Overcoming Obstacles: Results or Reasons?


We all run into obstacles in our life. How do you handle them? Do you spend time giving reasons why the obstacle prevented you from  reaching a desired outcome or do you overcome the obstacle to achieve results?

Which one do you prefer? I think most of us would prefer to be gaining results rather than giving reasons. Giving reasons why, or placing blame is just a way of defending yourself.  Most of the time others don’t hear (or want to hear) your reasons, but people are driven and inspired by those who can generate results.

Let’s look at an example of overcoming an obstacle we have all encountered:

Obstacle: You are late for an important meeting.

While walking into the meeting you let everyone know how your child missed their bus and you had to drive them to school, then you hit every red light, only to be stopped by the crossing gates for a freight train.


Before the meeting you take a second to gather yourself together, apologize for your tardiness as you take your seat, and then start the meeting.

The result most people want in this situation is for the meeting to take place. Giving all the reasons you were late just delays the meeting from starting; therefore, postponing the desired result.

Let’s look at some examples of famous people who have overcome obstacles in their life:

  • Michael Jordan did not make his high school basketball team, however later became the #1 basketball player in the world.
  • Beethoven lost most of his hearing at the age of 20 only to become one of the most well known composers in history.
  • The early works of Dr. Suess were rejected by 23 publishers, before he became one of children’s most loved writers.

So, most of us won’t become a Beethoven, Dr. Suess, nor Michael Jordan. However, any of the household names could have chosen to use their life’s obstacles as the reasons why they didn’t succeed. How we choose to look at a situation, and the choices we make after running into an obstacle, make all the difference.

Next time you encounter an obstacle, think of it as an opportunity. There may be  a silver lining in which you can make positive changes, or learn something new.

Perhaps the loss of your job will lead you to obtaining your dream career, or  a cancelled vacation may provide  you with the opportunity to accomplish some much needed home improvements.  Perceiving obstacles as challenges to overcome instead of the basis for our defense may help us mature and create the foundation for a road of ongoing successes.