Overcoming Obstacles in Life

Overcoming Obstacles in Life

f you are looking for ways to overcome obstacles in life and business, then look no further than your local playground. Children often give us our best examples of determination, leadership, teamwork and celebrating success.

Unfortunately over the years, we lose our natural inclination to have fun, dream big, never give up and make new friends as we had as children. I will attempt to explore these key skill learned in the playground to help you find fun again.

During a Saturday afternoon bike ride with the family, we stopped so our six year old son could play on the brand new playground. I guess he still had energy to burn while mom and I tried to catch our breath before the ride home. This playground had a unique set of monkey-bars that our son was determined to conquer. After several attempts of only making it to the second ring, another kid shows up to show off that he could do it with ease. This initially devastated my son, so we did what any loving parent would do, we told him we would come back another day so he could try it again. Our son had other plans.


He continued to try his very best to make it all the way across. Though his arms were weak and his hands were hurting, he kept trying with passion and determination. Whenever he fell, he would jump right up, dust himself off and jump back up on the platform to try again.

How often do we give up on a task that seems to difficult to achieve? If we fail the first twenty times, do we have the same intensity when we go for try number twenty-one? Are we able to dust ourselves off and keep trying?

Letting Go to Move On

No matter how many times he fell, he got right back up and started over determined to finish. He had no problem letting go of one ring, swinging forward and reaching for the next ring. His focus was always on the next ring and he only looked back when he had to start over.

Why do we constantly look back over our past and fear letting go to move on? Why can’t we focus on what is ahead of us and keep ourselves mentally prepared? Considers this, it is very difficult to land a new job if you are not able to leave behind the one you left or the promotion you did not get.

Leadership and Teamwork

Then I witnessed true leadership from my son and the kid who by now had gone through the obstacle multiple times. They began to share ideas and strategies to get across. They talked about what went wrong and how to avoid doing it again. But most importantly they applauded each other and encouraged each other to get across.

Imagine a workplace, church, school or any other organization where the people that were the experts actually shared their knowledge and experience freely with everyone on the team instead of reserving institutional knowledge for fear of being replaced or overshadowed by their peers. Would we create more successful organizations and high performing teams? Could this be our competitive advantage?

Celebrate Success

The moment my son’s toe touched the other side after finally making it all the way across, my wife and I yelled and screamed as if he had just won the championship. This made his face light up with the biggest and brightest smile, almost like the one we get Christmas morning. He celebrated with us and talked about how awesome it was to finally go all the way across. Even the other kids and parents applauded and laughed at how crazy we were celebrating.

Interestingly, the celebration was short lived. While I was giving high fives to my wife, he was back up on the bars determined to go across again. The look in his eyes was like he was king of the playground and totally unstoppable. He made it across again and again although he fell a couple times. We continued to celebrate each time across just as we did the first time he made it.

Do we wildly celebrate the success of others on our team and in our family? What if you and your team made a huge deal the next time you closed an account or saved a customer? Would this be the motivation needed to get back up, grab the bar and face your obstacles again?

There are so many lessons to be learned on the playground if you are truly open to seeing them. Next time you are faced with a challenge, put on your superhero cape and go to battle with the determination of a six year old.

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