July 1, 2021

Turning Obstacles into Opportunity

It’s no secret that 2020 brought uncertainty and hardships. Any sense of normalcy went out the window.  Social distancing, ever-changing CDC guidelines, “unprecedented times”, and increasing unemployment proved to be persistent challenges. People rang in the New Year hopeful and eager to get back to business as usual. Though 2021 is proving to be an improvement from last year, the truth is, there will always be unexpected situations. There will always be problems to deal with. Did you use 2020 as an intentional opportunity to adapt and grow?

When faced with a challenge, there are two choices: let the challenge overcome you, or overcome the challenge. How do you turn those obstacles into opportunities? The past year was hard for recruiters. Companies were looking to lay-off workers, not hire them. Many roadblocks littered the path to success. To fortify their minds and center their work, the team at ThinkingAhead rallied around the teachings of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and Stoic. Aurelius once said, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Opposition to your goals can bring growth, innovation, and breakthrough. Aurelius proposed that the impediment becomes the way by practicing three disciplines:

The Discipline of Perception

Perception is how we understand and interpret the information around us. When flooded with emotion, the situation before you may seem overwhelming, confusing, and too hard to handle. You can’t see the picture clearly. Take a deep breath, acknowledge the feelings, and then let them go. Step back and re-evaluate. You can choose to see a log in your path, or you can see a bridge to the other side. We regain control when we reframe a problem. Perception directly impacts attitude. And attitude influences action.

The Discipline of Action

Action is how we relate to others. Sometimes we become so engrossed in our own problems that we forget we are a part of something bigger. Refocusing on the team and the greater good reminds us that there is more than our immediate reality. Treat everyone with kindness and respect – including yourself. Act on what you know to be just, fair, and wise. When the actions of others or unexpected events obstruct our plans, we adapt through action. When you have the opportunity to respond, take the next right step.

The Discipline of Will

Will is our internal power and fixed intention. Sometimes, you have no control over circumstances. But, you do have control over your attitude. The only thing that can inhibit you, is what you let inhibit you. You can choose to turn negative situations into learning experiences. That requires letting go of what cannot be changed and turning it into something purposeful.

When the next obstacle comes your way, how will you respond?

For more on this topic, read The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday.