Obstacles Equal Success

It might seem odd to suggest that obstacles are the source of success versus failure. But it is true. Whenever obstacles present themselves during the process of manifesting our goals, they should be viewed with appreciation. They should also spark hope, deeper determination, and inner-drive. So often in today’s society, we allow this wonderful source of inspiration (obstacles) to deter us because we view them as failures. A better understanding of what failure is will allow this new perspective regarding obstacles to begin to rise within our consciousness and help us embrace and welcome obstacles.

Failure Is An Illusion

I was teaching at New York University recently and during my Interviewing Strategies class, I mentioned that failure was an illusion. Naturally, my comment sparked quite a spirited dialogue and it turned out that none of my students agreed with my point of view. As we discussed it further, I said that failure is a term that usually is viewed in an absolute way, a way that would signify a complete end or loss. If you look at the various ways the word is defined, it becomes evident that it does not always signify a complete end. I have listed six ways the word “failure” is defined below that I got from my “Word-Dictionary” that I use with my computer.

1.A lack of success in something, or an unsuccessful attempt at doing something

2. Something that falls short of what is required or expected

3. Somebody who or something that is unsuccessful

4. A breakdown or decline in the performance of something, or an occasion when something stops working or stops working adequately

5. Inadequate growth, development, or production of something

Each of the definitions above uses words that either imply an end or a temporary end. I would say that the the words that imply a temporary end are more accurate and based in reality. Things don’t necessarily end, if we choose to never give up. The important thing is to view them as temporary setbacks versus absolute failures. Unfortunately, it is easy to fall into an absolute way of thinking that can only result in an end instead of a momentary set-back. During the discussion with my students at New York University I asked them if they thought Gandhi failed in what he wanted to achieve. Surprisingly, to me anyway, most of them said that he had failed. When I asked them why, one student said with passion, “he was assassinated.” Once the class quieted down, I reminded them that living was not Gandhi’s ultimate goal and that he had in fact achieved his goal of helping his country achieve its independence. In the end my students saw my point. Certainly, I am not suggesting that we need to risk our lives to make our goals happen, but it is an undeniable fact that risk is necessary in order to win big. This brings us to my initial point, that obstacles should be a source of inspiration and hope. For when we risk, we are inviting obstacles, which prove that we are on the right track. Let me explain further.

Obstacles Are the Source of Hope

Much of my work with clients entails assisting them in developing a better relationship with the challenges that occur as they engage in the transformative nature of choosing exactly what they wish to be professionally and personally. In an effort to explain what I mean by this I use exercise as an educational tool. When people begin to exercise it is usually to feel better, yet when they first begin, they feel worse. Their muscles are not used to being challenged in this new way and the result is pain or “obstacles” to their ultimate goal of feeling better. So, in order to feel better, they must first feel worse. The same holds true when we strive to have a better job, romantic relationship, or to make more money. If you pay attention, you will see a pattern in the occurrences that surround your goal, whether that goal is about money, love, or friendship. We will discover that we have been repeating similar situations if not the same ones over and over. Paying attention to the patterns are very important as they will allow you to see the choices that are not working for you, which is the first step to figuring out better choices. It can be very difficult to recognize the choices that are getting in our way, which is where I as an outside consultant come in. As an outside party I am able to help individuals identify those things that either they are not able to see or are unwilling to admit. I have listed below what I believe to be the elements of creating fundamental change.

1. Decide to make the change and commit to it no matter what happens.

2. Acknowledge the negative pattern and how you created that negativity by identifying the choices you made that were not the most valuable.

3. Begin to make better choices WITHOUT blaming or shaming anyone else, including yourself! And remember, a new girlfriend or new job will not make things better. You will just attract the same or similar situation. You must make the change from the inside out, not the outside in.

4. Have a perspective that decides to make your current situation better versus get a new situation. Wanting a new situation puts the blame on the outside versus allowing you to take responsibility for how you created the negativity that you are faced with.

5. Understand that you can’t make someone change, but that your job is to truly be a source of inspiration for that change until you have exhausted all possibilities. This is tricky as it is easy to just give up. Yet, if you listen to your heart and not your head, you’ll know when to let it go and move FORWARD by looking for a new job or relationship. But only after you have exhausted all possibilities and given the old situation a legitimate chance to get better.

6. Finally, remember that things will get worse before they get better. Just like the exercise analogy that I discussed above. Welcome these obstacles as the source of your success!

About Shawn Athanasios

A little bit about me. I received my BA from California State University, Northridge in Speech Communication and my MA in Culture and Communication from New York University (NYU). My Master’s degree was within the field of Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Management and my thesis topic was Meta-Cognition and Human Defensiveness. I wrote about the importance of individuals learning how to understand their defensiveness and negative thinking habits as a way to improve the overall cohesiveness within their human relationships. Curerently, I am an Adjunct Professor at SAE Institute, and my pasrt teaching experience includes several of the top Universities in the U.S. (NYU, LIM College, Pace University, Manhattan College & Georgia State University). My teaching experience includes the following courses: Interviewing Strategies, Intro to Human Communication and Culture, Interpersonal Communication, Small Group Communication, Principals and Theories of Communication, Public Speaking and Theories of Speech Communication I decided to create my own Coaching Business (JAAS Coaching) under the umbrella of Personal and Career Development for those looking to enhance their current profession, change careers, discover their deepest passions, communicate and manage conflict more effectively, achieve high levels of motivation, and find balance with their total self by offering a holistic approach to career and personal development. My eBook, "The Soul Search Before the Job Search," encompasses all of my work as a Personal and Executive Coach. My website/blog is www.JAAScoaching.comLinks to an external site. I have had many fulfilling experiences that include being raised in Laos, Ghana, India & Egypt by parents of the U.S. Foreign Service and Diplomatic community, teaching ESL in South Korea, serving as a Primary Counselor for kids out of Juvenile Hall, and mentoring grade school children through a Psychologist’s referred program. In addition, I am proud to have received a full scholarship for my Masters Degree at NYU, to have been the sole recipient of the Rosenberg scholarship and for graduating Magna Cum Laude upon completion of my graduate degree. I also presented two papers at the New York Speech Communication Association (NYSCA) conference while at Graduate School where I discussed the importance of taking full ownership of one’s shortcomings as essential to inducing change within oneself and one’s environment and how to be an effective interpersonal communicator. And finally, I was voted Faculty of The Year and Georgia State University after just one semester on the job! The article can be found on my website/blog. My volunteer work is reflected through participating in Buddhist Activities as a member of the Soka Gakkai International, the largest Buddhist lay organization in the world. Previously, I was the Young Men’s Division Leader for Houston District, I transcribed the World Tribune to audiotapes for the blind Buddhist members, I published an article in the Soka Gakkai’s Living Buddhism magazine and was a volunteer staff writer for the organization’s newspaper (The World Tribune). I continues to lead group discussions on Nichiren Buddhist Theory.
This entry was posted in Balance & Flow, Career and Job, Detachment, Interconnectiveness, Managing Stress, Motivation, Struggle, Wellness. Bookmark the permalink.

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