Are you facing any obstacles right now?
I bet you do – there’s hardly a day in life without an obstacle. Some are small, others are big. You won’t avoid facing some of them – they are a part of life.
In this post, we’ll talk about how you can overcome them easier – by mimicking what nature does. After reading, you will be equipped with three steps (reactions) that will make it easier for you to overcome any obstacle.
Obstacles in nature
Let’s walk down a path in a forest. Look around, see any obstacles to its growth? You might notice some immediate ones – the rough terrain, the boulders or rocks (that the trees still manage to grow on). If you think about it deeper, you might come up with some more indirect ones – droughts, torrents, strong winds that test the strength of the roots and trunk of each tree.
Take another step back and notice another level of obstacles – parasites, bugs and other organisms (including humans) that get in the way of the forest.
Add some less frequent tornadoes, storms or fires – there surely are a lot of obstacles nature has to overcome and endure.
Obstacles in our lives
We might live in a far more secure world, not having to worry about rough weather conditions (mostly), other organisms or natural disasters – our villages, towns and cities are a safe-haven for us. At least from mentioned natural dangers.
Yet we still face many obstacles that are of a different origin – be it internal (our own mental issues, biases and phobias, or even simpler overthinking, keeping up with the Joneses), interpersonal – other people trying to steal our possessions, ideas or time. Sociological – turmoil in countries, financial crises caused by bodies in no way related to us, competitors or just plain daily struggle to earn a living, be successful or recognised, be happy in a relationship.
For a being with the biggest brain and abstract thinking capacity, we are very good at creating obstacles for ourselves, directly or indirectly.
How does nature handle obstacles
We try to look for ways to cope and deal with obstacles in many places. There certainly are some very good philosophies to check out (Stoicism is one of the best), but we somehow fail to notice the most abundant and omnipresent source of inspiration available to us everywhere – the nature.
When presented with an obstacle, nature doesn’t panic – any obstacle it encounters is just part of its journey. It doesn’t fret, complain or stress. A river flows – you land a massive boulder in it, it is not going to complain. It is going to continue flowing through any means possible – finding a new path.
One of the best examples of how even the biggest and seemingly most overwhelming obstacles can be dealt with is a delicate flower growing through tarmac. A seed sprouts and the plant pushes the tarmac aside, millimetre by millimetre until it grows out of a crack and pushes it’s way out. A soft, fragile plant can push through hard and sticky tarmac.
How does it achieve this feat? Through slow, gradual but sustained effort over time. It doesn’t complain, it just does what it knows best – grow and seek sunlight, it finds every possible crack and little crevice and grows through it.
You can find examples like this everywhere in nature. A forest will always recover after a fire, drought, storm, flood, just give it time. It does it through slow, gradual and sustained effort. It overcomes obstacles that you would think will end it. Think about the extinction of dinosaurs – the weather condition that followed (ice age), yet nature prevailed.
Overcoming obstacles in our life the nature’s way
We can do the same. We can take the same approach nature takes before any obstacle:
- Don’t overreact – panic, stress, despair. Look at it as a thing that has already happened and no amount of despair is going to change it. (yep, basically don’t cry over spilt milk). It is there, it is part of your life now, it is ok. Observe the situation, analyse, know what is in front of you, but stay calm – just like a fragile plant pushing through tarmac.
- Look for solutions, not problems. Remember that, like nature, you can overcome any obstacle if given enough time, slow and gradual effort. Note the slow and gradual part – take your time, work slowly but systematically. There’s no point in trying to go full throttle and burn out or hurt yourself whilst doing so. Nature doesn’t try to resolve anything quickly and frantically, yet it resolves everything eventually.
- Keep trying – your first solutions might not be the ones that will get you there. But they are ways to eliminate more options. If you don’t try more of them, you might not find a way around the obstacle. The first one might not work, not even the third one. But one eventually will work. Just like a stream of water whose path is blocked by something – it will flow here and there until it finds it’s way back to the original path – or it finds a new way. But it will keep flowing.
Let’s look at some concrete examples from life
Every relationship will get on a rocky road eventually. That’s one of life’s obstacles you can’t avoid (even if you choose to avoid a relationship/partnership, you will still have to live and deal with other people – family, friends, neighbours, flatmates – all of these are relationships).
We tend to deal with relationship problems head-on, often accompanied by negative feelings – panic, fear of missing out (grass is greener on the other side syndrome), feeling left out, unappreciated). Something’s wrong and we try to act quickly – create a massive argument, withdraw and stonewall or end the relationship, hoping that the next one will be better. There are situations where this is true – some relationships are better not continued. But in many cases, we could deal with any obstacles the nature’s way – without attaching negative feelings to it, slowly finding solutions and learning how to live with each other’s idiosyncrasies, learning how to deal with our internal demons and hence becoming a better person, whilst also gaining a better, more mature relationship. This isn’t always the way – in the same way a river might change it’s direction if blocked by an obstacle, we are allowed to do the same. But the river will first try all possible options within its original path, if nothing works, it is going to push it’s way somewhere else. Give it your best, but if this doesn’t work, you can feel good about trying it somewhere else.
Whether you are building a career or going down the entrepreneurial path, you will encounter many obstacles. Legal obstacles, accounting obstacles, competitive obstacles, financial obstacles – you name it. You can also overcome all of them by sticking to nature’s principles. Don’t stress and panic, but observe and look for solutions and ways around the obstacle. Once you identify a solution, slowly work on it, improve the situation gradually but regularly and it will go away. This is commonly known in project management – if you face a big project, break it down to it’s smallest iterations and then work on each one until you have solved them all – and subsequently, you have delivered your big project.
This book will equip you with a great mindset to deal with obstacles.
Many times, the obstacle is your best opportunity to learn and grow. Many well-known businesses are here as a result of dealing with an obstacle. They weren’t born overnight as a bright idea of a brilliant mind, but they slowly grew to their today’s form through finding solutions to obstacles (for often a completely different initial idea).
A really useful insight into many great startups (and big businesses today) – much closer to how real businesses are made, than what the media tells you.
Exercise & nutrition
How did the last “get shredded in 4 weeks” program work for you? It didn’t? Yeah, they tend to be like that. In order to change your body in any meaningful way – that is to have a lasting health benefit that also shows on a healthy physique – you need gradual and sustained effort over time. Same goes for nutrition – you can’t see any good, long-lasting results coming out of a crash diet. You need to change the way you eat (and move) in general – so that you can sustain it for a long period of time (a lifetime!). Only after long periods of sustained effort and positive changes you will see the desired results – losing weight and keeping it down, gaining muscle and keeping it there, becoming more agile and staying that way. It all requires work and practise over time. You also can’t go overboard – working out too hard every day will not bring the desired results – it’s not linear like that – the more and harder I work, the more muscle I build – is incorrect. There’s is such a thing as too much exercise, where your muscles don’t have enough time to recover and grow. Exercising wisely, with enough downtime, but regularly and over longer periods of time is what makes athletes, six-packs and human flags possible.
In order to overcome any obstacle in life, get inspired by nature and apply these steps:
- don’t panic, stress or overreact. Take the “It is what it is” approach, accept it as a given and:
- look for solutions – observe, try various ways to solve it, keep busy working towards a chosen solution
- keep trying, don’t be put down by failures. If one solution doesn’t work, try another one. One will work eventually