4 Ways to Turn Obstacles into Opportunities

UPDATED: May 4, 2022
PUBLISHED: May 4, 2022
4 Ways to Turn Obstacles into Opportunities

Michael Jordan is a basketball legend, but he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Out of seemingly unending obstacles, he built a career so many only dream of.

When his high school’s varsity team needed more players for the approaching playoffs, Jordan tried out but didn’t make the cut. It was a major disappointment and he vowed to become the best basketball player he could be.

By the following season, his work ethic on the practice courts quickly translated into becoming a dominant force on the varsity team. If he had given up, we wouldn’t have the legend we have today.

Every person has obstacles in their life. How they overcome them determines their success.

1. Perceive obstacles as merely a detour to your final goal.

Have the conviction that your goal is achievable. Actor Chris Burke once said, “I have a motto on my bedroom wall: ‘Obstacles are what you see when you take your eye off the goal.’ Giving up is not my style. I just want to do something that’s worthwhile.”

Once your eyes are set on the goal, don’t allow minor obstacles to distract you. It’s easy to give up; it’s much harder to stick to the plan.

2. Hope is not a plan.

There will always be obstacles along the way. Hoping they will go away and that things will fall into place is not the answer. Create achievable and realistic goals to ensure success. Ensure the goals you create are simple, clear, desirable and measurable. Measure progress and celebrate accomplishments to motivate you in order to propel your goals forward at a faster pace.

There are numerous books and blogs regarding SMART goals, those which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based. Ensure your goals meet these standards and see how much easier it will be to stick to your goals amid obstacles.

3. Focus on what you can do.

When Jordan was cut from the varsity team, he was only 5 feet 10 inches. He wanted to be taller, but he knew it was out of his control. So instead of wasting his time and effort, he focused on honing the skills he could control.

Instead of thinking about what you cannot do, think about what you can do. Use the obstacle as a means to become better or think of creative ways to overcome it. When you hit a wall, find a way to climb it or carve a hole in the wall to get to the other side. Don’t just stand there and wonder why you hit the wall.

4. We can’t always control events, but we can control our attitude.

Choose a positive attitude to prevail. Develop an unshakable belief in yourself and your abilities. Have the confidence to be the exception, the outlier that overcomes all obstacles—someone who is willing to bet on themselves.

Our brains have nerve pathways called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS receives directions from various parts of the brain, decides which pieces are useful to achieve the command and makes it happen. What this means is we can program our minds to be positive and search for viable solutions. Developing the right mindset is the best solution for overcoming obstacles and achieving goals.

Obstacles are inevitable. All successful people have faced and overcome their own hurdles. The conviction in your goals, a smart plan, creative solutions and the right mindset can give you a powerful determination to succeed.

This article was published in August 2016 and has been updated. Photo by @natalie4160/Twenty20

Smita Singh

Smita Singh works with executives and companies to optimize their personal and company’s brand with digital, content and social media marketing. She mentors a group of more than 1,300 women entrepreneurs in Houston and hosts the Womenpreneur: Strategies For Success podcast.