Obstacles, Challenges and the Remarkable Leader

I have recently noticed how people, including myself from time to time, can react to difficulty and challenges in life by thinking this is not what I am supposed to be doing. This is too difficult, I need to turn around, stop, or quit. I have also noticed after a quick assessment of everything great I have ever done in my life, that each of those great outcomes I experienced came on the other side of difficulty and challenges. Quitting is not the answer, persistence is the answer.

The Obstacle is the Way

Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman leader had a something to say about this: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Author Ryan Holiday explains this in his terrific book, The Obstacle is the Way, “In this famous line, what he (Marcus) is suggesting is that—no matter how bad or seemingly undesirable a situation becomes—we always have the opportunity to practice virtue, to use the situation as an opportunity to be our best selves. We don’t control when things get hard, but we always control how we respond. We can show patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice, and creativity. The things that test us make us who we are.”

The Things That Test Us

It is easy to think of “the things that test” us as obstacles that cannot be overcome, but I have found (and am still learning) that, as Ryan Holiday said in the quote above, “make us who we are”.

Here are three things I am reminding myself on a regular basis and perhaps you should too:

1.       There is no growth inside your comfort zone. If you are clinging to comfort, you are most likely not growing or moving toward your goals.

2.       If you are coasting, you are going downhill. Or, as Zig Ziglar said, “There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs”

3.       “Behind mountains are more mountains.” (Haitian Proverb) Meaning, there is no path to success that does not include obstacles. Once you are past one, the next will appear.

Persistence is a leader quality that is often not mentioned, but without it you can never be the change agent and motivator you need to be to take yourself and others to the next level.