I’m becoming used to blogging with this obstacle. This “obstacle” is an elderly cat. She’s a bit of a dame, 19 years old and too accustomed to her soft food to do anything about the nest of rats that have taken up residence in my roof. She used to be a proud huntress, but now seems to have entered that horrible stage of old age called learnt helplessness.
The moment I sit down to write, she wedges herself between the computer screen and I. Immovable object. Irritation. Enter all manner of attempts at removing the object.
I’ve tried the lot. Nice and not nice. Stroke her a while and then gently place on the floor. She responds with the evil cat look and then replaces herself in the twenty centimeters between me and the keyboard. Following her lead I give her bad, bad vibes. She responds by purring. I have tried to beg, plead threaten. None of it works. She wants to be in that space.
Yes, I can put her outside, but she has a loud voice and pays no heed to the fact that the complaints department is closed. Few things are worse than the sound of an indignant cat.
Sometimes the only way I can continue to work is to hug her firmly in my left arm while typing with the right. This satisfies her. It slows down my already slow typing, but it allows me to continue.
This has led me to think about obstacles. Here are some ideas about dealing with some of your obstacles – both at home and in the workplace.
Is it real?
Sometimes ignoring an obstacle can miraculously cause it to melt away. Depends on the obstacle. Sometimes, just sometimes, it goes away by itself. Investing too much energy into something that will go away by itself, is wasteful time spending. As Peter Drucker suggests, you may never actually catch up on everything that needs to be done. If that is true, it’s important to know which problems to attend to and which to ignore.
The obstacle is just doing what its doing
It is as it is. Pontificating about how it “should be” ties all your energy into the problem. Acceptance always works. By acceptance I don’t mean saying that the obstacle or problem is OK. But, if I am putting all my energy into complaining or whining about the obstacle, I have no energy left to creatively solve it.
Love it – I mean it!
How would I approach my difficulties if I loved them? We know that there is a lesson in every problem. Most people will admit that the times of their greatest growth were also the times when they faced the greatest challenges. We admire those who have overcome obstacles. They have a light that shines through. Hold it tight – Obstacles, like our enemies make us stronger.
Work around it
Don’t occupy all your attention on the obstacle. Keep your eye on the outcomes. Remain flexible. External changes sometimes require a change on your part. I now type pretty well with one hand.
Is this just another excuse to procrastinate?
If you are a procrastinator, you might find this a bit hard on the ear. But, sometimes we will use all kinds of minute obstacles as excuses for not getting on and doing the task at hand. If you recognize this in yourself, take some questions into your thinking time. What is so terrifying about getting this task completed? What would I need to face next, and why is dealing with an obstacle preferable to that?
Sometimes you need to pay attention to the obstacle before anything else. Know when that is. Sometimes you need to work around it, even if your capacity is diminished. But don’t underestimate the value of taking a break. Take that time out to reflect. Sometimes the problem is a sign that we need to get out of our perpetual doing, and simply take a moment to be, to watch, to witness.
Finding the creative solution
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. So much has been written and spoken about creativity in the workplace and in our lives. At times the meaning of this for me has been to pick up my laptop and go work in a coffee shop. Simply moving myself gives me a new way of looking.
What do I need to learn from this obstacle?
Well, what the heck can I learn from this old lady on my lap? Well, once I get past the ridiculousness of the notion, I realise she has a lot to teach me personally. There is a lesson about being dependent and trusting that someone will take care of my next meal. And then, a valuable lesson that there is always time for a cuddle. There is enough time to lie in the sun. Making a lot of noise to get what you want can work very well. Be willing to speak up! And, of course that certain amount of stubborn hard headedness gets you what you want.