The Obstacle Is The Path

The Obstacle Is The Path

There was once a king that believed his kingdom could be on the decline as a result of the attitude of his people. To prove his theory that his people had lost inspiration, a king had a giant boulder placed on the only road into his city. Then, hidden and perched on a hill, he waited to see what would happen. First, some merchants came upon the rock and said, “Well, this boulder is blocking our path. Let’s turn around and go home. No work today!” And they turned around and left. Next a group of soldiers came upon the boulder. “This rock is blocking our path,” they said. “I guess no one will need our services today”, and they turned around and went home as well. The king watched person after person continue to come upon the rock, see it as an impasse or excuse and turn and go home. That was, until an old man came upon the rock. Instead of becoming discouraged like the others, he got excited by the presence of such a challenge. He first examined the huge boulder and tried to push it with all his might. He realized this would not work and began to think of other solutions. Then the quote from ancient mathematician Archimedes popped into his head, “If you give me a large enough lever and a fulcrum on which to place it, I shall move the world.” The old man was instantly inspired, and found a long wooden pole. He placed the pole under the boulder and using leverage, moved the boulder slightly. He repeated this process until the boulder was completely off the road.With his challenge finished, the inspired man was about to set off down the previously blocked path toward the city, but he noticed a bag lying where the boulder once stood. He looked around, picked up the bag and found inside a large amount of gold and a note. He carefully opened the note and read, “This gold is for you, since you know that great obstacles can lead to bigger opportunities.” The king, happy with the actions of this man, left his hiding place and went back to his castle with hope for his people.

Like many Zen stories, at first, this may not to make sense, but upon deeper reflection it should start to be crystal clear. The previous story was used to remind you that taking the “easy way” is not always the best way. Oftentimes our own areas of weakness are not obstacles, but our biggest opportunities to learn and develop ourselves. You see, all too often we wish that our lives were easier. We dream of hitting the lottery, getting more to do less, or that somehow we can live a life without trouble. I am here to tell you that it is actually the difficulty of life that makes life great! Without the challenges, obstacles, troubles, tragedies, failures, mistakes, problems, dilemmas, conundrums, and even catastrophes, our lives would be less, not more. Once you come to understand this, you realize that the obstacle is the path.

I know what you might be thinking. You might believe that with less problems your life would be easier. Easier? Perhaps. Better? No. I believe that in most cases in life, people don’t really want easier, they want better. They want to have more. As I have stated over and over to the athletes with which I work, “If you want to have more you have to become more!” The only way to get there is by overcoming the obstacles that will be in your way. There is nothing more famous than the athlete that eventually sees an injury to overcome as a blessing or the person that was made stronger mentally by passing through tough times. Embracing this concept will give you the courage to move forward when turmoil inevitably knocks on your door.

The warrior challenge of the week is actually an obstacle in itself. This week’s challenge is to spend some time thinking about the biggest obstacle currently holding you back from what you want. Whether it is a skill you are missing at work, a percentage of body fat you want to reduce, or a relationship that you need to rekindle, you need to pick your main obstacle, attack it and pass it by. Once you have done this, pick out the next thing that stands in your way and attack again. I promise that if you keep this process up for the next year, the skills and traits you would develop would be amazing.

The key is identifying that obstacle and then having the courage to get on the path. The world and whatever you want from it can be yours as long as you are willing to go over, around, under or through enough obstacles. The key question is not what you really want, but how far are you willing to go to get there.


35 Responses

  1. Will Lever

    Great timing for this Martin as the big rock you spoke of just rolled over me. Thanks for the inspiration get up, dust off and see challenges not problems. Cheers!

  2. Steve Zeppegno

    Thanks for inspiring me. That is a great example for people who need to look at things from different perspectives. I hope you don't mind if I share this with my clients on FB.
    "Steve Zeppegno, Trainer".

  3. Thanks!! Really inspiring!! Much needed this morning! I'm an athlete that has had 31 surgeries in the past two and a half years on my leg as a result to a horrible accident. Was told I would never walk again but I'm back to training myself and clients. Some days are harder than others and thanks to you this is a great day!! Thank you! You are awesome!!

  4. Kenny MF D

    Thanks Martin, this is a wake up and kick in the butt much needed to take care of the little things that become so easy to ignore. Better a kick in the butt now, than having it bite me in the ass later!

  5. Martin Rooney

    Thank you right back for the inspiration Amberly. We see our own greatness when we take on great challenges! Keep up the fight!

  6. Bob Lingenberg

    just wanted to tell you my trainer got me hooked on your writing… you are an amazing writer and motivator… keep up the great work and please keep it coming.

  7. Martin, keep them coming. Your making a difference in all our lives. Still moved from your seminar in Toronto and looking forward to your lecture in Rhode Island.

  8. Very inspiring reading. Reflecting upon this weekends TFW course in Copenhagen, I'm truly seeing things in a clearer perspective! Funny how a small snowball becomes an avalanche. After Martin Rooneys seminar in Copenhagen two years ago, I decided to open my own gym. A seemingly endless stream of nay-sayers later, I have my own facility and business is starting to take off. I'm truly greatfull for that little seed of "becoming more" that was planted in my head. The obstacle is truly the path, and I'm looking forward to start implementing and exploring the new ideas from the TFW cert 1 course. Thanks for inspiring me.

  9. Martin Rooney

    You are welcome Allan and see that you are reaping the benefits of taking ACTION!!!
    I look forward to helping you in the next steps to success!

  10. Scott Gunter

    You and I have a similar way of thinking. Too many people focus on the finish line without paying attention to the steps it takes to get there. Its much easier to get discouraged looking at how far you are away from your end goal, but if I did that, I'd never be satisfied as I believe there's always room to grow and progress. Attack each individual obstacle, accomplish it, then use that sense of achievement to fuel your attack of the next step of your journey.

    I recently had someone in the facility I Coach out of who had gone through your TFW cert. and was raving about you as a seminar speaker. I'll definitely make it a point to read your posts more often and attend a seminar. When are you in New Jersey next?

  11. Sura

    I hopped onto the blog today on purpose. I have an athlete over here, just turned 18 two weeks ago and headed off to her first international tour with the hockeyroos in Japan… first time in her career, she has suffered an injury of significance and has been shipped home, not even a week into the trip. It’s not terrible, a bit of meniscus trouble, and some keyhole surgery is meant to fix her up, (thankfully!) but I was hoping to find some good words for her to mull over as to why this is about to be a GOOD experience; why, if this was going to happen, this was a good time for it. etc… of course she is sad and was scared and naturally, at 18, she sees all of it flash before her eyes and its terrifying to be so close to the big show and have that proverbial boulder placed in your path – but as one of my OTHER athletes says: ‘no one makes movies or books about the guy who we all knew would make it big… and never had any hurdles!’ Very true! I digress- Martin, your spin on difficult situations will serve not only as a reminder for myself, but also a new voice for my little hockeyroo to gather some grit from. I know she’ll be greatful to hear it from someone besides just me!! I knew you would have just the message I was looking for! Thanks!