Overcoming Adversity: How to Avoid Roadblocks to Success

How we react when in a storm is always a choice. Nothing will change until we learn how to break out, take action, and make better choices when overcoming adversity. In a previous blog post, we discussed 3 Principles for Overcoming Adversity. Today, I’d like to expand on this crucial topic, pointing out three roadblocks that may severely hinder your success.



Roadblock 1: Preconceived Limitations

I first learned about the Unknown Distance from Mark Divine, and I have heard author and veteran Sean Parnell talk about it since, but I think it’s a great metaphor for everything we’re trying to accomplish. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about military training, running, making money, or a whole host of other issues; whether we know it or not, we all have a preconceived set of limitations in our heads.

“I’ve only gone this far in the past, so it will be difficult for me to get much further.”

Thoughts like these create self-imposed limitations, blocking us from reaching our goals. And since that’s the story we tell ourselves subconsciously, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we rarely get further because we don’t believe we can. In reality, it’s not because we can’t do it; it’s because our minds think we can’t!

So many of the challenges we face come down to perception and what we perceive to be our limitations. So much of success and achievement hinges on whether we get our minds working for us or against us. The choice is yours. Think that you’re capable of more… and you are!


Roadblock 2: Falling Victim to The “Placebo Effect”

In May 2021, I was training for an ultramarathon, which is traditionally any race longer than a marathon. This particular race was 30 miles in Texas. During a trip to the doctor for a physical the week before the race, she asked me, “Are you feeling tired?” I had to think about it, but no, I wasn’t.

I had a slight tear in my hamstring but didn’t feel tired. That’s when she told me that I was anemic, which is basically an iron deficiency. She then said, “If you’ve been training up to this point and haven’t felt fatigued, you should be fine,” but it was too late. The damage had been done because the seed had been planted.

Guess what happened when I went back to training? I started to feel fatigued and couldn’t get the idea out of my head that anemia was slowing me down. In my journal entries for the week leading up to the ultramarathon, I talked about how I was worried about the event because I felt lethargic… and then something hit me.

This was all in my head! It was the placebo effect! I didn’t feel lethargic or think about being tired until the doctor asked me about it. I was perfectly fine. Luckily, I was able to get that thought out of my head before the race, but this roadblock was certainly frustrating to deal with.

I learned a valuable lesson from experiencing the placebo effect. When overcoming adversity or rising to meet a challenge, it’s crucial to deal with thoughts that are put into your head. Catch yourself before these “planted” thoughts overcome you and make you feel like you can’t achieve your goal.

Expert tip: Want more information about hardening your mindset, which helps prepare you for when discouraging thoughts creep in? Check out: Mental Toughness: 8 Ways to Harden Your Mind.


Roadblock 3: Fear of Failure (or Success)

Many people fear failure and even use this fear as an excuse to remain stagnant in their lives. They think, “If I don’t start, I can’t fail.” However, failing to start is still failing.

Did you know many incredible success stories began with failure? One of the most notable stories is that of Henry Ford – he filed for bankruptcy, not one time, but twice, before successfully forming Ford Motor Company in 1903. But his perseverance and dedication to his craft helped him ultimately secure a net worth of $200 billion (in today’s money). Talk about overcoming adversity and finding success!

If this story tells us anything, it’s that failure never has to define you. If you experience failure, learn from that experience, get up, and move forward stronger than before.

On the flip side, some people fear success, which sounds counterintuitive. But it’s true! Individuals with big goals often fear how their lives might change once they achieve them. So, to stay in their comfort zone, they back off, procrastinate, or make excuses, which causes them to be their own catalyst for failure.

If you have a fear of success, ask yourself these questions:

  • What makes me uncomfortable about success in this particular area?
  • What is keeping me from chasing this goal?
  • What’s the worst thing that could happen if I achieve this goal?

Once you have identified your fear, whether of failure or success, spend 10-15 minutes each day journaling about how these feelings affect your ability to achieve the best version of yourself. This practice will help to reframe your outlook and shift your mindset, preparing you to pursue the success you deserve!


Final Thoughts

Are you letting preconceived limitations, the “placebo effect,” or fears of failure or success hinder you from overcoming adversity and reaching your goals? Hardening your mindset and going toe-to-toe with negative thoughts is essential to overcoming adversity.

My book, Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity, contains a lifetime of stories and lessons that have changed how I face life’s storms. While this book is not a quick-fix solution, I explore and share integral techniques for handling whatever life throws at you.

Want to sample the book before purchasing it? Click here to get the following:

✓ The first 33 pages of Thriving in the Storm

✓ Thrive Daily Journal

✓ Weekly transformation tips and tricks!