I recently completed a week of a juice only diet…proud to say I lost 7 kilos in the process! So the week for me, was challenging both mentally and physically. It is the kind of week that is stressful, but very rewarding if you choose to look at it in a positive way. Some would see the obstacles and complain about having so much to do and not enough energy to do it all, where I see it as an opportunity to learn about myself and where some of my own weaknesses are.
Obstacles are not always road blocks, or problems. They are opportunities for to learn new problem solving skills, and learn things about ourselves. We don’t become better by tackling the easy tasks that confront us each day. We turn our weaknesses into strengths by understanding where we are weak, and focusing our attention there. So the obstacle is not something to shy away from then, but something that we should instantly recognize as an opportunity to expose weakness in ourselves and a challenge to rise above it.
In sports (and in life), these moments are what constantly help us to become better athletes (and individuals). There will always be another difficult training session, a day where it is hard to focus, a hard race to swim, and a competitor that is tough to beat. Remember the saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link?” Or “when the going gets tough, the tough get going?” I think these two sayings are actually closely related. In order for us to make our mental and physical “chains” stronger, we have to develop our weaknesses and make them stronger, and we can only do that by facing obstacles. Obstacles determine what our next level of achievement will be. Whether it will be a stepping stone to greater heights or the place where we stop our forward progress is largely a matter of how you choose to view it. I believe that when “the going gets tough” shouldn’t be a finish line, but a starting point. For it is at that moment that we define what our strengths and weaknesses are. It is usually when “the going gets tough” that we are on the verge of our biggest breakthroughs. Yes, the level of our effort needs to go up! Yes, the challenges that are facing us may seem insurmountable. Yes, the likelihood that you will fail (sometimes repeatedly) is difficult to face. That is when it is time to focus on the little things
We face many obstacles in life. Some are easy to overcome, and others take a lot of effort and motivation to get past them. Often, you will find that getting through one obstacle will present you with another one that requires more effort and more focus to get passed. When you face these obstacles, you will also face your own weaknesses. Whether these moments will be stopping points for you, or stepping stones to greater achievements will largely be determined by whether you will recognize the weakness in yourself and make an effort to get stronger. Sometimes the success may have a reward (a better grade, winning a medal, or a promotion at work) and sometimes the reward is knowing that you are a stronger person than you were last week, or having a better understanding of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Whatever the situation, it is up to you to define whether the task ahead is an obstacle that will stop your forward progress, or an opportunity for you to succeed.