We celebrate people who overcome obstacles to accomplish important objectives. They are people like Daniel Kish who taught himself to ride a bike using echolocation even though he’s blind, Oprah Winfrey whose media power has positively affected millions even though she experienced an abusive childhood, and Richard Branson who learned how to overcome the challenges of dyslexia to become one of the most storied entrepreneurs in the world.
So, what enables some people to overcome, indeed, thrive on obstacles, while others wallow in despair? This may sound flip, but it’s all a matter of perception.
Consider this example. Sue had a promising idea to help her company spring forward. All she needed was three to four hours a week at work to develop and implement it. Excited, she rushed into her boss’ office to share the idea and ask for the time to pursue it. “Your idea sounds great, Sue,” he said, “but we need to hit our numbers this quarter and I need you to stay focused on the tasks you have.”
“How fascinating,” Sue mused. “I wonder what I can do with these circumstances? How can I pursue the opportunity and work within the time constraints?” She turned the time “obstacle” into an opportunity by interesting her co-workers to work on the project in smaller chunks of time at coffee breaks or lunchtime. Her crowdsourced implementation of her idea.
Embracing the obstacle delivered superior results. The template she created yielded an asset others could use. She broadened interest and ownership in the project. And, it moved forward faster than if she had done it on her own. So, was time an obstacle or an opportunity for Sue?
And what about you? What obstacles are you facing that could be the perfect opportunity to make the most of your talent and spring forward?