Tag Archives: Obstacles

Obstacles or Opportunities

Motivation conceptThere are times when you run into a challenge or a problem that you just have to figure out how to get around.  It seems like these times always come at the worst possible moment, when you are swamped with things to do, have pressing deadlines or you have reach the point of burnout and need a break.  Whenever these occur keep in mind that they can be a road block or they can be an opportunity to learn.  How you handle it as a leader or project manager will impact the team around you as well.  You set the tone for the rest of the team.

I know that it’s become cliché to say “we don’t have problems we have opportunities” however there is a great mindset hidden in those words.  If you look at every problem as a challenge or an obstacle than they will often keep you from moving forward.  If you turn your thinking around you can look for the opportunity to learn a new skill or finally defeat an old fear.  It really is up to you.

To help you shift your mindset to looking past the obstacles here are 5 strategies:

  1. Stay positive:  Avoid falling into the mindset that things never go well, that bad things happen, or that this will never work.  Focus on the end result or goal, and take time to look at the good things that are happening.
  2. Avoid pessimists:  You will find people who are like Eeyore who think everything is horrible and doom and gloom.  Avoid them at all costs.  Spend your time around people who accept that stuff happens but look for a way forward.  Who you spend time with will impact your ability to bounce back.
  3. Be grateful:  Yes it sounds trite and it can be hard to do when things get tough.  However, there are always things around you that are good so take the time to notice and appreciate them.  Say thank you to people who help you with your challenges.
  4. Be open:  Odds are there is something new you can learn to solve the problem so be open to new ideas, new methods, and new thoughts.  These will help you find new solutions and get past the challenge quicker.  If you want to move beyond where you are today you need to develop new skills and new knowledge.  Look for those nuggets within your current challenge.
  5. Relax:  The good news is that this too shall pass.  Nothing stays great or horrible forever.  There are times when you just have to hang on and let things improve with time.  Sit back take some deep breaths and clear your mind for a few moments.  Shut out the negative thoughts and pressures to just calm yourself.  Find time to unwind from the pressures for even 10 minutes and you will be better ready to get back to it.

While these are all simple things it can be tough to accomplish them when you feel like everything is going wrong.  It takes discipline and resolve to keep these in your mind as you are facing a challenge or obstacle.  Keep calm and it will work out.

It is important to surround yourself with people who will help by giving you ideas, support or just a shoulder to lean on.  Who you are with has a huge impact on your thoughts and feelings.  There are people you can’t avoid who may be “Debby Downers” and want to suck everyone down with them.  Work with them when needed and avoid them otherwise.  Go to lunch with people who will make you smile and laugh not ones who will moan and groan the whole time.  Pick your surroundings carefully.

Focus is a critical component of creating a mindset that helps you get past the obstacles in your path.  The more you focus on the good in your world the more good you will see so the more good there will be in your world.  It doesn’t mean that negative things will never happen, they will but how you react to them determines the outcome of those events.  If you focus on problems you will have problems everywhere.

Whether you are faced with an obstacle or an opportunity to grow is up to you.  How you view the situation will determine which one of these things experiences you have.  Look for the positive in a bad situation and you will find your way out of the ugliness more easily.

Albert Einstein said it best “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  Choose your thinking carefully and make it a great opportunity to learn.


Filed under Personal Development, Project Management

What Happens When You Hit a Wall?

brick wallWe’ve all had occasions where we run into a brick wall at work.  Maybe it’s being denied a promotion or it’s a difficult co-worker that sabotages your efforts or it’s a lack of resources to complete a project properly.  Whatever it is they exist and how we deal with them speaks volumes about our leadership style and abilities.

There are four basic personality types when it comes to obstacles:

  1. Bulldog: This person keeps gnawing away at the problem until he gets through it or exhausts himself.
  2. Turtle: This person withdraws into their shell when they encounter a problem and hide until it goes away.
  3. Sheep:  This person will look around for someone to lead them out of the situation, waiting until someone else shows them the way forward.
  4. Mountain Goat:  This person will look for a way to get around or over the problem.

Each of these will work well in some circumstances but most will not work well in all situations.

If you are a bulldog and keep at a problem no matter what is happening around you people will get tired of your aggression.  There are occasions where you need to get help to solve the problem.  Pushing ahead no matter what will alienate people.

Always crumbling when confronted with a problem will cause people to view you as weak.  It takes courage to face problems and obstacles head on.  People will respect those who know when to take a stand and when it’s time to walk away.  Some situations just are not worth the effort of resolving the problem so cut your losses and move on.

When you look around for someone to rescue you, again you will be seen as weak and indecisive.  There are times when you must get help or direction to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle.  However, make sure you have explored your options and know what help you need before you seek assistance.

People how take a moment or two to assess the situation and look for a way to reach their destination by going around or working through the problem have a real advantage.  You may need guidance to find the path forward but you are actively looking for solutions and opportunities to reach your goal.  This can demonstrate tenacity and courage.  Care must be taken to know if that goal is still the right destination by looking at the risks involved with moving ahead in spite of the obstacles.

Leaders must make decisions about what goals are important and how to help people reach them.  That means being aware of the brick walls that appear in the path and having the ability to determine the best approach to getting around them.  Do you charge ahead and tear down the wall, do you wait for help, do you step back and wait for it to fall, or do you find a way around or over the wall?  Learning which approach will work best in different situations is key to becoming a more effective leader.


Filed under Leadership, Personal Development