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The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity.

Since the covid19 lockdown really kicked in I have been absolutely fascinated, you could almost say obsessed, with one thing in particular over these last 9 weeks, and that is how people have responded to what is going on around them and more notably, what has driven their response.

Having never experienced the trifecta of a Brexit, global pandemic, downturn before, the majority of us are sort of making this up as we go… and I think on the whole most of us are doing a pretty good job of it, all things considering!

However, the bit I find truly fascinating right now is the link between people’s thought processes and the resulting realities we end up facing. There is no doubt in mind that a large part of the situation we currently find ourselves in socially, economically, even down to the actual number of cases / mortalities from Covid19 itself would have all been very different had people’s responses to all this had been different. Hindsight is always a beautiful thing, of course!

I am by no means calling into question here how anyone has reacted over this time.  I am not sure I really have a right to do this as my experience of the current situation will be wildly different from many others’ experiences and we all have our own, deeply personal journeys to go on right now.  This is not what this is about.

What this is about, and the question I think we all need to ask ourselves now more than ever, is to what extent are we aware of our reactions that are being driven by certain triggers that surround us?  In other words, do we realise how much our personal behaviours change because of the resultant effect of other people’s responses to a perhaps completely disparate situation?

We’re seeing this right now with the whole Dominic Cumnings situation and how this is currently playing out…

  • An event happens as it did with his trip to Durham (you may think what he did is right or wrong, or you may be indifferent).
  • The media comment (appropriately or inappropriately, you decide).
  • People respond to how the media respond (generally in one of two different ways).
  • People respond to how other people have responded to how the media commented (go with me on this!).
  • People change their behaviours accordingly (again, generally in one of two different ways).
  • A resultant situation occurs that will trigger a new reality (with new belief systems and new responses to future events).

The fact of the matter is, that with all that is going on around us, the way in which we respond to everything now will ultimately determine what each of our own personal outcomes will be coming out the other side of all this, from both a personal as well as a business perspective, and what our journeys will be like on the way.

I’ve been intrigued recently by the work of Ryan Holliday (check out his book The Obstacle is the Way) and how different people over history have responded to the different obstacles they have faced, and importantly the methods they have used to be able do that.

The process Holliday describes in his book can be broken down into three distinct parts, that I believe should make up our strategies moving forward to how we deal with the situations, obstacles, adversity we currently face.

  • Part One – Perception: What is your attitude towards the situation you are facing (remember, this will ultimately determine the outcome)?
  • Part Two – Action: taking each problematic situation, each obstacle, and turning them into an opportunity (this nicely ties in nicely with some of the Blue Ocean Strategy work we have been doing).
  • Part Three – Will: Building up levels of perseverance to help overcome any obstacle

What we have before us right now is not only the ultimate challenge for many of us, but also the ultimate opportunity, and how we respond to what is happening, how we respond to other people’s response to what is happening, will determine what our own personal outcomes will be from this.

Spend less time concerned about what other people are doing, how others are behaving, and more time understanding how you are responding so you don’t miss out on the huge opportunity that will naturally derive from situations like this.  As Holliday concludes in his book:

“The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.”