Barriers, hurdles, challenges, struggles, roadblocks, etc.—there are so many words out there to describe things that get in our way in our goals. They never seem easy and we often hit upon these blocks that make us just want to give up. Sometimes resulting from those head-bashing moments, we chose to stop the pain and take a detour just to get around the barriers. But did you realize that it’s through those barriers that you end up learning so much about yourself and the situation, and strengthen your ability to survive?
My mentor Raymond Aaron says “barriers create life”.
Imagine a caterpillar in chrysalis. It is within this protective cocoon, ready to break out to reveal its metamorphosis into a butterfly. It has to push itself out of its cocoon by creating enough pressure from within—starting from the head, its legs, and through the rest of its body—as it releases itself from the cocoon. If you see it struggle and want to help by widening the opening, although with good intention, you would inadvertently harm the butterfly as it requires that particular struggle to make it strong enough to survive. The pressure it had built up within its body kickstarts further survival abilities post escaping the cocoon. If you help it, the wings become shriveled and deformed, which grounds it for life.
It’s through these challenges—small and large—that we learn how to get better, be more efficient, or understand what doesn’t work. What if you just faced that challenge head on, what could you have learned? What if you just had to endure a bit longer through the struggle, you could’ve reached your goal?
In his book “Think and Grow Rich”, Napoleon Hill tells the three feet from gold story of R. U. Darby. The tl;dr version is that during the gold rush, Darby and his uncle invested a lot of time and money digging to rediscover the gold vein that mysteriously disappeared after achieving some success. Frustrated and disappointed, they gave up and cheaply sold the claims to a junk man. However, the new owner of the mine was smart enough to hire a mining engineer, which determined that the gold vein was just three feet from where Darby and his uncle stopped mining! And that man ended up making millions from that vein because he sought expert advice before giving up.
Even though I’m sharing that barriers make us stronger and you shouldn’t avoid it just because it’s hard and challenging, it’s also good to recognize when it’s time to give up and find another way to get to the same goal. Detours aren’t bad as long as it ultimately gets you there. Giving up doing the same thing over and over again getting the same result isn’t the same as giving up this one method to find another. Even in that failure, you can still learn something from that. Most likely, it’ll give you a clue to discover your next method to success. Remember, all failures are just feedback, right?
So take a moment to reflect. Think of an experience you’ve had when your perseverance has helped you succeeded in achieving your goals. You did whatever it took to get through your challenges, right? When you hit a barrier in the future, recall this particular moment—how you felt, what drove you to keep on trying no matter what, and how it felt after you’ve succeeded. You got this. Now go take those barriers head on!