Challenges and Obstacles

As we go through life, challenges and obstacles keep raising their heads. This is par for the course. What happens after that is really determined by how you face, handle and overcome the challenges. Obstacles of the past can be the gateways to a new future. Facing a challenge on the road when you were cruising comfortably, enables you to think and rethink. What you temporarily consider as a block, can actually become a chance to rethink your options and choose a turn towards a new future… much really depends on your response and handling of the challenge.

Imagine you are making great speed and moving along well. And you are faced with a mountain. Little will be gained if you sit and curse!! It is much better to look at all the options that you have. You can climb over the mountain and go to the other side…and thus continue your journey. You can go around the mountain. Or like Manzhi, the Mountain Man, you can dig your way underneath the mountain. You can fly over the mountain, a la Lindberg. You can blow up the blockage. You can ignore the mountain and pretend it does not exist…an approach practiced by many around us?? You can turn around and head back home, the way you came. Or you can stay on the mountain and make it your home. Options are legion. Enid Blyton, the children’s author, gives great practical advice,” The best way to treat obstacles is to treat them like stepping stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better”.


Life is an adventure. If it is not that, it is nothing at all!!! Difficulties strengthen the mind. Know that finally a WIN is shaped in your mind. Do not dodge challenges. Be the kind of person who dares to face life’s challenges and overcomes them. Have the faith that “every set-back bears with it the seeds of a come-back” (Steve Maraboli: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience). Life throws challenges and obstacles. But every challenge has the seeds of a solution, if you will look long enough and close enough. Remember, a challenge becomes an obstacle or stumbling block only when you bow before it, and give up your efforts to overcome and upstage it. Sad would be the day when we give up, or become complacent and accepting the limitations that an obstacle  has posed before us.


The lot for us humans is to strive, persevere and never give up.  The psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who has done seminal work published in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience  puts it brilliantly: … the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen.” To illustrate:  for a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. Remember, “For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.”

Hence, what I am saying to you is :  There are no negatives. No impossibilities. There are only challenges. Challenges which will make you stronger and more capable as you tackle them. All that you have been through, all the efforts you have made, all the years you have lived till moment, all the roads you have taken…all have brought you to this wall. Accept the reality. Understand your situation. Acknowledge the challenge and the difficulty. But remain focussed on the outcomes, the end goal…and not on the obstacles ahead of you. Muhammad Ali, the Champion, cautions us…“Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.”  Unfortunately, this  causes bigger pain and difficulty. When you start living the life of your dreams, there will always be obstacles, doubts, difficulties, mistakes and setbacks along the way. But with hard work, perseverance and self-belief there is no limit to what you can achieve!! At the end, someone or something always gives up. It is either you give up and quit or the obstacle or failure gives up and makes way for your success to come through!!

challenge change

Am not saying for a moment that everything will be hunky-dory; downhill slopes all the way. There will be failures along the path. But Champions treat Failure as Feedback. They learn from every failed attempt, and recoup their energies and try something new to overcome the challenges before them. Failures are only telling us to try a different approach or a new solution to achieve your results. Sometimes you will run into brick walls. They will test you. Find a way around them and stay focused on your dream. Emblazon the fundamental truth TTT into your consciousness…Things Take Time!! Take solace in the the age-old adage: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Isabel Lopez encourages us: “If you can’t believe in miracles, then believe in yourself. When you want something bad enough, let that drive push you to make it happen.Finally, let this remain imprinted in your mind: If you quit on the process, you are quitting on the results!!!

Let me end with a favorite quote from Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture: “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” 

quotes on overcoming obstacles Fancy Quotes Over ing Obstacles New Over ing Challenges Quotes

When we least expect it, Life will set us a challenge. Understand that at such moments Life is testing our courage to face the challenges and obstacles. And in handling these difficulties, Life is also testing our willingness to change. We do not have the luxury of shutting our eyes and bury our heads in the sand. We will have to face the reality. We will have to overcome the challenge. And in the process we will have to be ready to change.

Learn. Be different. Take the teachings, that the Challenge has brought into our lives. And grow!!! Louisa May Alcott in The Little Women captures our human situation so beautifully, when she notes: “I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.”

Wishing you Bon Voyage as you board your personal flight to freedom and change.

“Per aspera ad astra”(Through hardship to the stars): vikas.


25 Replies to “Challenges and Obstacles”

  1. Nicely put… Yes it happens and you have very aptly described how can it be handled……
    Mind has enormous power, which can be harnessed with tuning it in appropriate manner to handle such obstacles …
    Well written a guide for people who go into depression when faced with challenges..


    1. Harish thanks for your comments
      They say that you teach best what you most need to learn
      In a similar way i write to clarify my own thoughts and give auto suggestions
      Don’t put me on a pedestal of guide etc
      I am fellow traveller who is struggling alongside others to find the way
      Vikibaba punter


  2. VS:

    You have given very important guidelines for being successful and happy!!

    The real challenge is to remember these approaches ,when we indeed are in trouble. That is the time when the mind is disturbed , confused, agitated ..and is unable to think rationally. It is like a student , who has prepared very well , but forgets the answer in the exam hall ,when nervousness grips his mind.

    In the Brahmakumaris, a quote that i found very appealing was:

    ” A quiet mind sees solutions that are hidden to others”

    The point to consider is to keep the mind quiet when we really face a crisis situation!

    it is not that every day we face big challenges..but there is no dearth of small little problems that we keep encountering from morning through the day..these are the occasions to practice remaining calm/quiet and finding creative ways out of the situation. It is such a habit, formed over a period of time, that can be handy when we face real big challenge..our mind will be habituated to ‘calm it down’ and think of creative options.

    Thanks VS for bringing such an important topic on the table ..which , i am sure, affects everyone..from a beggar in the street to Mukesh Ambani!!


    1. JL
      Many thanks for your comments and taking the time to share your perspectives. They add to the richness of understanding the topic at hand….because none of us can claim we know it all.
      Do read the Mikhail C….unpronounceable name book on Flow. He makes the basic point that agitation and a disquiet mind may be essential for hyper performers. Life is indeed about stretching and expanding boundaries as we go forward day to day. So my point of difference with the BK quote is that a calm mind may put you in a comfort zone and not enable you to stretch, to exceed, to go beyond. To me a calm mind comes after the event. Having said that i cant explain the other lovely example you gave about the over anxious student forgetting fundamentals.
      But then i suppose these conundrums n contractions make life all the more fun.
      Thanks,again for taking the time to read n respond.
      Look factory continuing the dialogue vikas


      1. I have not read Mikhail C….but at this stage i have a different take on the “calm mind”. Calm mind does not make you complacent . It actually brings clarity on purpose and action.

        often you will notice that people look very busy , act very busy ..but take 3 steps forward and then 2 steps backward. As they say ,there is “Gati” ..but no “Pragati” A calm mind may appear to be ‘docile’ ..not ambitious..etc ..but it thinks through the situation, plans out well and then takes a firm action. It uses less energy for the same performance. It does not get tired/exhausted as easily as the agitated.

        To me , a person with a clam mind is a long term and a consistent player.

        You see so many ‘stars’ who rise exponentially and then have a quick fall for some reason or another. For the period they are rising, it may appear that an agitated and disquiet mind is the reason for the performance. Very few are able to sustain it. And if you ask those who sustain , all of them use some way or another to relax their mind.

        i recall an article in Fortune or Time i had read years back about the Wimbledon players. What it had to say was interesting:

        if a player loses a point against the opponent and if he mentally gets agitated, his performance in the next rally is adversely affected. The winner is the one who, after losing a point , manages to quickly turn calm, re-set himself mentally and faces the next service as fresh as if it were the start of the game!

        This is my view on the subject which i thought it important to share.

        we can of course, agree to disagree …in some matters…!!


      2. JLS
        I think we may be in violent agreement, he he

        Results are achieved through planning, working and actions
        Those who pretend to work, will never achieve substantial results
        The stretch, hunger and desire is what I define as challenge and obstacle that must be overcome to move across the finish line
        and that stretch and challenge facilitates the learning
        to use your tennis example, unless the player has analysed and understood what he did wrong, and learnt through that, and corrected himself he will not score the next point
        agitation of mind will distract from the learning
        and will not help you to change
        and in the sports arena this timeline can be measured in split seconds
        He cannot remain agitated, needs to resolve his next action and move
        to that extent yes a “calm” mind helps
        But under that calm mind and exterior, I see a lot of micro actions which finally propel the new direction/the solution/the new path
        Bjorn Borg was always there where the ball landed, he was always in control and he appeared unhurried
        But am sure under the the water that duck was paddling like hell
        am not a student of science, but I see this as akin to …if the speed of a turnstile is slow, it is visible to the naked eye; as the speed increases the distinct different states merge seamlessly, and when the speed increases tremendously, the turns are not at all visible, and the turnstile may actually appear stationary…since the speed is not discernible
        hence I feel your calm mind and my agitated mind may actually be meeting on the other side

        Thanks again for raising a different point of view
        the richness is always in the dialogue
        and dia presupposes two countervailing views
        which to me maintain the balance in the world!!!
        viva la difference


      3. Thanks Vikas for a detailed response and the appropriate examples.

        i am unable to resist the temptation of mentioning here the most recent quote of Rohit Sharma ,after the great victory of MI at the IPL. Here it is , published in the Mumbai Mirror today:
        ( i was trying to insert the interview image here ..which i could not do pl make do with the text):

        Q to Rohit Sharma: How do you keep your emotions in check in the last over?

        RS: “You have to try to remain as calm as possible and think about the job at hand. Staying calm and being cool comes naturally to me…… ”

        Hope i am not ‘labouring’ the point too much!!


    1. Thanks Amit for your comments. Another lovely marine quote which is my fave is Ships are safest in the harbour….but ships were not built to be kept only in the harbour. Challenges, typhoons, storms and rough seas make you stronger. Take the risk n move forward.


  3. Spelt out the the key to fight challenges so as to convert them into opportunities. Coming from the pen of a true fighter it has marks of the blood , sweat, toil and tears as well as the hard knocks of a veteran. Pl do share it with the youth of the presnt times who get into depression every time they face a hurdle and then resort to self abuse. God bless. VRP.


    1. Thanks Page sir for your praise
      Yes we are fighters
      Our heads are bloodied but not broken
      And we need to share our learnings
      Future gens must stand on the shoulders of the previous gens then only we will see further and go farther
      Knowledge n privileges must be shared
      There is more joy indeed in giving
      Thanks for the opportunity you gave me to pontificate


  4. Well written! Those who are mentally tough handle almost any situation in life.
    If you learn, then only can you truly live.


    1. Amit thanks for your comment.
      I agree n disagree. Don’t think some people are tough….all of us struggle to cope. The second comment is spot on though. To live you must learn.
      But truly thanks for reading n commenting


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