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When your challenges become your stepping Stones

October 01, 2017

Ever heard of the quote, Not all classrooms have walls.Not sure who said this but I guess they must have learned a lot of things from non-classroom like environments for them to have reached this conclusion. Besides, they were very right in saying so. Why? Because I had a first hand experience of this I would like to share with you.

Last Sunday while in church I had a non-classroom like lesson. But hold up; the moment I mention church I know someone is probably thinking I’m about to preach the message that was preached by our Pastor on Sunday. No. That’s not my intention. Infact, the lesson I want to share with you was taught to me by a toddler. I’m not even sure she’s reached two years yet.

There’s this little cute girl in church who always melts my heart when I see her. She melts my heart so much that she makes me want to have a little girl of my own. Anyway, I digress. She has just started to walk and so her steps are shaky and unsure. So on Sunday her dad (who is an usher in church) was sitting a few seats away from where she was; he was near the door so he could see people coming in to usher them to their seats. As the little girl was exercising her legs, she happened to turn and saw her dad. Immediately, and with a gleeful look on her face she turned around and made a dash for her dad.

While all this was happening, there was someone else who was watching; another usher who was sitting on the opposite isle to her dad. When she saw the girl coming, she stretched her hand to stop her. I thought the girl would be deterred by the hand but instead what she did left me surprised. She came running to the outstretched hand that was supposed to barricade her and tried to push it aside. Of course the lady usher was not going to let her hurt herself and so when she saw the determination on the girl’s face, she (the usher) had no choice but to relax her hand to let the girl pass. The part that jazzed me is that when the usher relaxed her hand, instead of pushing the hand away, the girl decided to use it for support until she safely got to where the dad was! Smart girl she is.

Lesson learned: What was initially set out to be a barrier for her ended up being her support in achieving her little goal. How profound!

Friends there are many situations in life that will arise and present themselves as obstacles to us on our paths to our destiny. However not all those so called obstacles are actually obstacles, instead, they are blessings disguised as obstacles. The problem is that most of us are so much in a rush that we don’t take the time to look at all sides of the situation to determine whether or not there is more to the obstacle than meets the eye.

Some of those obstacles could be loss of a job, or closure of a business. Many people who have gone through such forget about the possibility of getting something better and they end up being discouraged and disappointed to the point of being depressed. Sometimes losing a job is a blessing in disguise. Sometimes losing a business idea is also another blessing in disguise. Sometimes failing in one thing can open up a door for the discovery of another thing.

For instance,  did you know that potato chips (or crisps as we call them on this side of the divide) were actually meant as an insult to an annoying customer? This customer walked into a hotel where a chef called George Crum was the main chef. The cranky guest complained about Crum's fried potatoes saying they were too thick, too soggy and too bland. The customer demanded a new batch.

Crum did not take this well. He decided to play a trick on the diner. The chef sliced a potato paper-thin, fried it until a fork could shatter the thing, and then purposefully over-salted his new creation. “The persnickety guest will hate this”, Crum thought. But alas, the plan backfired!  The guy loved it so much that he ordered a second serving! Word of this new snack spread quickly. "Saratoga Chips" became a hit across England and Crum went on to open his own restaurant.

Today, that accidental invention has ballooned into a massive snack industry. Potato chips are now found in our supermarkets with different kinds of flavor on them.

What was meant to be a negative thing ended up being a positive thing for both the customer and the service provider (the chef). What negative things are going on in your life today? What obstacles seem to be stopping you from achieving your goals in life? Could it be that you need to look at them from a different angle then you will realize that they are a blessing in disguise?

Another example is the donkey who fell in a well. You must have read that one too, but for purposes of reiterating my message today, please allow me to share it again.

One day a farmer´s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn´t worth it to retrieve the donkey. 

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone´s amazement, he quieted down. 

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer´s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. 

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off. 

Moral of the story? Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt, especially when you are down in a well. The trick to getting out of the well, is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step upward! 

Not every obstacle is geared to put you down. Some are a blessing in disguise. To the farmer, the donkey falling in the hole was a blessing in disguise because he finally got to cover up the well, something he said needed to have been done. To the donkey, the dirt that was being shoveled on him was meant to bury him but instead, he realized he could turn the situation into his favor, and he did.

What issues are you going through in your life currently? What obstacles are you facing currently? Could it be that you failed an exam and have to resit it? Look at that as an opportunity to internalize the subject even better. Who knows, you might even make some money helping other students on that same subject.

Could it be that you just went through a divorce from a bad marriage, or you just went through a breakup from a non-progressive relationship? Be grateful that the breakup happened despite everything. Why? Because regardless of what you’ve lost in terms of time and resources, you have an opportunity to live life on your own terms now.

The most important thing is to never give up when situations of this nature arise. If you refuse to give up, your mind will be transformed into seeing possibilities where you initially you only saw impossibilities.

Like the little girl from church did, use your challenges to deliver you to your destination (goals).

Be ignited. Be inspired. Be influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.


PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 1st of October, 2017, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words". 



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