Success is attainable if you have the right mindset and are willing to work hard and overcome obstacles. This mindset is not a natural attitude. The instinct for most people, when presented with an obstacle, is to accept it as a limitation and stop all progress. Overcoming obstacles means more work. It means accepting multiple failures before succeeding. It means doing things differently. The scary thing about doing things differently is that you don’t know how it will turn out. That’s okay; no one does. But if you don’t try to find success, your results are guaranteed: nothing.
Some of the best advice I received as a Navy SEAL came from my second commanding officer at SEAL Delivery Team TWO. He pulled me aside just before deploying for a special projects mission and said, “Lieutenant Mills, always remember, no matter what happens, make a decision and take action. If it’s the wrong decision, you’ll know quickly and you can make a better decision. But whatever you do, make a decision—not taking action kills people.” I’ve never forgotten those words, nor have I forgotten that officer—he was a truly remarkable leader.
Overcoming obstacles and finding success requires you to take action. You won’t know if it’s the right action until you’ve ventured down the path of your decision. If it wasn’t right, don’t allow yourself to get wrapped up in it. Just smile to yourself and say, “Okay, I just learned another way NOT to do something,” and move on. I’ve failed many more times than I’ve succeeded, but those failures have been my building blocks for success. Each failure and subsequent success started with improvising, implementing, adapting, and overcoming.
“Obstacles are there to stop the other people who don’t have the courage or the willingness to improvise around them.”
The key to building a success mindset is to create a habit of asking yourself, “Is there a better way to do this?” Seeking a better way, no matter what challenge you face, will lead you to overcome obstacles and find success. Don’t wait to ask this question when you’re already stuck in a corner. Ask it anytime during your journey that you run across someone making a decision. This could be in a newspaper story, a magazine, a book, the classroom, on a sports field, or on the Internet.
The point is that building a success mindset happens right now, not just when you need it. Like anything you practice, the more you do it the better you’ll get. Lots of people will come up with a better way to do something, but what will separate you from everyone else is that you’re going to take action on your ideas. When an obstacle comes between you and your goal, smile confidently and know that the obstacle is there to stop the other people who don’t have the courage or the willingness to improvise around it.
Seven Ways to Overcome Obstacles and Find Success
Now that we have an understanding of the general principles of choosing the right mindset and taking goal-driven actions to implement your ideas and go after your dreams, let’s review some specific ways to overcome obstacles and find success.
1. Believe in yourself: Having a positive, can-do attitude is essential when facing obstacles and setbacks. Believing in yourself means believing that you are capable of achieving your goals, no matter how big or small they may be. Before you can achieve, you must first believe. It’s an important message, but it’s not as simple as some would tell you, “All I have to do is believe and I can achieve anything I want.” Of course, you’re not sure—you have doubts. I know exactly how you feel. I was a kid with asthma whose doctor said I should learn to play chess, and I couldn’t even play checkers all that well. Later on, as an entrepreneur, I learned one million four hundred seventy five thousand dollars worth of ways not to launch a product; and some of my investors told me it was time to stop embarrassing myself and go get a job. To overcome obstacles and ultimately find success, I had to find my reason to believe.
2. Stay positive and optimistic: Inevitably, there will be times when you stumble and face obstacles on the path to achieving your goals. In those moments, it’s important to maintain a positive, optimistic outlook and see each obstacle as an opportunity for growth. The trick is separating the beliefs that help you from those that hinder you. And, taking action—relentless action—which is the direct result of your beliefs. You don’t lose twenty-five pounds in a day, and you may have failed to sustain relentless action in the past. The key is to recognize and focus on the beliefs that will help you accomplish the goal you’ve chosen. It’s easier said than done; but, every time I believed I couldn’t do something, I was right. But, it was only because I hadn’t taken action!
3. Set goals and work towards them: Rather than simply allowing obstacles and setbacks to derail you, set goals for yourself and work steadily towards achieving them. This will help keep you focused on your end goal, even in the face of adversity. First, you recognize a reason to believe, and that will come from the small successes in your life. Every time I believed I could do something, I made progress in the direction of my course. Sometimes it didn’t feel like progress, as I only learned a few ways not to do something, but it still progressed because I didn’t give up believing I could do it! Instead of focusing on the mountain of obstacles, change your perspective using visualization, which involves picturing yourself successfully achieving your goals and overcoming the challenges that you face. By visualizing success regularly, you can boost your confidence and increase your chances of success in real life.
4. Persevere through tough times: What you believe decides what you can or can’t do! The key is all about instilling habits that help you succeed at the things you can control. You can’t control what others say, what others do, what others think, and what others feel; but you can control how you will handle things you can’t control. You can control the course you take and most importantly, you can control your actions and your ability to believe. Reframe setbacks as learning experiences. When you encounter obstacles or setbacks, look for the lessons you can learn from them. Reframing helps to shift your focus away from negative thoughts or emotions. This will help you grow as an individual and propel you forward on your journey to success.
5. Take action and don’t procrastinate: Success comes from building habits that enable you to take the correct actions toward fulfilling your dream. I wasn’t the best student in school, nor was I the best athlete; heck I wasn’t even the best Navy SEAL. But I made it my goal to be the best at never giving up—at dreaming big and being personally accountable for making my dreams come true. Instead of avoiding challenges and putting off taking action to solve problems, embrace every problem by saying, “OK. Where’s the opportunity?” The problem will make me stronger. Break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable steps. This not only helps us set more realistic expectations, but also gives us a clear roadmap for achieving our objectives. By tackling one small part at a time, we can avoid feeling overwhelmed and make progress towards our goal.
6. Be prepared and always learn: Being prepared means considering all the things that can go wrong, and then coming up with a contingency plan. Some call this “out-of-the-box” thinking, but I call it 3-D planning. Think of it as looking at a plan from every angle, not just where you want to go, but also at the things that could change your course, and plan how to deal with them. You plan to prepare yourself for the unexpected. To prepare, one must first plan. The better your plan, the better you can prepare; the better you prepare, the better your chances of success. Some say, “Failure to plan is planning for failure.” I say, “Embrace failure as a way to learn”—failure is what makes you smarter; it provides the answers and enables you to become better. Don’t aim for failure, but when you do fail, learn from it.
7. Help others and give back: Surround yourself with supportive people. Having a strong support network can be critical in helping you overcome obstacles and achieve success. In anything significant that I’ve accomplished, from leading three Navy SEAL platoons to running a fast-growing startup, I needed to team up with other people who were great at the things I wasn’t great at. Reaching out to friends, family members, or other trusted advisors can provide you with invaluable advice and encouragement as you work through challenging times. Not only do we benefit directly from having a strong support network, but once we start serving and making an impact on others, we’re not thinking about our own plight anymore. We’re thinking about lifting others up, being a value to others, and avoiding the traps of self-pity and situational depression, which are very normal reactions.
Overcoming Obstacles and Finding Success Means to Implement, Adapt, and Overcome: Implement an action, adapt to the result, and repeat until you’ve overcome the obstacle. Be like a river and find your path over, under, around, or through—always keep trying and don’t stop flowing. Your success will come from your ability to keep trying. Success is attainable if you have the right mindset and are willing to work hard and overcome obstacles. These seven tips will help set you on the path to success. Just remember to never give up on your dreams, and anything is possible! Check out our Resources and Courses sections for more information on overcoming obstacles, developing your resilience, improving your overall well-being, and reaching your full potential. And don’t forget to sign up for our free monthly newsletter to get regular tips, inspiration, and advice delivered straight to your inbox.