How to view objections and blocks as advantages

[This post is part of a series on internal objections and blocks and how to overcome them. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Yesterday introduced obstacles and blocks as inevitable parts of leadership and personal development. It also suggested you can see them as advantages, or at least solving them as advantages.
How do you train yourself to see problems as advantages?
That’s like the solution to all your problems, right? Once problems become fun, or at least rewarding growth opportunities, nothing holds you back from taking on whatever challenges come your way. Most people wouldn’t believe some of my current projects. But Submedia’s success — building quarter-mile displays in subway tunnels around the world, still going strong after sixteen years — taught me I can overcome challenges.
There’s an art to it that the following series of posts will give examples for, but I’ve found the best way to reframe obstacles and blocks into challenges that motivate you is to apply my favorite adage

Don’t look for blame but take responsibility for making things better to the extent you can.

If you’ll indulge me some oversimplifications, I’ll give some too-short examples that I’ll flesh out in upcoming posts. If they don’t make sense now, they will after those posts and you’ll have them all in one place.

  • Don’t have the money someone else does and think you can’t do it? Make earning it part of the solution. Get someone to invest if they benefit too.
  • Don’t have the connections your project needs? Meet the people you need.
  • Don’t know how to meet people the project needs? Learn the social skills to meet them.
  • Don’t have time for your new project? Learn your priorities. If you value other things more, do them and drop the new project. If you value the new project more, drop the old things.
  • Don’t like the work you need to do to make it happen? Learn to love the work. If anyone anywhere learned to love it, you can too.
  • Don’t know how to do it? Learn. Find role models.
  • Someone is holding you back somehow? Don’t look for blame but take responsibility for making things better to the extent you can.
  • Something internal is holding you back? Don’t look for blame but take responsibility for making things better to the extent you can.

Have I oversimplified? Yes.
Have I illustrated an attitude that applies across many types of obstacles by skimping the details? I think so.
Experience will teach you how to apply the principle to specific cases. Experience will lead you, or at least it led me, to see objections and blocks not as impediments but guides for how to proceed best and recognize the importance of my project. I find this applies to leading others as well as leading oneself.


Recall yesterday’s main points about objections and blocks:

  1. They are inevitable in leadership and personal development. Learn to anticipate them. Learn to look forward to them.
  2. They signal you are doing something significant and that you care.
  3. They indicate it’s time to start solving problems.

The three main principles about them

  1. An objection states an unmet need.
  2. Stating an objection indicates interest.
  3. Stating an objection indicates motivation.

The general strategy is where I apply Don’t look for blame but take responsibility for making things better to the extent you can, especially in step 2.

  1. Understand the apparent problem.
  2. Figure out how to solve it or reframe it to something solvable (or opportunity, if possible).
  3. See how in the new perspective it’s either an advantage or how solving it will make it one.

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