A couple of years ago, I was stuck, stuck, stuck.
Having taken a number of years to “try” to finish my first book, I didn’t know how to keep taking steps forward.
Most days, waking up early to sit down and write felt more like Andy Dufresne crawling through the sewer to freedom in Shawshank Redemption, than it felt like doing what I wanted, but, I knew if I kept moving, I would find my way.
Around that time I read a book by Ryan Holiday, titled, The Obstacle is the Way.
I remember one of the stories at the beginning of the book of a King who wanted to test his people by hiding a stash of gold beneath a huge boulder that he left in the middle of a path.
Many of his subjects walked around or got stopped, but one man, seeing the obstacle was the way, found a lever, moved the boulder, and uncovered the gold.
Ryan’s book is full of similar tales that get you to think about your “struggles” differently, and, get you to move those boulders and find your way.
In psychology, there’s a notion that says: What we resist persists, but what we embrace has the power to transform us.
Take for instance, a basic fear, such as the fear that many people face, of public speaking. Their entire life they might go out of their way to avoid this fear, and hence it will persist.
Yet, inevitably, that one day will come when they are “forced” to stand and speak (perhaps at their own wedding), and, perhaps at a time that matters most, they will perform terribly.
Having failed to see that obstacle as a way to grow, and learn, and squash those old self-doubts, they will likely reinforce that old fear and continue to do their best at avoiding those things that are uncomfortable.
Like a river backed up by an enormous boulder blocking the flow, the things you avoid only cause you to stagnate.
Indeed, the obstacle is the way.