How To Turn Obstacles Into Opportunities

Obstacles aren’t things that get in our way; they’re what carves the path towards our goals.”

Bump, hitch, snag.

We’ve all had them, obstacles that hinder what we want to achieve. Whether it’s a work project, trying to lose weight, quitting a habit like smoking or anything else we want to aspire to or be.

You’ll even find them in your love life.

Most approach obstacles as a hurdle to get over. You need to work harder to continue on your desired direction.

Over the years, I’ve come to believe that obstacles – with a certain perception – can be incredible opportunities if approached correctly.

If you’re working on a project and a team member can’t contribute, maybe that’s the time to flex some new skill muscles to take the slack or perhaps another talented individual you’ve wanted to work with for some time could take their place.

If you’re trying to lose weight but the holidays are approaching, imagine exploring unique and delicious dishes you could try that would not only be a novel treat during a family get-together but healthy for you as well.

If you’re trying to quit smoking and your roommates are like chimneys, is it inconceivable to explore the possibility of moving? Or getting them on the quitting bandwagon and supporting each other? Or making a rule to only smoke outside? Or go for walks/runs when they are smoking inside?


What can a lot of the time be a deal breaker for your goals can also be turned into positive, supportive, actionable and life changing opportunities.



Oil’s Big Fall

I’m going to use the current drop in oil prices as a real life example and show you what I mean.

With the drastic drop in oil prices, the following events occurring is not unreasonable:

  • the oil industry will have to scale back in order to continue production
  • a number of oil industry jobs will be cut
  • unemployment will rise
  • workers with homes who are now unemployed won’t be able to pay for their mortgages*
It's MUCH lower now.

It’s MUCH lower now.

This looks incredibly bad. And it is, unless there is some way to change our perception and approach solving this situation in a proactive way.



Leveraging a Crisis

What other effects does this price drop have on our economy? Other industries?

One industry that will be hugely effected is the airline industry.

Fuel is an enormous cost to airlines. It literally fuels their business, and normally the cost of an airline ticket is proportional to the cost of oil. Oil goes up, ticket prices go up – and vice versa. So naturally most, if not all, airlines ticket prices will start to drop.

But what if an airline chose not to go in that direction? What if they chose to keep their prices where they are?

I’m not suggesting they pocket the money – they would be the most expensive airline around and if nothing changes in their services that won’t be well received. But what if instead they put that extra revenue towards something that bolstered their service, and at the same time inadvertently helped to soften the blow to our economy from the oil industry?

The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”
Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage





What if they put those revenues towards update their technology, refresh and retrain their staff, increase maintenance intervals, upgrade their planes or hiring more supportive staff positions?

Remember the unemployed oil worker with the mortgage he can’t pay? I bet he has some time to spare…

Doing any or all of these things would increase the value of their services and public opinion would allow for their higher ticket costs. The increased hiring would also make a smooth transfer of trained, hard-working individuals from one industry to another.

And when oil rises again(and it is most likely going to), they can be the ONLY airline to tell the public that they won’t raise theirs.

This is called playing the long game, it’s based on perception, leveraging and refusing to give in to the urge of instant gratification. It’s also the smart way of doing, well, anything.

Now what happens if EVERY airline did this? What if every fuel-dependent business did this? Trucking, boats/ferries, public transit, etc? What an incredible effect it could have on a large spectrum of industries across our economy.


How Green Energy Benefits From Cheap Gas


I know the team at Scotian Windfields personally and they are all about community, energy security and a sustainable future.

I know the team at Scotian Windfields personally and they are all about community, energy security and a sustainable future.

I’m not blind to the effect that this oil price drop will have on green energy.

I’ve heard people argue that when oil was high people would conserve, which both made green energy more attractive and helped the environment. But now they say that people can start using oil and gas more casually. This will not only turn interest away from green energy but the environment will start to take a beating.

I choose to look at this situation as an incredible opportunity for green energy.

Yes, oil prices have dropped and people will use oil and gas more liberally, but because of the oil industry’s need to scale back it’s infrastructure, it is not the best nor the most stable place to invest in right now.

The oil industry has taken a large hit; it’s weak, hurting and bleeding out. It needs time to stabilize, heal and recover.

The alternative(yes, that is a pun), green energy has an extraordinary opportunity to position itself as a reliable solution and prospering investment to the current economic/employment crisis.

Green energy can draw the attention of investors and government funding to bolster themselves while oil is on the mend. Like the airlines, they can pick up the slack by creating jobs, offering training and upgrading technology.  Build new initiatives, integrate them into the surrounding communities, eliminate our dependency on non-renewable resources.

By the time the oil industry rights itself, the green movement will be a real force to reckon with.

But only if it acts NOW.


 How Am I Wrong?

So don’t get hung up on the drama that obstacles immediately instill in you when they appear. Take a breath, sit back and say to yourself,”How is this going to work FOR me? How can I leverage this? What direction does this take me?”

They aren’t bumps, hitches or snags to your plans. Obstacles aren’t things that get in our way; they’re what carves the path towards our goals.

Don’t agree with me? Tell me why! I’d love to hear some other opinions and I’d love to hear some examples of how you’ve taken an obstacle and leveraged it into an opportunity.

Talk soon,


*the recent drop in interest rates will have little to no effect on this since a person without a paying job can’t pay a mortgage regardless of the interest.