Talking about overcoming obstacles, John Maxwell reminds us that Robinson Crusoe was written in prison. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress in the Bedford jail. Sir Walter Raleigh wrote The History of the World during a thirteen-year imprisonment. Luther translated the Bible while confined in the castle of Wartburg. For ten years Dante, author of The Divine Comedy, worked in exile and under the sentence of death. Beethoven was almost totally deaf and burdened with sorrow when he produced his greatest works. Lord Nelson’s obstacle was sea-sickness. Nelson, who destroyed Napoleon’s fleet suffered from sea-sickness!
John C. Maxwell, 1993, Developing The Leader Within You, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, p.29-30 , 165
Overcoming the Obstacle of Regret:
I hadn’t planned another trip this year, but I found myself packing rather hurriedly. I was off on another “Guilt Trip” and I was dreading it.
I flew on Wish-I-Had airlines but I wasn’t allowed to check my baggage so I had to carry it all myself. It was heavy: packed with a thousand memories of what might have been. Still, it was only a short journey before I arrived at Regret City Airport.
I hailed a cab to the Last Resort Hotel, where they were hosting the Annual Pity Party. I was sure to meet with the other regulars: the Done family – Shoulda, Woulda and Coulda; the I Had family – old Wish and his clan; the Opportunities – Missed and Lost; the Yesterday’s – too many to count but each with their own sad tales to tell. Shattered Dreams would also be there along with Their Fault, Don’t Blame Me and I Couldn’t Help It.
Well, I checked in and prepared for the worse but then it occurred to me: I didn’t have to be on this trip or any other subsequent “pity party” either. I had the power to cancel the event, to check out and be somewhere else instead, somewhere better! Finally, I realised that although I can’t change yesterday I can still change today. – Well, I left the City of Regret quickly and never looked back. (I didn’t even leave a forwarding address.)
If you’re planning to visit the City of Regret change your reservation and come to a place called, Starting Again, instead. – I liked it so much I stayed! My new neighbours are the I Forgive Myselfs and the New Starts. It’s a wonderful place. Why don’t you look me up. I live on I Can Do It street.
Adapted from the prose “Leaving the City of Regret” by Larry Harp
Where God guides, He provides.
“Nothing in life just happens. You have to have the stamina to meet the obstacles and overcome them.”
Golda Meir (1898-1978), Prime Minister of Israel
Overcoming Obstacles: When St. Petersburg, Russia, one of the most splendid and harmonious cities in Europe, was being laid out early in the 18th century, many large boulders brought by glacier from Finland had to be removed. One particular large rock was in the path of the principle avenues that had been planned, and bids were solicited for its removal. The bids submitted were very high. This was understandable, because at that time modern equipment did not exist and there were no high-powered explosives. As officials pondered what to do, a peasant presented himself and offered to get rid of the boulder for a much lower price than those submitted by other bidders. Since they had nothing to lose, officials gave the job to the peasant.
The next morning he showed up with a crowd of other peasants carrying shovels. The began digging a huge hole next to the rock. The rock was propped up with timbers to prevent it rolling into the hole. When the hole was deep enough, the timber props were removed and the rock dropped into the hole below the street level. It was then covered with dirt, and the excess dirt was carted away. – It’s an example of what creative thinking can do to solve a problem.
Source: The Best of Bits and Pieces, 1994, New Jersey: The Economics Press, p.41-42
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
Henry Ford (1863-1947)
Overcoming obstacles: A starfish has five arms. If you cut one arm off the starfish will grow a new arm. Not only that, the detached arm will grow a whole new starfish, because the genetic imprint is contained in each and every one of its parts. – We need to be like the starfish and no matter what is thrown at us, we need to bounce back every time and multiply our efforts.
Source: John Kehoe, Mind Power, 1997, Vancouver, Canada: Zoetic Books, p.3
We only grow in the crucible of adversity. Every hardship, even every disappointment, should be the seed of a new opportunity. Let me give you an analogy: Think of a little stream of water. It has no strength in itself. It is shallow and weak. But if we put a dam across it, this obstacle will cause the water to back up and get depth. This obstacle has caused the water to have strength and power. It can now generate power to drive a locomotive and it can turn the wheels of industry.
Cavett Robert, 1969, Human Engineering and Motivation, New York: Parker Publishing, p.109
“Obstacles cannot crush me; every obstacle yields to stern resolve.”
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Italian painter, sculptor, architect and engineer.
What happens if you break a spider’s web, or tread on a mole hill, or disturb a bird’s nest, or knock over an ant hill, or pilfer some honey from a beehive, or take the wool off a sheep’s back or draw a pail of milk from a cow? I’ll tell you what happens; they simply start afresh and begin production all over again. So then, take a lesson from Mother Nature and whenever a setback occurs, just grit your teeth and start over. – R. Ian Seymour
R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential
In 1882 Michael Marks, a Jewish refugee from what was then Russian Poland, arrived in England and with a tray around his neck starting selling haberdashery in villages around Leeds in Yorkshire. In 1884 he borrowed five pounds from a wholesaler named Isaac Dewhurst and before the end of the year was able to take a stall in Leeds open-air market. He could not read or write English and so he put up a notice which read, “Don’t ask the price, it’s a penny.” Dewhurst’s cashier, Tom Spencer, became a partner. – Today, Marks and Spencer is the name of a large and respected chain of stores in the UK.
Source: Wesley Harris, 1998, Success is in Giving, Victoria, Australia: Wright Books, p.94
“Looking back, my life seems to have been one long obstacle course, with me as the chief obstacle!”
Jack Paar, US talk show host
In 1894 a young student came across a note, which had been written by his teacher and was attached to his report card. The note said, “Seems to be incapable of further progress!” The note was wrong, and the boy did progress! His name was Winston Churchill
“Give me a lever long enough, and a prop strong enough, and I can single-handed move the world.”
“Every noble work is at first impossible.”
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish essayist and historian
To become is to overcome!
Remember, it doesn’t matter how big the rock is. If you just keep chipping away at it, in the end it’s going to break.
As Joyce Meyer says, ‘We all have a past. No matter how bad your past is, you can get past your past. God can give you a new beginning; he can use you greatly and give you a future.’
Joyce Meyer, Everyday Life Bible (Faithwords, 2018), p.337 & Bible in One Year 2020 with Nicky Gumbel, day 112
Beware of those who stand aloof,
And greet each venture with reproof.
The world would stop if things were run
By those who say, ‘It can’t be done’. (Anon)
“Whatever your history, tomorrow is your future.”
Paul J. Meyer
Overcoming the Obstacle of ‘the unknown’: There are certain things about the future that we don’t know and that we are not supposed to know…
- In 1962 Decca Recording Company rejected the Beatles. They said, ‘We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.’
- In 1974 Margaret Thatcher said, ‘It will be years – not in my time – before a woman will become Prime Minister.’
- In 1977 Ken Olson, Chairman of Digital Equipment Co., said, ‘There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.’
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
“There has not yet been a person in history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering.”
Calm seas do not make for skilful sailors.
“When faced with a mountain, I will not quit! I will keep on striving until I climb over, find a pass through, tunnel underneath or simple stay and turn the mountain into a gold mine, with God’s help.”
Dr Robert H. Schuller, American pastor, writer and television presenter
Every road has its potholes.
“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heart-breaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.”
B. C. Forbes
“Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible obstacles must first be overcome.”
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), British lexicographer and writer
“Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.”
W. C. Fields (1880-1946), actor
In 1902 an aspiring young poet submitted some of his work to the publisher of a prominent magazine called Atlantic Monthly. The poems were returned with a rejection slip that basically said, “Thank you, but we do not feel any of the poems are worth publishing.” Dejected but not defeated, Robert Frost continued in his quest.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to move mountains… it just takes one shovel load at a time.
OPPORTUNITY (see also LUCK/GOOD FORTUNE)