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4 Questions to Overcome Obstacles

I met with a coach today who took me through her annual preparation for the new year. There were six steps, third step — dreaming, fourth step — goal setting. It was the first step that intrigued me — reflection and assessment. She literally takes a hard look at where she is for the purpose of becoming aware of discrepancies between her current location and where she wants to be.


The directories at the mall map out the entire place and then put a big red teardrop that says, “YOU ARE HERE.” She does that for herself, specifically looking at areas where she choses to be the victim. In this case, she defines a victim as someone who blames, excuses, and denies. A victor owns, is held accountable, and takes responsibility.


It sounds like asking ourselves:

  • Where do I believe bad things happened to me?

  • Where did I find reasons to give up?

  • Where did I put things off?

  • Where did I believe it was someone else’s fault?

She sifts though this kind of reflection until she finds a belief, a circumstance, and/or a relationship where she needs to overcome an obstacle of her own making.


This kind of assessment is not very glamorous. It’s not as exciting as vision boards and goal setting journals. However, it sets us up for the dreaming and strategizing in a way that brings real momentum and clear growth.


Dr Henry Cloud loves to tell the story of walking down the sidewalk on Broadway and falling into a deep hole. It was extremely deep and outrageously difficult to get out of. He worked and worked, climbed and fell, climbed again and worked again until finally he managed to get out of the hole. The next day he was walking down Broadway and fell in the same hole. It was dark and damp and deep and horrible. He worked and worked, climbed and fell, worked some more, thought he was never going to get out. Finally, he managed to get out of the hole. The next day he walked down Broadway and saw the hole before he got to it. He walked up to the hole and peered in. He stood right at the edge of the hole and looked at the depth of it. He was peering into the hole some time before he fell in. You already know it was near impossible for him to get out of the hole. The next day he walked down Main street.


It would be so easy to blame the city for not giving good directives or the construction company for not putting up good barriers or the local businesses for not broadcasting warnings but we are only a victim if we choose to be. There are other options. We can own the route we are taking, hold ourself accountable for the decision we make, and take responsibility of the next steps. All of this is best done when we build in intentional reflection time. There is much to be gained by boldly asking ourselves where we chose to be a victim.


Reflect. Acknowledge. Grow.

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