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6 Ways to Overcome Obstacles

Photo by Sandeep Murali
Your big opportunity may be right where you are now. ~Napoleon Hill

We’ve all got evocative childhood memories — some that stick out more than others. For me, one of the most powerful memories, not to mention one of my most favorite, began when I was just four years old.

I was a shy child. In fact, I was painfully shy. I only really talked to my family, my cabbage-patch kids and occasionally, my pet rocks. With kindergarten fast approaching, my parents were understandably worried. They wanted me to be comfortable talking to other kids in class and to teachers.

Thus began one of my favorite memories.

Talking With My Father

My dad was a wise man. He knew that if he spent time with me and worked on my communication skills one-on-one, I’d start to feel safe airing my opinions and thoughts. I’d also get the practice I needed to start feeling confident enough to talk freely with others.

Once a week, he would lace up his grey New Balance sneakers, I would Velcro my red Stride Rites and we’d head out for a long walk around the neighborhood together. During these walks, we’d spend the time chatting and admiring nature. Dad used this time to share stories with me, to ask me questions, and, just as importantly, to teach me how to ask questions of others.

Pretty soon, these walks became the highlight of my week. I certainly learned a few things about how to overcome my shyness. But I also learned about how to overcome any challenge in life.

1. Believe

I knew that I couldn’t overcome my shyness. In fact, at the time, I believed it would be easier to try to put together that impossible 149-piece Barbie Dreamhouse than try to talk confidently with people I didn’t know!

However, my dad showed me that sometimes, all you need is someone else to believe in you. Not a week went by when he didn’t reinforce his belief that I would soon be a comfortable, capable conversationalist. I may not have believed in myself, but I certainly believed in him. His faith was enough to carry both of us, until my own confidence grew.

The lesson here? Even if you don’t believe you can get past what you’re facing, if you have just one person who does believe in you, trust them. Listen to them, and you’re already well on your way.

2. Two Heads Are Better Than One

As a child, I’m not sure I would have been able to tackle my shyness on my own. However, having the unwavering support of my father made me feel as though I was never alone in the challenge. He was always there, encouraging me and gently motivating me to succeed.

When going through any challenge in life, it’s certainly much easier to overcome them with people who love and care about you. Be open to other people helping you; give them the opportunity to work with you to help you overcome your challenges. Trust me, they want to give you that support, because they love and care for you.

3. Reward Yourself

Midway through our walks we would pass a gas station. We’d go in, and my dad would tell me to pick out any candy bar that I wanted. After buying it, we would sit outside on the bench and quietly enjoy the rich, delicious sweetness.

There’s a lot to be said for rewarding yourself from time to time. Of course, it doesn’t have to be chocolate. It could be a bubble-bath, a manicure or even just a simple self-acknowledgement telling yourself you’re making progress.

4. It’s Not All About The Challenge

Of course, on our walks, my dad and I would chat. But we’d also spend a lot of time admiring the leaves. My father would stop, taking the time to point out the lines and grooves on a glowing yellow maple leaf.

Or he would encourage me to run my fingers around the delicate edges of a red-orange oak leaf. Soon we started collecting some, taking the best leaves home and preserving them in a collection book.

You might think that doing something like this would detract you from the task at hand — namely overcoming the challenge. But it didn’t at all. It gave me something new to be passionate and enthusiastic about, and that’s a powerful thing!

Sometimes, when we go through challenges, it’s a good idea to remind yourself that there’s more to life than the problems you’re currently facing. Take joy in the wonders of the world around you wherever possible. Aim to remind yourself that there’s a lot to live for; it’s just a matter of keeping yourself open to the possibilities.

5. Don’t Quit … Even When You Don’t Succeed

When I reached kindergarten, I had improved a little. I was even talking to some kids my age. However, talking to grown-ups, not to mention talking in class, was still a petrifying experience. Dad remained unconcerned. We continued our walks, our talks and our leaf collecting. And slowly but surely, I improved. By first grade, I was even talking in class!

Dad showed me the importance of perseverance, of continually striving to improve, and in appreciating the small, incremental progress we make. Progress always means we’re getting somewhere, even if it’s just a little at a time! As long as we progress, we’re better off than we were.

6. Opportunity

Before that very first walk, I remember so clearly how daunting a prospect it was, to talk to other people. If you had asked me back then whether or not I could see anything good coming out of overcoming this particular challenge, I would have said no.

However, looking back on it, I realize now that not only did I learn to overcome my shyness, but even better, I had the opportunity to spend time with one of the people I loved most in the world. Now that my dad is no longer physically with me, I am so grateful that I have these treasured memories of him.

Sometimes when we face challenges in life, it’s not immediately apparent why we have to go through them. We may not immediately see the benefits that they offer, only the complexities and obstacles they present.

However, from this challenge, as well as many others that I have gone through in life, I have learned that there is always a golden maple leaf to accompany every hardship. It’s just a matter of seeking it out.

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About the author

Hilary Neiman is the author of Things Fall Apart.  She can be reached through her website:

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1 thought on 6 Ways to Overcome Obstacles

  1. Shakir

    I’ve been reading some good articles on this website lately. As usual this article was very helpful. It would be great if we had the option of signing up for an account and customise categories we want to read or follow :)

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