detail at the five steps to handling obstacles – Accept, Embrace, Ignore, Overcome, Use – let’s begin here with the first step and explore some thoughts around the idea of accepting.

According to the American psychologist and philosopher William James: “Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.”

For me accepting doesn’t mean we have to like what has happened or is occurring at this moment. Certainly if we are talking about obstacles interrupting our path towards reaching goals, it is most probable we will find such things annoying at best with little to like about them.

However, at times such issues need to be dealt with. Not always does everything go according to our plans. In all probability, the more other people are involved in our plans the more likely it will be tricky for us to have everything sailing smoothly at all times.

Yet it’s doubtful by denying their existence, perhaps hoping things aren’t as they are, we will be able to just resume our march. Things happen; fortunately we can choose how we deal with them.

Sometimes we might get lost in the pain of the moment, disappointed in having been knocked off course. Wailing and whining might make us feel good for five minutes, but, unless we decide to abandon our objective, we will have to eventually engage the obstacle.

Whilst being difficult, accepting without judging can help us put the obstacle concerned into a more manageable perspective. As the Buddha said “What is, is.” This is valid also for when we are faced with obstacles any of us may encounter from time to time as we pursue our goals.

Taking a few moments to quietly breathe in the moment can be useful for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the pause gives us time to get our bearings in the new reality. Secondly, we avoid rushing into any actions which might turn out to cause us further damage later on.

With acceptance of the obstacle comes a certain clarity regarding our new situation. From this starting point the second step in handling the obstacle can be taken.

Next time I’ll be focusing on the second step: embracing the obstacle as a potential nugget of learning. For now, thanks for reading this today.



October 7, 2010

Using Intuition

According to the Oxford Dictionary of English, intuition is “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

It is a capacity we all have. The degree of its presence in one’s life usually depends on the individual’s practice and application of it. If we are not accustomed to being sensitive to our intuition or ‘gut-feeling’ then of course it will have little impact on the way we run our lives.

Trusting our intuition is an act of faith in ourselves. It takes effort and determination to liberate ourselves from the conditioning of society which places importance almost exclusively on numbers, majority rulings and safe options.

Yet invariably we know when something is ‘right’ for us. Maybe we can’t put into words why we feel drawn to one solution or decision as opposed to another. It’s our intuition and, despite another’s attempt to dissuade us from our thinking, going against it rarely proves to be right for us.

I read somewhere of a practice of delaying decisions until one has had the chance to sleep on the issue. For a morning person like myself this works well if there is time to delay making the decision. For those who prefer other times of the day, the practice might not be so effective.

If items pop into our heads they usually do so for a reason. Keeping a notepad handy for jotting down ideas, insights and thoughts allows us to maximize our intuition.

The significance or meaning of an intuitive thought might not be immediately clear. As Rumi put it: “bewilderment is intuition.”

However, having it written down permits us to refer to it in a second moment when perhaps we can see better the bigger picture and make the necessary connection in order to benefit from it.

Knowing when to listen, when to speak up and even when to walk away often comes from tuning into our intuition. Certainly there will be occasions which are out of our control, yet for those times we can decide, aligning with our intuition can be a constructive action to take.

Intuition tells me it’s time to stop now. That said, I appreciate you being here today. If you wish to join the conversation and share your thoughts on the issue of intuition, please leave a comment.



September 30, 2010

Questioning Reality

Is our view of life, the reality we have created by our thoughts and actions any less real than that of others? Whilst all is moving forward as planned the answer is most likely to be a resounding no. We might not even have the time or desire to ponder this question as life happily carries us along.

But what about when we hit a roadblock? With our path interrupted, doubts can pop up. Perhaps after all we were being foolish to think we could achieve this or that? Maybe life is letting us know we should stay in our place, keep quiet and just worry about getting through each day as it comes?

How quickly we are knocked off course is an indicator of how attached we were to our objectives in the first place. Setbacks can be reasons to give up. Yet they can also be opportunities to reassess our goals and evaluate progress, before we restart, possibly taking a new route to our objectives.

So how realistic is it for us to believe we can influence our life? Turning the question around, how realistic is it to think we have no impact on what occurs in our life? Our thoughts are certainly ours to think. And we can undertake actions designed to get us to our chosen goals.

With our past decisions, actions and efforts we have reached the point we are at right now. Our life is real for us. Others may wish to judge it as unreal or dreamlike. That’s their right. Such a person’s reality is no less real than ours, nor more so.

Empathizing with them, we might discover in front of us a person living in fear and pain. These people might prefer to attack us, rather than admit to themselves that they too have had – and indeed still have – occasions to improve their existence and live life to the full.

Looking for words to close here, Brian Tracy provides input: “Whatever you believe with feeling becomes your reality.”

Thanks for taking time out to be here today.


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