Obstacle? Or Stepping Stone?

Looking back over the last decade and a half, I don’t think I have ever gone through a single year without a new challenge. Whether it was taking Illinois State Bar Exam in 2005 only for my admission to be delayed a full year because of paperwork and a botched test, or going to China to learn Chinese in 2007, or working in a software company with zero Computer Science background, I can easily say that these are all obstacles.

I can just as easily say that all these problems are a stepping stone to something greater. After taking the bar exams in two different states and having prepared for two years, I walked away as a better exam taker. Furthermore, I can teach other students how to take standardized tests. The difficulties working in a field I have no background in taught me humility. The “hard” stuff like configuring an application server and testing – that takes persistence and practice.

At the end of the day, it is a matter of perspective. Do you see the problem as an obstacle? Or do you use that problem as a stepping stone?

Take a look at those gym blocks above. Each weighs anywhere from 18 to 25 pounds (9-13 kilograms). If I put one of them in the middle of my living room, then it is an obstacle. But if I started jumping on it and then off repeatedly, then it becomes gym equipment. Good cardio exercise. Again, this is a matter of perspective.

I don’t know what you are dealing with. I don’t know if you are feeling the general stress of being quarantined because of the pandemic. Or maybe something more specific like the end of a relationship or the loss of a job. Maybe you are stressed because you are starting something new – like a new job, relationship, or being parents for the first time. In the last 11 months, I have experienced all of them – either personally or in my friends’ lives.

Obstacle? Or stepping stone? That’s the question you have to answer for yourself.

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