If you’ve ever driven in the northeast of the United States, you know how frequent potholes can be. Construction workers have a hard time keeping up with minor cracks and holes in the road because of the freezing temperatures. Water gets into these crevices, freezes, expands, and creates larger and larger holes in the road. Though not quite as large, there are potholes on the roads of every region in the U.S. When you’re driving in an unfamiliar area, you have to keep your eye out for these potholes. If you don’t maneuver around them correctly, you can really damage your vehicle. So, too, is the case when we encounter potholes on our paved road towards growth and our genuine, actual selves. I highly doubt you’ve ever gotten off a road because the potholes were too much to handle, and I’m hopeful that you’ll stay the course on your own road, too.
As humans, we are bound to make mistakes. Perfection is simply impossible, but mistakes can be an okay thing if we handle them correctly. Making a mistake, or creating a pothole, isn’t the end of the road. These potholes allow us to really analyze our road and consider some important questions. Is this road the right one? Is my plan a sound idea? Does it need some tweaking? What other roads can lead me to my destination? Should I detour? These are all valid questions to consider when a pothole appears. Just because we alter our routes doesn’t mean our success is disqualified.
Unfortunately, we aren’t our only enemy. As detrimental as that horribly wrong little voice in our heads can be, we may hear negativity from those around us, too. Our family and friends are often the source of misleading thoughts. You’ve set out to climb that ladder (link post here), and you are capable of getting yourself there. Tap into those people on rungs higher than you, and seek influence from them instead of from those on the rungs beneath you. Remember that misery loves company, and you are probably leaving some people behind on this road. That’s okay, and it often needs to be done, but you have to anticipate that others will seek any opportunity they can to discourage you from driving further down your road. It isn’t comfortable for others when your roads begin to split from theirs, and they’ll try to keep you on their road using any tactics they can. You have to close your mind off to the negative input of others.
Once you’ve really thought through your plan and decided that it’s a good idea, you need to figure out how to stay the course after you’ve made a mistake. Giving up would be the easy solution, but it’s obviously not the best. If your destination is worth reaching, and your current route is the one you think you should take, you have to figure out how to keep at it. Don’t allow doubt to creep into your mind. It takes no effort to think, “Who did I think I was to even attempt this lofty goal?” Instead, challenge yourself to negate those thoughts with positive ones. Throw it out the window. Try telling yourself something like, “Who am I to think I can’t do this? I can make this happen!” You might feel a little cheesy at first, but it will get easier with time. Before too long, you’ll find yourself skipping over the negative thoughts and giving yourself the positive reinforcement you need whenever a pothole arises.
Whether we make a mistake, or something else presents itself in our path, potholes are bound to happen. Some of us have an easier time working through our own mistakes but feel totally out of control when something we didn’t cause arises. It’s never comfortable to feel out of control. However, we have to let go of things that are holding us back if we want to continue down our road. Often, we get hung up on things we couldn’t have even prevented. How silly it is to get stuck on something we can’t control.
If we can learn to cope with the unexpected, our lives will be much more fulfilled and peaceful. Certainly you’ve heard the common phrase, “Grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Sometimes, we just have to shrug our shoulders, say, “okay,” and let things take their course. Doing so doesn’t mean we lose sight of our own path. Rather, it means that we are confident in our course and our ability to continue traveling down it. If we can make meaning out of these potholes, they will serve as an aid instead of a hindrance on our road trip. Making meaning may mean using these potholes as a learning experience or seeing them as a blessing in disguise. Maybe your potholes have been thrown there to help you find a new, better road to travel. The key to figuring it all out is knowing yourself and being confident in your decision-making.
Influential people throughout history have encountered their own potholes. Thomas Edison failed hundreds of times before he made the light bulb. Personally, I’m glad he kept pushing forward on his road. I like being able to see by more than just candlelight and gas lamps. Steve Jobs was turned down by other companies before his success with Apple. Yet again, I’m thankful for his perseverance. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, but continued on to build a hugely successful career with a loyal following. Although these people represent financial gain, they all contributed to the world in other, more valuable ways.
Without potholes in the road, we cannot hope to become achieve anything more than small-scale, simple successes. Big wins don’t come without a pothole or two in the road.