4 Ways to Turn Obstacles Into Opportunities

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Article by Smita Singh

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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 can 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.

By the following season, his work ethic on the practice courts had made him a dominant force on the varsity team. If he had given up, we wouldn't have the legend we have today.

Every person faces obstacles in their life. How they overcome those obstacles determines their success. Here are a few tips on how to get past the obstacles you face in your personal life and career:

1. Perceive Obstacles as Mere Detours on the Way to Your Final Goal

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Have the conviction that your goal is achievable. The actor Chris Burke, who has Down syndrome, 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 in place is not the answer. Create achievable and realistic goals to ensure success. The goals you create should be simple, clear, desirable, and measurable. Measure progress and celebrate accomplishments to motivate yourself to move forward at a faster pace.

There are numerous books and blogs regarding SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. If your goals meet these standards, it will be much easier to stick to them when you run into obstacles.

3. Focus on What You Can Do

When Jordan was cut from the varsity team, he was only 5'10". He wanted to be taller, but he knew that was beyond his control. 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 over it – or drill 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 Attitudes

Choose an attitude to prevail. Develop an unshakable belief in yourself and your abilities. Have the confidence to be the exception, the outlier who 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 of information are useful, and makes a command happen accordingly. 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 obstacles. Conviction in your goals, a smart plan, creative solutions, and the right mindset can give you a powerful determination to succeed.

A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.

Smita Singh works with executives and companies to optimize their personal and company brands through 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.