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Obstacles Into Opportunities

Jan 26, 2008
"It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities." --Eric Hoffer

In high school I had this one teacher who was relentlessly optimistic. She was positive about everything. It bugged me because, well, because I was a teenager. This teacher would explain that everything 'bad' could be turned into something 'good'. Obstacles and setbacks could be turned around and reframed as learning experiences. According to her, even a broken heart over a crush could be seen as 'preparation for really clarifying what we want in a mate'. And if we had struggles with subjects in school, these because self challenges, opportunities to triumph over adversity.

This seriously annoyed me.

Now, as an adult, and a parent of teenagers (who happen not to be pessimists or negative), I realize that she was 100%, absolutely correct.

Unfortunately, it's sometimes easy to get into a rut. We become trapped by ways of thinking that aren't really helpful or healthy for us. We've all heard 'glass half full/glass half empty'.

It isn't the events in your life that make you who you are, it is your response to these events which reveal your true character. As of late, I've been exploring the idea that our emotions and emotional responses to external stimuli, are choices. Emotions are choices. In some ways, I found this to be a revelation. And this was very freeing for me. I can choose whether or not to be angry. I can choose whether or not to fear. I can choose whether or not to be depressed about things I have no control over.

Changing this pattern also requires that we pay careful and patient attention to the language we use. I am choosing to be courageous. I am choosing to let this go. I am choosing to realize that I am separate from the things that happen around me.

By readjusting our obstacles into opportunities, we attract more of what we want. What if it's that simple? It's worth it to suspend cynicism and let go of the patterns that have kept us stagnant, don't you think?

I only wish I had learned this lesson earlier. Not that I was a depressed or pessimistic kid, but we all have moments. . . This reframing of struggle into potential and exciting lessons is exactly the kind of thing that we as persuaders can learn from. Framing and reframing our lives and the lives of those around us is absolutely mandatory if we want to succeed in persuasion. Helping others to see that the glass is half full, helping others to see how our products and services will benefit them immeasurably in life, helping our loved ones, our teenagers, to realize that every day we make the choice (many times unconsciously) to be unhappy, is a real revelation. Let's make our choices consciously and use that consciousness for relentless optimism.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches strategies to earn the business of wealthy clients using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion strategies.
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