4 Proven Tips for Overcoming Obstacles in Life and Business

I always pass people on the hills when I run. Because I’m super-fast?  Nope. I’m typically one of the slowest people out there.

Slow and steady wins the race?  That’s me. Except the winning part. I’ve never won a race. Ever. They tried to make me run in 3rd grade because I was small and looked fast I guess. That ended in a pink participation ribbon for dead last.

So, no, not because I’m fast. But because I lean in. I don’t quit. I tell myself my legs are strong. I don’t give up. I tell myself to push while people are backing off to walk.  I tell myself I’m getting stronger with every step.

You know I’m going to turn this into an analogy for life and business, right?  So, buckle up.

Did you know that some of the wealthiest people get rich during a recession?  Yes, while people are dumping stocks and going out of business, there are people poised, healthy, and ready for an opportunity to get into business at a good value.

Ever heard of Warren Buffet?  He’s reported to have made upwards of $10 billion dollars as a result of buying stock in companies during the 2008 recession.

During that same housing bubble burst that caused the devastating recession, I was in a panic as an executive at a community bank.  I followed all the national news and headlines, devouring The Wall Street Journal and every financial medium I could find. 

This was the fist major event of my career in banking.  We were struggling with past due loans and increased foreclosure rates.  It seemed every day brought more bad news to handle.  But thankfully a mentor of mine got a hold of me early in the financial crisis.

I told her of the sleepless nights I experienced as I worried about our business and those of our clients.  I’m sure she could hear the anxiety hanging from my every word as I recounted all the horrible news of the day.  But her reaction surprised me.  She told me I was in charge of how we made it through the recession starting with my thoughts about it. 

She instructed me to change my outlook and change the words I spoke to my clients and my employees.  Here’s how she told me she was handling it in her business.

She said, “We didn’t sign up for this recession.  It’s business as usual.  We are smart and competent business leaders and we will navigate our way through this leaner and stronger than ever.”

Wow.  I didn’t realize you could choose whether you signed up for the recession.   This was a huge lesson for me and one we can all use in life and business.  When it gets challenging, when faced with an obstacle or a hill, this is where a lot of people quit, slow down, and give up. 

So how do you become a person who makes it up the hill?  Here are my lessons learned when dealing with the hills:

1)      Look in front of you, not around you.  There’s no reason to look around and see what other people are doing.   This is your race.  Do what you can with the tools you have right now.

2)      Talk about the situation you want, not the situation you have.  Rehashing and rehearsing the same negative situation will get you more of the same, and leave you in a perpetually bad mood.  Instead, speak in language that creates a positive outlook on what you expect to happen.  Your words have power.  Use them for good.

3)      Keep moving forward.  The only way to get up the hill or around the obstacle is to keep moving.  If you stop completely due to fear, it’s harder to get your momentum going again.   Make a list of what you can do to move forward.  Chunk it down into small, achievable steps, and get to work on making them happen.

4)      Remember your goal and let it motivate you.  Why are you out here anyway?  Find your why again and run towards that.

So, what can you do today to make it up that hill?  Promise yourself you’ll lean in.  You’ll find a way.  No matter if it’s a recession, a legal battle, bankruptcy, or growth pains as a startup, you can do it. 

You are strong.  You are competent.  You are resilient.  You will come out of this leaner and stronger if you keep the right focus.  Onward and upward friends.