Embracing Obstacles

Getting through obstacle

Embrace obstacles, don’t run from them, because they are the very catalyst for your personal growth. There is no victory without obstacle.

“So that his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat” Theodore Roosevelt

There is nothing more cold or more dead than a life lived without obstacle. To shy from all obstacles is to know neither victory nor defeat – the hallmark of a timid life. It’s like living in space…

Astronauts Have No Muscles

Because they don’t need them in space. In zero-gravity, there is no resistance placed on skeletal or muscular tissue and this renders them weak, riddled with muscular atrophy and even osteoporosis.

A study by the Journal of Physiology (17/8/10) found that on a 10-month, weightless trip to Mars, Astronauts would lose half of their muscle strength and on arrival would not be able to walk around the surface of Mars, or even perform routine tasks.

Our muscular and skeletal tissue is constantly rejuvenated because of the pressure placed on them in everyday life. Without that pressure, they deteriorate rapidly.

Living in space depletes our strength, and so does living without obstacle.

Living the Easy Life

It’s not the ultra-rich who live on ‘easy street’, it’s the many more millions of people who stumble through life avoiding obstacles like the plague. If it’s hard, if it’s risky, they’re not in it. These people ultimately end up cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat – because they never tried. It’s the easy life where you can never fail, even though you can also never win.

Embracing Our Obstacles

Most of us have given it a go. We try and we fail. Obstacles beat us down. We may not need to embrace failure but we do need to embrace those obstacles. They are the very thing that is building us, and they are the very definition of victory.

Victory is an obstacle overcome. No obstacle – no victory. Greater the obstacle – greater the victory. Avoiding an obstacle is like avoiding a victory.

“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”

Romans Knew How To Do It


In classical times, returning Roman generals were thrown a parade. Sharing his chariot amidst the adulation there always stood a slave, whispering a momento mori in the general’s ear.

The words were to the effect of: ‘remember that you are just a man, and one day you will die’. A momento mori brings perspective in the middle of triumph – a reminder that you are only human, just like everyone else. What is less well known however is that the Romans did not use a momento mori to keep the general humble, they used it to heighten his pleasure!

That’s right – the Romans figures out that being reminded in the midst of triumph just how fragile you really are, heightens the experience.

It is this gap between what we were and what we are that fulfils us. Looking back on our lives, there is great fulfilment in the obstacles we have overcome, not in the obstacles we successfully avoided.

Giants Produce Both Fear and Fulfilment

Big hairy giants in our path are a bringer of fear.

‘What if it’s bigger than me?’

‘What if it beats me?’

Those giants could also bring us an equal amount of fulfilment, if we conquer them. How about asking these questions instead?

‘What if I actually conquer this?’

‘How much stronger will I be on the other side?’

Think of giant obstacles as not just growth points, but fulfilment points. They are the markers of our lives that we remember victoriously – the stories of how we overcame.

Giants Are Our Bread

Don’t fear the giants in your life. Sure, they may be there to destroy you, but they are also your food – the food of conquerors.

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