Reflecting on a very busy, and challenging, yet rewarding 2023, I wanted to share one of my greatest lessons, or dare I say, ‘ah-ha’ moments of my personal and professional development journey.
It wasn’t anything new I learnt. In fact, I had heard it several times before in my three decade career.
The difference this time was my deeper understanding, correct interpretation and application of this timeless and ancient wisdom, while cross referencing it with a more recent articulation to this approach to life.
The unveiling of timeless wisdom
I have long studied and applied many of the world’s great philosophies, religions, secret society and spiritual pathways in my life.
What my experience revealed to me, was there are golden threads of common beliefs that weave between many of them and in business success.
The thread connecting personal growth, success and fulfilment was my biggest lesson from 2023.
Specifically, Zen Masters, Stoic philosophers, and a Roman Emperor, right through to current billionaires and modern day coaches, all promote their version of this common thread for a successful approach to life and growth.
Around the 6th century, Zen Buddhism emerged from China, with the underlying concept of perceiving obstacles as an integral part of the path to growth, summarised beautifully in the proverb, “The obstacle is the path”.
Even earlier than this, between 167 and 180 CE, a Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, encapsulated a similar fundamental Stoic concept in his memoirs, Meditations, Book 5.20: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way”.
Fast forward to the current world we live in, and you will often hear speakers (think Eric Thomas), successful entrepreneurs (think Gary V) and world class athletes (David Goggins), who all strongly suggest we must, “Love the process”.
Adopting a process-focused approach
The journey is less about being “outcome focused” and more about being “process focused”, meaning who are we “becoming”.
My biggest lesson and upgrade for 2023 came by combining and applying this mindset shift to my everyday approach to life.
The idea is that obstacles or challenges in life can serve as opportunities for growth and progress rather than hindrances.
For many of us, in the past, an obstacle or great challenge that stopped us in our tracks eventually persuaded us to give up trying to achieve our goal or objective.
Yet, the very obstacle or challenge that seemed to have obstructed your path in 2023, can be transformed into your successful pathway in 2024, revealing an even greater success and happiness you never thought achievable before.
Instead of seeing obstacles as roadblocks, by confronting and overcoming them, you can gain the valuable insights, resilience, and personal development needed to become the best version of yourself.
Your focus then shifts from, “Did I achieve my target, YES or NO”, to, “Who do I need to become to overcome this roadblock, so I can achieve my targets”.
It’s about adapting to the situation ad leveraging the obstacle as a means to achieve your goals rather than being paralysed by it.
Embracing obstacles as oppportunities for growth
But here is the punch line.
We have no control over the outcome or the goal.
We may be able to influence some things, but not every factor in its achievement.
We may have massive amounts of “wishing power and enthusiasm”, but that’s not going to cut it.
What we do have is absolute control over our thoughts, words and actions.
We need to do more “work” than “wishing”.
We need more “effort” than “enthusiasm”.
Redefining goals: The process of becoming
Therefore, the goal is not the goal.
The goal is to work on and to put effort into the process of ‘becoming’ the person who can ‘overcome’ the obstacles, so you can reach desirable outcomes.
The goal is not to finish the book, rather, it’s to put the work and effort into the process of ‘becoming a reader, so you can absorb and enjoy each sentence and page.
The goal is not to lose weight, rather, it’s to put the work and effort into the process of ‘becoming a healthier person’ so you can create new healthy eating and exercise habits.
The goal is not to get ‘X’ number of listings, rather it’s to put the work and effort into the process of ‘becoming a successful agent’ who has the discipline to create daily prospecting and lead generation habits.
It’s a shift in goal setting to, ‘Who do I need to become’, not what do I get.
It’s a shift in mindset to view obstacles and challenges as essential parts of the journey and beacons toward growth and success.
Historical examples of overcoming adversity
History is full of people who turned their greatest obstacles into defining moments.
Helen Keller, despite being deaf and blind, became an internationally recognised author.
Thomas Edison and his relentless pursuit of solutions in the face of repeated failures, underscores the transformative power of obstacles when embraced with unwavering determination.
While obstacles may seem daunting, their transformative potential lies in our willingness to focus on the process of ‘becoming’ so we can confront them head-on.
They serve as pivotal points in our life’s narrative, directing our evolution and shaping our destinies.
Embracing these challenges with fortitude, resilience, and an unwavering spirit can turn what appears to be a roadblock into a stepping stone toward personal growth, innovation, and success.
Obstacles as catalysts for personal evolution
Obstacles from 2023, rather than being hindrances for 2024 and beyond, can be seen as the catalysts for personal evolution and progress.
By shifting your approach from being less ‘outcome focused’ and more ‘process focused’ on the work and effort required to grapple with these challenges, you can unearth hidden reservoirs of strength, resilience, and adaptability.
Obstacles, seemingly insurmountable at first glance, possess the remarkable ability to shape our character and refine our abilities for the future.
They serve as teachers, imparting invaluable lessons that textbooks cannot convey, paving the way for becoming the best version of yourself.
What stopped you in 2023 can make you in 2024.