“The superior man makes the difficulty to be overcome his first interest; success only comes later.” ~Confucius
I think of myself as a social entrepreneur whose work serves my fellow humans and the Universe. And in my journey to build a company that is genuinely meaningful to me and helpful to others, I have encountered countless obstacles which sometimes make you question yourself, your purpose, and leads you to entertain the idea of quitting — and, trust me, I have had those darker days. But, there was never a day when I would seriously throw in the towel because my conviction for what I do is truly deep.
It’s hard to see through all the smoke when we have endless obstacles and pain that ignite our flames of emotions: fear, anger, frustration, to name a few. These emotions are overwhelming, and, sometimes, they can paralyze us. I have found that whenever I placed more meaning in my work, greater obstacles were targeted in my path. At first, I was frustrated — even angry — by this, but over time realized that my obstacles were just abiding by the laws of cause-and-effect in the Universe: that the effect of greatness could only be achieved by the cause of overcoming big obstacles. Our history illustrates this in such great leaders as Jesus, Buddha, Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, et al — all leaders who were challenged and persecuted by the people of their times. While difficulties are presented to us, however, they are not done so in vain. As pastor Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” says, “God doesn’t waste a hurt.” Wow, how deep and powerful is that! However, Pastor Warren elaborates on the downside that we, as humans, don’t necessarily embrace and seize the hidden gifts of pain because we don’t realize their true value, so we waste them away. With the same meaning but articulated in a different way, Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” While it may not be obvious to us that obstacles and pain really exist for our benefit, the Universe in its vast wisdom provides and blesses us with them to teach us lessons and help us to grow. So instead of fighting or resisting our pain and obstacles, we must accept them, as they place us on the path of our calling, which is when we achieve our true greatness.
So how do we evaluate our obstacles and pains? When the Universe presents us with them, we should carefully listen to its message(s):
Change Direction/Break Out of Comfort Zone
If something is not working, then it might be time to make a change and release your old ways. We all love to stay in our comfort zone, but it is not always in our best interest. Ironically there is only one constant in our lives, and that is change. You have to be creative, thinking out-of-the-box and pushing yourself to go beyond boundaries that make you feel comfortable. It is in such moments when you often find solutions. I found that sometimes solutions come from being open to new experiences and ideas. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I start reading books on random subjects that have nothing to do with my problem, and in doing so, new ideas start to ignite that would have otherwise not crossed my mind. Jonathan Lockwood Huie said, “I release the familiar that I may better discover my inspiring future.” So taking yourself into unchartered territories can provide the right answers.
The Road Less Traveled
To truly overcome your obstacles, I have found in my own journey that it helps to take the path of the road less traveled, so do not take the easy way out. Do not settle on the first thing that comes along because it was convenient or you’re fearful that nothing better will appear; keep searching until you feel the path is right. While taking short cuts may be convenient in the short term, it will not benefit you in the long term. Do it the right way, which often is the harder way, because this road will provide everlasting rewards, as opposed to short temporary ones.
Open your Heart
Have you ever had that moment of clarity: “Yes, I finally got it!,” thinking why didn’t I see it before when it was so obvious? When you open your heart to connect with the Universe, it will clear up the fog and show you the path to answers. Einstein could not have put it more eloquently when he said: “when the solution is simple, God is answering.” By opening your heart, you are tapping into energies and vibrations higher than yourself which allows you to find the right answers.
I know that I do my best work when I’m being authentic. Embrace your genuine self in who you are and what you do, because the Universe likes to reward authenticity. There is only so long you can get away with being fake, right? By being genuine, you are establishing organic relationships with others and the Universe, which creates wonderful and magical opportunities for you. Without authenticity, the foundation of your house will eventually crumble, leaving you with nothing, so it is very important to be genuine.
About the Journey, Not the Destination
Many of us are slaves to the end results often for material gain, money being the central focus. Obstacles are not presented to us to reach an end goal; their true purpose exists in order to teach us invaluable life lessons. If you always make it about the end result, then you will find yourself very disappointed because life does not enfold the way you plan it, but it does so by the way the Universe designed it. So place your focus on learning from your obstacles, rather than having it serve your end goal. As Confucius says, “success only comes later” if you just focus on the journey of lessons. So, make your obstacles about the journey, not the destination.
Obstacles and pains ultimately serve a very important spiritual purpose: to learn life lessons. When we learn from this spiritual education, then the rewards of this holy relationship are fulfilling beyond measure. The greater the difficulty, the greater the glory in overcoming it, so use your obstacles as the greatest opportunity to turn your life into a magical one!
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living
“A Purpose Driven Life” by Pastor Rick Warren
The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation