The Right Way to Approach Obstacles

It's not the obstacle that's important, but rather, how you approach it that makes all the difference.

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It's not the obstacle that's important, but rather, how you approach it that makes all the difference. 

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, but as by the obstacles which he has to overcome while trying to succeed.” — Booker T. Washington

Obstacles are something everyone of us are going to face at some point or another. It’s inevitable. The trick is having the right attitude and knowing the right way to approach them as they begin to get closer and closer.

I can remember going through basic training in the Marine Corps at the Recruit Depot in San Diego, California as if it was yesterday. We would get hauled out of bed at ungodly hours and march in the cold to one of their obstacle courses.

I was very young at the time and never really understood the real point of going through the crap that we went through while we were going through it. In fact, at the time it appeared as if whoever put those obstacle courses together were sadistic personalities that the government paid to design them so that they could get off on trying to get as close to killing us without actually doing so.

However, looking back today — hopefully much wiser, and certainly much stronger from the experience — I realize that they were trying to toughen us up. In other words, they were in the business of transforming boys into men (maybe not just men, but into Marines).

These obstacles were causing the other recruits and myself to get in touch with something within ourselves. They were helping us discover something we didn’t know we had —an almost close to superhuman strength of intense determination.

There is something else of real value that I can see clearly now that I couldn’t see back then. Although there was always some level of hostility felt by each of the recruits (including myself), and as we progressed further through our training, there always was a certain level of enthusiasm in our group as we returned  — tired, yes, but still excited and intrigued about what was yet to come.

When we would return back to our squad bay we would all experience an internal revelation. We realized that we accomplished something; we faced an obstacle and conquered it.

And not only did we see something in ourselves that we didn’t know was there before, we noticed that our drill instructors — the ones that we thought were sadistic and insane individuals — when we returned back to our squad bay, they became “good guys” again. That is, when we returned home victorious. The same people that yelled and pushed us during the obstacle became the same people that laughed and joked with us once we returned home more than conquerors.

If you find yourself facing an “obstacle course” today, reach out to meet the obstacle head on. Never quit! As they use to tell us in the Marine Corps, “Quitting is not an option. Adapt and overcome!

Understand this: Being a Marine is more of a mindset than anything else. Find the Marine inside yourself and attack the obstacle that is before you. Conquer it, and I guarantee that you will see yourself as a stronger, wiser, and happier person.

The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” — — Bob Proctor

Originally published at

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