Obstacles into Opportunities
“It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities.”
I had a teacher who was relentlessly optimistic and positive about everything. As a teenager, it sort of bugged me because. . . .well, because I was a teenager and teenagers are seldom relentlessly optimistic or positive. Everything “bad” could be turned into something “good” according to this teacher. Setbacks and obstacles were learning experiences. Crushes gone bad and broken hearts were just a preparation for really clarifying what we wanted in a mate. Struggles with certain subjects in school became self challenges that we could, by all means, triumph over.
Ugh. It really annoyed me.
Now, as an adult, and a parent of teenagers (who happen not to be pessimists or negative), I realize that she was 100%, absolutely correct.
We get into these ruts. . . we get into these ways of thinking about things around us that keep us trapped. It’s the old cliché of the ‘glass half full/glass half empty’.
The events in your life are not what make you who you are, but it is your response to these events that show your true character. Lately I’ve been really exploring the idea that our emotions and emotional responses to external stimuli, are choices. Emotions are choices. That’s a revelation in some ways. It’s very freeing. I’m not connected to anger if I don’t want to be. I’m not responding with fear because I choose not to. I’m not choosing to be depressed about things I have no control over.
And if you notice, those last three statements are in the form of negative statements. Changing this pattern also requires that we pay careful and patient attention to the language we use. I am . . . I am choosing to be courageous. I am choosing to let this go. I am choosing to realize that I am separate from the things that happen around me.
What if just by readjusting our obstacles into opportunities, we attract more of what we want? What if it’s that simple? Wouldn’t it be worth it to suspend cynicism? Wouldn’t it be worth it to let go of the patterns that have kept us stagnant? I should think so.
I only wish I had learned this lesson earlier. Not that I was a depressed or pessimistic kid, but we all have moments. . . This reframing of struggle into potential and exciting lessons is exactly the kind of thing that we as persuaders can learn from. Framing and reframing our lives and the lives of those around us is absolutely mandatory if we want to succeed in persuasion. Helping others to see that the glass is half full, helping others to see how our products and services will benefit them immeasurably in life, helping our loved ones, our teenagers, to realize that every day we make the choice (many times unconsciously) to be unhappy, is a real revelation. Let’s make our choices consciously and use that consciousness for relentless optimism.
Until Next Time,
Kenrick E. Cleveland