I remember when I lost a few thousand Euros to fraudsters many years ago. It was all I had. My business was starting to make a gradual income while I was still living in the village. And I had accumulated this money from months of hard work and sleepless nights; money I needed to be able to move back to the city. Once I realized I had been defrauded, and the chance of getting back my money was close to zero, my victim self had a very candid dialogue with my ideal self. It went something like this;
- Am I likely to get my money back? —— No!
- It cost me blood, sweat and tears to earn and accumulate this money; don’t I have the right to feel bad? —– you do, for now!
- But will feeling back solve the problem? —— Absolutely not!
- Isn’t there a way feeling bad and mourning my loss could be helpful? —– It will only slow you down.
- So what is the solution to this problem? —- Well, get back to work and work harder and smarter than before.
- How can I prevent this from happening in the future? —– Stop receiving payments through cheques and start using wire transfer.
Well, I took my ideal self’s advice. The result was that I regained more than I lost within a shorter time. Some situations in life like losing a loved one or breadwinner can be harder to move on from. But candid self-dialogue like this is one of the hard but practical and effective ways to deal with most obstacles and in many cases, to turn an obstacle into an opportunity for success. For the rest of this video, I’ll share with you hard but effective ways successful and extraordinary people turn challenges and obstacles into opportunities for success. At the end of this video, I’ll recommend a book I believe will help you better understand and implement these methods. Before we get to it, be sure to subscribe to After School Africa for more insightful videos like this.
The difference between ordinary and extraordinary people
Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor. Along with other inmates, he was captured and had to live in the Nazi concentration camp. The daily struggles of camp life affected the mental state of its inmates. But while his inmates were broken into disillusionment with life, Frankl found meaning in his experiences by deciding that he was going to use his suffering as an opportunity to make himself a better person. Instead of becoming apathetic and accepting that he was doomed like his fellow inmates, he chose to see his suffering from a different perspective. He later went on to write the sensational book, Man’s Search for Meaning. The core of the book’s philosophy is that a man’s deepest desire is to find meaning in his life, and if he can find that meaning, he can survive anything.
According to Frankl, while a man’s destiny in life is certainly affected by the circumstances in which he finds himself, he is ultimately free to choose his own path in life. Even in the worst situation possible, man always has the freedom to choose his attitude towards life. The difference between successful and unsuccessful people – or if you will, ordinary and extraordinary people – is not their skill level but rather how they deal with obstacles and challenging situations.
Seek Objective Perspective
Have you ever wondered why the solutions to our friends’ problems are often so obvious to us, yet they can’t see them? You can clearly see that if they could overcome a previous challenge, they could handle what was before them. Or it’s clear to you that taking a particular course will improve their capacity to handle their job. But they fail to see all this. The simple reason for this is perspective.
Our initial reaction when we run into a problem is always emotional. We get frustrated, angry and think the problem is too hard to overcome. But when we look at other people’s problems, it’s easy for us to relax and look at them objectively.
Our perception is how we interpret the objective events of life. It can be a source of strength, for people like Viktor Frankl or a source of weakness, like for his fellow inmates. Being objective is removing one’s self from the picture, and looking at the situation as a third party. Objectivity allows us to see a lot clearer, react accordingly and give much better advice on how to deal with challenges.
How can you use this to your advantage? Become your own imaginary objective partner – more like your own imaginary mastermind. Great leaders are known for having portraits of past leaders they admire. In difficult situations, they try to put their idol in their own shoes and try to imagine what this idol would do in such a situation. Napoleon Hills used this method in a more extensive way. In his imagination, he would gather several people he admired their intelligence in a room with chairs and table, for 3o minutes meeting once a week. You don’t have to go to that length. A simple candid conversation with your ideal self can give you a clearer and more objective perspective.
Every challenge has a weak spot… Find it!
Alexander the Great once faced a huge challenge. Bucephalus was one of the best horses in all of ancient Greece. A giant black stallion, with black skin, endless endurance and an indomitable will; no one could tame Bucephalus.
Whenever someone approached him, Bucephalus would fight off the rider with fury. Alexander saw his weak spot and used it against him. He made Bucephalus run in a straight line, until he was exhausted. Faint from using all its energy in an angry sprint, Alexander mounted the horse, and from that moment on, he and Bucephalus were an inseparable unit.
The moral of the story is that every monster, every obstacle, every bully all have a weakness. The biggest obstacles in our lives often also have large weaknesses, which can be used against them. The right perspective will help you reframe the situation and find the opportunities in your obstacle.
Focus on what you can control
If you are working for a terrible boss, you cannot change your boss’s attitude, but you can change how you relate with and react to your boss. You can also change your job.
Once you have the right perspective and know which actions you should take, getting past your obstacle is a matter of will. You have to accept the things you can’t change and instead focus on changing the things you do have control over.
Natural events, other people’s choices and actions, sickness, death and economic ups and downs are all part of the things you cannot change. However, your emotions, judgment, attitude, response, reaction and decisions are all yours. Whatever you can’t change is not worth complaining about.
The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday is a modern take on the ancient philosophy of Stoicism, which helps you endure the struggles of life with grace and resilience by drawing lessons from ancient heroes, former presidents, modern actors, athletes, and how they turned adversity into success, using the power of perception, action and will. If you take on more than you can handle, spend a lot of time worrying about how your next project will be received, or can’t get your head above water, ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ is definitely a have-to-read for you.
If you found this video helpful, we’ll appreciate it if you’ll like and share it with someone who needs it. If you are yet to subscribe to After School Africa, now is a good time to hit the subscribe button. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!