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#48 The obstacle is the way

(Title with apology to Ryan Holiday’s book “The obstacle is the way: the timeless art of turning trials into triumph”.)


From where you are right now, your Big Dream may still seem far ahead. You may be wishing and thinking about taking action, but what you see in front of you is a path with a massive obstacle - or many obstacles.


These obstacles are probably internal, but you make them appear external.

What do I mean by this?

We create an external obstacle with statements like these:

  • “If only I had more time/money/skills/confidence/self-discipline, then I would achieve more.”

  • “If only my parents/spouse/friends/teenager weren't so difficult/unsupportive/selfish/rebellious, then I would be more confident/happier/I won't feel so lonely/I would be able to pay attention to my health.”

  • “I want to, but….”

  • “I can't, because…”

  • “It was not supposed to be this hard.”

‌We keep the external obstacle in place with the victim mindset. The victim points out all the reasons why something won't work or why they won't be able to achieve something. Why? Because if I am a victim, then it is not my fault if I can’t take action and I don’t have to take responsibility to take action. I can stay here in the beginning of this path, far from my Big Dream, and complain. Because I know how to do that - I feel safe and comfortable here at the beginning of the road just looking at it.

However, this external obstacle that we have created is masking an internal obstacle. It may be that you are scared to leave the familiar. Or maybe you are avoiding a fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection and (surprisingly) a fear of success. Perhaps you have convinced yourself that you are not allowed such happiness, such success, such freedom. Or that you are not the type of person who deserves these things. Or that reaching those dreams will take too much effort.

The victim will focus on the external obstacles and keep using them as excuses to avoid moving toward their Big Dream. But when you take responsibility for your inner world, when you become the master of your life, you recognise the internal obstacle. You can then develop the necessary skills and creativity to systemically work through the obstacle. By facing and powering through these obstacles instead of avoiding them, you move toward your Big Dream and create the life that you want.

Focus for a minute on the biggest obstacle that is standing between you and your Big Dream. What is the external obstacle you have created, and what internal obstacle is it masking? This obstacle in the road now becomes the road. What are the first steps you can take today to work through this obstacle?

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