We are at the end of the first quarter of the year, and it has been a whirlwind.  In January, we set goals, and decided what we wanted from the New Year.  Many of us are finding that challenges and obstacles have been popping up, impacting our ability to achieve the goals or deliver our best. Despite trying our best efforts, the obstacles remain, defying our attempts and intentions to move closer to our goals. 

Obstacles come in two broad categories:

  • Obstacles that are outside our control (external locus of control)
  • Obstacles that are within our control (internal locus of control)

Putting energy into aspects of life that I have no control over drains me (e.g., loadshedding, politics, corruption etc.).  It leaves me feeling negative and despondent with less insight and energy to resolve the aspects I can control. I’d like to focus this article on obstacles that are within our control.  This focus allows us to be more resilient. 

An obstacle is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “a thing that blocks one’s way or prevents or hinders progress”.  In our lives, obstacles can serve several purposes. They can be gifts:

  • They can stop or slow us down and help us reconsider our goals and decide whether it is right for us. 
  • They also present themselves to make us overcome them.  We expand our perspective by overcoming them. 
  • We always learn and grow from obstacles, even though they can be deeply frustrating in the moment, the lessons will shape how we will handle ourselves in the future.

Donna McCallum, one of my teachers (www.donnamccallum.com), shared a model that says our results come from our beliefs.  Her model states that beliefs direct thoughts, thoughts direct actions/inaction and actions/inaction leads to results.  If we are willing to explore this model, the source of most obstacles is a limiting belief

This leads me to two questions:

  • If my obstacles come from my beliefs, how do I find out what the belief is? and
  • When I uncover the belief, how do I change my belief, so I can overcome the obstacle, act differently, and achieve my goals?

Uncovering beliefs is like working with an onion.  There are often multiple layers digging deeper and deeper to the core of the belief.  The belief has generally been built to protect us and keep us safe from potential hurts.  What beliefs are protecting us from stings and is hard to look at.  It may even bring a tear to your eye.  In my experience, when this happens, I know I am getting closer to the heart of the matter. (Leoni and Kevin will expand on this in this month’s vlog).   

How do I find the limiting belief?

Leoni (the co-owner of RainTree and my business partner) is incredible at delving into her beliefs.  She looks at the pain points and the repeated patterns in her life and she journals.  She holds them lightly.  She observes the common outcome. She explores what caused the outcome.  Finally, she allows herself to gently (yet often painfully), consider the limiting belief behind the action and thoughts.  She challenges the belief hidden deep inside.  This process takes courage, time, and a deep commitment to identifying the limiting belief.

How do I change my limiting belief? 

Three years ago, Leoni introduced me to Byron Katie (www.thework.com) and her powerful limiting belief busting tools.  Generally, when a belief is exposed, we need to challenge ourselves to explore the truth of the belief.  Is it all encompassing and true in every situation? Is the belief still relevant to who we are today or is it stuck in the younger version of ourselves who we have evolved beyond?  For me, the most freeing question Byron Katie asks is “who would you be without the belief?” Without fail, the person I am is stronger, healthier, kinder, and more successful.  I can lead others with greater compassion.  I can overcome the obstacles because my perspective changes and my views expand. 

As we start the second quarter of the year, are your leadership and business goals important enough for you to reflect on, consider and explore limiting beliefs that may be impacting you or your team’s ability to move forward?  Obstacles are frustrating and challenging.  They are also the lessons that help us to grow and become strong enough to lead ourselves and others with conviction and courage.

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