For those who have followed the blog for a while you know that I really enjoy road cycling. I started riding in high school with my dad and then raced for Arizona State University in college. It is one of my favorite ways to exercise and spend time in the fresh air thinking to myself. Actually, it is where I come up with most of my blog posts.
Road bikes have very narrow wheels and skinny tires. Because of this, all of the weight from the bike and rider is transmitted down onto two small points where the front and back tires hit the road. The narrow tires make the bike go faster. The downside is that any little rock or piece of glass you run over has an increased chance of puncturing your tire. So you have to avoid every little thing in the road or else you get to spend time fixing a flat.
I found early on in my cycling career that I was hitting a lot of those rocks. It wasn’t that I didn’t see them coming, it was just that my bike started to steer itself right into them. It was so frustrating! I mentioned it to my dad who told me that he had experienced the same thing when he started riding.
“You can’t look at the rock,” he said. “If you focus on the rock, you will hit it almost every time. If you want to avoid it, you have to focus on a point to the side of the rock. You have to focus on where you want to go, not at what you want to avoid.”
I gave it a try and he was right. I could avoid the obstacles a lot better if I looked 6 inches to the side of them. If I focused on the path I wanted to take, the obstacles came and went without any problem.
How often have you seen someone who takes a small trial or setback in the road and focuses on it so much that it trips them up and stops all of their forward progress? Maybe their obstacle is criticism, or a failed business venture. Perhaps it is a boss they don’t like or a career that no longer brings them any excitement. Whatever the obstacles are, the more you focus on them, the bigger they get. Pretty soon they are big enough that you can’t see past them and you find yourself spending all of your time and effort trying to steer away from them.
Just like with bike riding, the trick is to not focus on the obstacles. You have to focus on where you want to go, not what you want to avoid. This is where a strong vision statement comes in handy. It helps you remember where you want to go so you can overlook the small obstacles in your path.
It has been said that you will end up getting the things you focus on most. If you focus on the obstacles, you will find plenty of them. If you focus on the paths leading to personal success, you will achieve it. Decide where you want to steer your bike and focus on it until the obstacles pass by the side.
Here are some tips for dealing with life’s obstacles:
#1. Accept That Obstacles Are Always Going to Happen. Whether you want them to or not, there will be rocks along your path. They are inevitable. Many people start out on their life goals thinking that everything will go smoothly and then are shocked to find that their are difficulties in their way. These people are often tempted to blow the obstacles out of proportion and abandon their goals. Remember that anything worth doing will have some trials along the way but they all can be overcome.
#2. Write your vision. You have to know where you want to go if you are going to focus on it! (For tips on defining your vision, check HERE). A vision statement will really direct all of your efforts in the right direction. Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things we see when we take our eyes off of our goals.” Your vision will keep you on track.
#3. Be bold. Life favors those who act decisively. If you are scared or apologetic about wanting success for yourself, the chances are you will give up at the first sign of a setback. You can’t be so scared of the potential difficulties that you fail to ever strike out on your path. Be bold!
#4. Don’t Make Mountains Out of Mole Hills. I had an employee once who had a special talent for finding a small obstacle in the office and turning it into a problem that involved our entire staff and 2 days to solve. Most problems aren’t nearly as big as our brain likes to make them. The best way to keep them in check is to get out a piece of paper and write down the different aspects of the problem and possible solutions. It is amazing how writing it down can shrink a major problem down into a manageable pebble.
#5. Do Your Best Then Let It Go. Successful people have learned to always give their best effort and then let things fall as they may. No matter how you look at it, your best is your best. All you can control is your attitude and your actions, after that it is out of your control. Life will reward your efforts so stop trying to make everything happen perfectly. If you tie your happiness to perfection you will never be happy. If you tie your happiness to the journey of self-improvement you will find happiness and success all along the way. (For more on this, see one of my favorite posts: Let It Go)
This journey through life is a wonderful ride. It will give you a healthy dose of both failures and successes. The one thing we can be sure of is that nothing worth achieving can be done without passing by or through some obstacles. So when you see those rocks coming in your path, focus on your goals and not on the obstacles so that you can safely steer around them and on to success.
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