Magda Ehlers

Obstacles Refine Character

Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to realize that obstacles, challenges, setbacks or whatever name you choose to categorize something in your way — it’s never permanent. Even if it seems that way obstacles can often be looked at as pivoting points in which we can gain knowledge, insight, and direction if we’re willing to stop long enough to analyze what’s happening. 

Over the course of my entrepreneurial journey and even as I continue I experienced my share of obstacles as I’m sure many others have but I’ve never let that stop me from moving forward. If anything, once I experienced enough of them (there’s no magic number!)  I learned to take a closer look at why things weren’t happening in the way that I’d expected. But I didn’t dwell on it. Eventually, I ended up learning that it didn’t benefit me to backtrack my steps in hopes of pinpointing exactly why the obstacle had come about but rather to realize that in the present moment I was faced with a challenge and my next steps were most important. I learned to be present.

What this meant for me was that I could now decide on the plan of action going forward. What adjustments do I need to make on my end? Which action steps do I take to overcome this obstacle? Questions like these helped me to realize that in the experience of the obstacle my lightbulb alerted me that I need to put some thought into what I was doing as far as the work was concerned; This helped me cultivate mindfulness. Did I miss a few steps? Could this have been better? Another flip side of encountering a challenge is you’re forced to slow down, you’re forced to take a closer look; This teaches you patience. In addition to mindfulness and patience, there’s a great amount of value in every obstacle if you make an honest effort to pull the positive aspects from it. 

Obstacles help refine your character because you’re alerted to be mindful and patient. If you treat obstacles as an opportunity to learn, you will gain something from it. Even if it was an unpleasurable experience. What did you learn? How can you improve or make adjustments going forward? Also, if you have the power to choose your thoughts, why not choose a positive thought from the experience? So in a way, you’re reinforcing positivity no matter the situation.  

Culturally, we’ve been in a place of blame and fault when it comes to obstacles or challenges with thoughts like “why is this happening to me,” or “it’s not my fault that..blah, blah, blah.” I know things happen that are beyond our control but I’m learning aside from the things that happen on the surface, we always have the ability to learn from the experience. Any opportunity to learn and grow is always beneficial, it’s for your greater good but how are you to learn when things are always going your way? This question I always try to keep in mind when I’m working on a project and for whatever reason, an obstacle pops up. 

Taking that break to tend to whatever challenge is happening allows you to pause and reset. It may be an instance where you catch a crucial mistake in your work or you find that you have more creativity to add to a project making it better or maybe the obstacle is just there so you’re forced to slow down — teaching you mindfulness and patience. Either way, it’s all for your benefit, your greater good.

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