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How to overcome obstacles and succeed in life

Last updated on: October 18, 2011 11:48 IST

How to overcome obstacles and succeed in life

Prakash Iyer

It doesn't help to worry about things you cannot change. Focus instead on what you can change.

Imagine this. You've been preparing for an entrance exam. You know getting into that premier institute could make your life. Your parents have been praying for this day, hoping you get admission. And then when the entrance results are out, you find you haven't made it. What do you do?

Do you say "Oh, this is terrible. I am doomed!"? Do you worry about it for a long time, and blame your luck and the circumstances that conspired to keep you out? Or do you say, "Wow, this is good!" and move on?

What you say could actually make a difference to the rest of your life. It is a good idea to believe that whatever happens, happens for good. That doesn't change your past, but it can dramatically alter your future. It doesn't help to worry about things you cannot change. Focus instead on what you can change.

When you get caught up in looking back at your misfortune, you start looking for someone else to blame. And rather than working on picking up the pieces and building a new future, you start looking for excuses. When one door shuts, there is no point in banging your head against it. Look out instead for other doors that may be opening up. Next time you find yourself in that situation, pause, take a deep breath, and smile. And remind yourself about this story of an African king and his dear friend.

The king's friend was a cheerful person, very optimistic. Whenever something happened -- good or bad -- the friend would remark, "This is good!" They would often go on hunting expeditions, and the friend would help prepare the rifles for the king. One day, the friend made a mistake with one of the guns. When the king took that gun and pulled the trigger, his thumb got blown off.

Seeing what happened, the friend remarked, "This is good!" That infuriated the king and landed his friend in jail.

A few years hence, another hunting expedition took the king to a place, inhabited by cannibals. The cannibals caught him and began celebrating their upcoming feast. The king's hands were tied and he was being washed to be put into a large earthen pot that was being readied for cooking. Just then, someone noticed that the king had no thumb. As it happened, these cannibals were a superstitious lot. They never ate anyone who was less than whole. So the king was set free.

As he headed back to his palace, the king recalled the incident when he had lost his thumb. He realised his dear friend was right in saying, "This is good!" Losing a thumb that day had actually saved his life. He quickly ordered his friend to be set free.

He narrated to his friend what had happened and apologised. "I shouldn't have put you in prison," said the king. "That was bad!"

"No, no. This is good!" said the friend. "What do you mean," asked the King. "How could sending you to jail have been good?"

"Don't you see?" said the friend, "If I had not been in jail, I would have been out with you. And the cannibals would then have killed and eaten me!"

So, next time you find things are not going your way, think of the king's thumb.

And whatever happens, just say, "This is good!" Your world will be a better place. None of us can control external events. What happens can be good or bad. What you can control is your response, your feelings. You can choose to feel good or you can choose to feel bad.

The choice is yours.

When you moan and say this is bad, the mind gets conditioned to look for difficulty in opportunity. And when you say this is good, the mind looks for opportunity in difficulty. And therein lies the difference between winners and losers.

Just say 'this is good'. It's a good mantra to live by.

Prakash Iyer is MD, Kimberly-Clark Lever and Executive Coach. For more inspiring life lessons, read Mr Iyer's new book The Habit of Winning.

Photographs: Careers360

Careers360 is a complete education and career magazine offering campus and course reviews, career features, scholarships, expert advisories, entrance exam preparation & solved papers, admission alerts and more.