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Life and business, especially as entrepreneurs, can be full of challenges that get in our way and prevent us from achieving our goals and dreams. But you don’t have to see challenges as limiting obstacles. You can see obstacles as opportunities. It’s a matter of choosing your thoughts and perceptions of the challenges.

Common challenges that are often viewed as obstacles

In order to view obstacles as opportunities, you first have to identify the challenges your brain believes are obstacles. Because of negativity bias, our brains are 2/3 more likely to look for the negative in every circumstance or experience. Changing your perception and seeing obstacles as opportunities is key to discovering joy, and living peacefully with purpose.

Here is a short list of challenges that may be seen as obstacles instead of opportunities.

Challenges viewed as obstacles

  1. Sales calls
    • The success of your business is on the other side of the sales call. False. And if you go into a sales call with this belief, you are likely to lose the client. If you have this perspective of a sales call, your brain will see the call as an obstacle, not an opportunity. The reality is that a sales call is your opportunity to serve the person interested in your service.
    • The success of your business is not dependent on the outcome of the sales call. Think of the hummingbird effect, if one hummingbird is at your feeder, there are likely 10 more in the area waiting to visit the feeder.
    • If you do not convert the person to a paying client on the sales call, you can learn from the experience. Instead of looking at the call as an obstacle see it as an opportunity for growth.
    • How can you learn from the experience of a sales call? After each sale call, do an evaluation of the call. Not “oh that went well” or “that didn’t go well”, but a deep dive into the call.
    • For example:
      • Did you get to know about the problem the prospective client has?
      • Were there objections about hiring you and did you effectively address them? Money and time are the most frequent objections. Always be prepared to address them.
      • What could you have done differently to change the outcome of the call?
      • Did you follow your process for handling the call?
      • Do you have an automated system in place for onboarding clients if the sales call goes according to plan so that you aren’t frantic about time should the client convert?
      • You can see obstacles as opportunities if you continually monitor your perception of situations such as sales calls. You can choose to see sales calls as challenges, or you can learn from each one and see them as opportunities for growth.
  2. A bad review or testimonial
    • What is your perspective on a bad review? Because of negativity bias, your brain is automatically going to think that the bad review is going to be the demise of your business, an obstacle to your success.
    • If you receive a bad review, how can you look at it from the perspective of obstacles as opportunities?
      • You can use the perceived obstacle as an opportunity to learn something about yourself and your business.
      • Choose to respond to the review in a kind, generous, graceful way that demonstrates to anyone reading the response that you are a great person and capable of helping others that come your way.
      • Don’t take it personally. Chances are that the person who wrote the testimonial is unhappy and didn’t put the work in that you recommended and therefore didn’t achieve the results they wanted. You cannot control what other people think and say, but you can control your reaction, response, and perception.
      • Likewise, you can use the bad review as content. Explain why you do what you do and how you do it. Maybe that person wasn’t your soulmate client and now you have an opportunity to talk about why you only work with certain people, to ensure they are a good fit for you and your service.
      • Similarly, this is a great time to evaluate your processes and messaging to ensure you attract the right people and serve them to the best of your ability.
      • If you receive a bad review, was there a breakdown someplace in your business? Discover what it was and how you can fix it to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
      • Seeing obstacles as opportunities is the only mindset to have in this situation or you will become afraid, start procrastinating, and get stuck in a negative mindset that will hold you back from any future success.
  3. Someone betrays you, personally or professionally
    • Who hasn’t experienced this at least once in their life?
    • Betrayal is beyond a challenge, it becomes an obstacle to trust and future involvement with the person.
    • But betrayal does not have to be an obstacle that holds you back from future relationships or from trusting again.
    • Things don’t happen to you, they happen for you. I truly believe this. If someone betrays you, you have an opportunity to reevaluate who you let into your life (or business), who you trust, and the extent of the relationship you develop with people in the future.
    • Being betrayed may help you see people in a new light going forward.
    • This one betrayal may save you from many betrayals down the road.
    • Negativity bias is going to cause you to want to hold onto this betrayal, but you have the choice to perceive the situation as an opportunity to exercise forgiveness, give yourself grace, and move on to better, more meaningful relationships. Here is another blog post on approaching life from a positive perspective. 
    • And another blog post on forgiveness to give you another perspective.
    • The obstacles as opportunities mindset is key for personal and business relationships moving forward.
  4. You made a mistake, big or small
    • Everyone makes mistakes but not everyone views mistakes as obstacles that are going to destroy their future.
    • The most beautiful thing about our complex brains is that we can change our neural pathways. That means, if you choose to see obstacles as opportunities, you can shift your negativity bias and become more productive and successful.
    • Mistakes can be viewed as setbacks or opportunities to learn and grow.
    • Often, mistakes are made so that we can see a new path, a better path, that will lead to even more opportunities than the path we were originally on.
    • Some mistakes may seem detrimental and overbearing, but you get to choose how you perceive them.
    • You have a choice to be disciplined in your thinking and to see mistakes as learning opportunities for self-improvement.
    • I don’t believe you will ever fail because of a mistake. As I said before, things happen for you, not to you. Every mistake you make is a learning opportunity so that you don’t fail in the future. And even if something you did leads to a failure of sorts, it is still an opportunity for learning and growth and therefore cannot be viewed as a failure.

What does this mean, to see obstacles as opportunities?

It means that you are in control. How you react is in your control. The thoughts, feelings, and behaviors you choose in reaction to any of the aforementioned scenarios are in your control.

How beautiful is it that you get to choose how you perceive every experience, interaction, circumstance, and relationship?

It takes discipline to see obstacles as opportunities

Because of negativity bias and the way our brain is hardwired to look for the negative, mindset work is imperative. The good news is that you have the power to choose to do the work necessary to change the neural pathways in your brain. Of course, the more you see obstacles as opportunities, the easier they will become, but it will always take work. Work that I refer to as action.

So that you can get started doing the work sooner than later, I am going to recommend my RAG model and my 5 Cs of journaling method. When something happens in your life, like any of the above circumstances, recognize the negative thoughts and feelings you have. Catch them before you go into a downward spiral of negative actions or behaviors.

Then, address them by challenging them. Are your thoughts rational? Would someone you love and respect be thinking the same way? Are you being realistic or are you overdramatizing the situation? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then get rid of the thoughts by changing them. Change them to something positive. Make a list of positive alternative thoughts.

The more your practice this and stay disciplined to taking action when negative thoughts come into play, the more quickly you will be able to gain control of your thoughts. With control comes confidence. This means, that you will soon be on your way to seeing all, or at least most, obstacles as opportunities.

Use these scripture verses as affirmations or mantras when feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or stressed about challenges in your life and business
  1. Philippians 4:13 “I can do anything through Him who gives me strength.”
  2. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

My inspiration for this post came from The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday.

To get started with the 5 Cs of journaling method, be sure to download my free eBook on Alleviating Anxiety by Developing Healthy Habits for a Healthy Mind.

Or, purchase the You, Me, and Anxiety: Take Action Over Anxiety To Enjoy Being You Journal by clicking here.

Additional free resources

Are you an entrepreneur with anxiety?

Leverage your brain to succeed.

The number one reason you lose opportunity. 


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