Have you encountered roadblocks or obstacles in your life? We all do from time to time. Fear, lack of experience, lack of motivation, and opposition from others are all roadblocks that keep us from achieving the things we want to accomplish in our lives. It is essential to understand how to confront and overcome those blocks.

Sometimes the obstacle is something external. We might be rejected for a position based on someone else’s estimation of our abilities. We might lose out on an opportunity due to simple numbers – too many people applying for the same position. I have a friend who is trying to work in the US but there are more applicants for the necessary visa than the number of visas available. Fortunately, he was accepted for a master’s program so he could remain here during that time and try again for the work visa lottery after his degree.

Sometimes there is information that can help us overcome some obstacles. We may find that more education or experience will help us obtain a position and we can find resources to obtain the required education or experience. We might discover a friend who can put in a good word for us. And maybe the key is persistence – multiple tries may result in an ultimate victory.

But sometimes the biggest obstacle is ourselves. Fear of failure or fear of success may sabotage our efforts. Doubt can dissuade us from trying – we may sell ourselves short. One thing that has helped me has been realizing “the answer is always ‘no’ unless you ask”. We have a tendency to talk ourselves out of trying – often to soften the blow of an expected rejection. Sometimes we fail to see that the obstacle is merely a detour. A detour does not mean you can’t get to your destination. It just means you must travel a different route to get there.

A well-worn phrase, coined by Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor, is “when one door closes, another one opens”. And he added that “we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us”. Or as another phrase puts it “when God closes a door, he opens a window”. We have to be looking for the opportunity. Sometimes we are so focused, so logical, that we fail to factor in the unexpected. As my mother often said, when looking for something that is lost, when you have looked in all the usual places start looking in the unusual places. Don’t confine your search to the areas where it should be or could be, expand your search to the locations where it shouldn’t be. And oftentimes that is exactly where it will be.

So in all your endeavors be persistent, observant, and creative. Use obstacles as bouncers to play off of to propel yourself to success – much like a hurdler leaps over the hurdles to get to the finish line.