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How To Turn Your Obstacles Into Stepping Stones


By Scott NinnemanPublished 2 years ago 4 min read

Have you heard about the blind mountain climber? No, that’s not the opening line of a joke. Instead, it’s a story about how to overcome obstacles.

Can you imagine climbing a mountain if you were blind? Where would you even begin on your journey?

That’s precisely what Erik Weihenmayer did. He is one of only 150 climbers to conquer the Seven Summits, which includes Mount Everest.

As you consider his story, think about how you can overcome the obstacles in your life.

You Want To Be a Teacher?

Climbing a mountain wasn’t the first obstacle Weihenmayer had to face. He was not born blind, but his sight was taken from him by his early teens by a condition known as retinoschisis.

Blind or not, Weihenmayer was determined not to be limited by his circumstances. His goal was to be a teacher and blindness was not going to stop him.

However, the limiting beliefs of others almost stopped him in his tracks. Many people didn’t believe that a blind man could successfully teach. How would he be able to help his students without being able to see where they needed help? Would he be able to keep a room full of teenagers from erupting into chaos if he couldn’t see their actions?

By Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Could He Succeed?

Happily, in time, a few people believed in Weihenmayer and worked to give him the chance to prove what type of teacher he could be.

The result? Weihenmayer became not only a successful and effective teacher but one of the most beloved educators in the school system.

Another obstacle in his life had been conquered, and Weihenmayer was intent on tackling more. That belief set moved him to conquer not one, but all seven of the summits mentioned earlier.

What Stands In Your Way?

How about you? What is your obstacle? What stands in your way to achieving the life you want to have?

Perhaps, like me, you are living with chronic and/or mental illness. You may be thinking that just surviving each day takes all of the energy you have to give.

I get it. I’ve been there on lots of days and will be there many more. Here’s a typical day for me.

Like, Weihenmayer, though, I have chosen not to give up and am working to overcome my obstacles. You can do the same.

By Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

How Can You Change Things?

One of the biggest keys to success in Weihenmayer’s story is his mindset. No matter what was thrown at him, he never viewed it as an insurmountable wall.

To be honest, I can barely imagine walking to the bathroom without sight. The thought of climbing a mountain while not being able to see would completely terrify me.

Weihenmayer didn’t do it on his own, though. He had a goal he wanted to achieve and wasn’t afraid to ask for the help he needed to get there.

What about you? Who in your life can help you reach your goals? Are you willing to ask for help?

What Creates Success?

Why do some people succeed where others have failed? Often, it is just a matter of continuing on, refusing to quit. Overcoming obstacles requires tenacity.

Would you keep going if you knew that this hurdle was going to be your last?

Everyone faces challenges and difficult situations. That is a painful fact of life. Refusing to quit, though, is what separates success from failure.

When dealing with mental health issues, this may mean seeking out a new treatment or doctor. It could be trying a new medication or combination of drugs.

With other chronic illnesses, it might be learning your limitations or sticking to a healthy diet. The edges of those boundaries are only discovered by seeing what you can do.

By sydney Rae on Unsplash

What Can You Do To Overcome Obstacles?

Obviously, the application here isn’t to go do something beyond your means. Living with a chronic illness is a constant balancing act.

The power to succeed and overcome obstacles is to not focus on what you can’t do. No, but instead, take some time this week to think about what you can do.

Is there someone you can ask for help? Could there be another avenue to success you haven’t considered for fear of trying something new?

What Would Happen if You Tried?

As you think about this topic, do an honest self-evaluation. Have you really tried everything you can to help you reach your goals? Are you willing to turn your obstacles in stepping stones?

Take a piece of paper and write your goal at the top. Then, below it, write three things you can do in the next seven days to get you closer to that goal.

By Tadej Skofic on Unsplash

What Can You Takeaway?

Whatever it is you are working toward, whether it’s weight loss, better health, or a business endeavor, the most important thing is that you don’t stop trying.

What challenges did Erik Weihenmayer face on his journey? You can read his inspiring story in his book, Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Climb Farther than the Eye Can See: My Story. (affiliate link)

It isn’t a story of just deciding to do something and then everything miraculously falling into place. It took a lot of hard work and time for Weihenmayer to achieve his goals, one step at a time.

In conclusion, don’t give up. No matter the challenge, keep looking for a way to overcome it. Never stop trying to make your life better.

Success will come to those who refuse to quit.

Until next time, keep fighting.

* * * * *

Do you struggle to start each day with a positive mindset?

Learn to banish your negative thinking with the free 30 Days of Positivity Email Course. I created this course especially for people battling mental illness, but everyone can benefit. Sign up today!

This story originally appeared on the Speaking Bipolar blog.

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About the Creator

Scott Ninneman

Bipolar for 49 years, chronically ill for 36. The voice behind the Speaking Bipolar blog. Wrestles taxes by day, wrangles words at night. Thinker. TV Addict. Poet. Links:

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