The Obstacles in Our Path are Gifts in Disguise

Posted On November 20, 2015

Once upon a time an Emperor had a gigantic granite stone placed on a forest pathway.  Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove this annoying obstacle.  Some of the Emperor’s wealthiest merchants and tradesmancame by and simply walked around it.  Many vocally blamed the Emperor for not keeping the path clear, but not a single one didanything about getting the stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a sack of potatoes on his back.  Upon approaching the rock, the peasant laid down his burden and tried for a long time to move the stone to the side of the path.  After much grunting, pushing, pulling, twisting and straining, he finally succeeded. As the peasant was picking up his sack of potatoes, he noticed a leather pouch lying in the road where the rock had been. The pouch contained many gold coins and jewels plus a notefrom the Emperorsignifying that the gifts in the pouch were for the person who removed the rock from the pathway. 

The peasant learned what many of us never understand: Every obstacle that one encounters, presents a hidden opportunity to improve our condition. 

As business professionals our wisdom, passions, andattitudes will have a profound effect on our level of achievements.  To follow is a descriptive list (however, not all inclusive) of leadership behaviors all who hold business responsibilities must possess if they desire to accomplish whatever tasks are set before them.  How many do you possess and how strongly do you apply them in the workplace?

Behaviors and the realizations that can be accomplished through them:

  • “Carry Through” analysis.
  • Clarify distresses, problems, and issues
  • Recognize the central root of a problem
  • Gathering of pertinent information
  • Develop and consider courses of actions
  • Propose, put into operation, and evaluate the best course of action


  • Clearly define internal and external customer expectations.
  • Actively listen and understand the concerns, needs, and wants of those providing services and products too.
  • Consistently connecting and verifying to ensure that expectations are being met.  Taking appropriate action when not.


  • Engaging both individuals and teams.
  • Develop a sense of ownership in responsibilities and task by providing clear roadmaps.
  • Expand individual responsibilities by giving assignments to the employees that increase their decision making and problem solving responsibilities within clearly defined limits.
  • Providing open, direct and support avenues of communication while communicating critical information with employees.
  • Providing timely coaching and counseling to all staff personnel on a timely basis.


  • Broaden workplace proficiency, expertise, and talents.
  • Drive and manage worker development through training and education while providing effective instruction, advice, criticism and positive reinforcement.
  • Support team corroboration.
  • Match personal and team goals and objectives with both individual and team developmental activities.
  • Match personal and team goals and objectives with organizational goals and objectives.


  • Monitor progress, measure results; take action by providing quality feedback.
  • Establish procedures for monitoring processes and for measuring results.
  • All business controls are timely, relevant and simple to use and understand.
  • Tweak performance evaluation processes.


  • Power and authority is used properly.
  • Inspire and guide individuals/teams toward achieving identified goals.
  • Establish a non-threatening work environment.
  • Allowing innovative and creative thinking.
  • Gain and build commitment to doing things a new way.
  • Solicit proposals, suggestions, and new ideas.
  • Build rapport and trust.
  • Manage through honesty and reliability.
  • Giving one’s word establishes a bond.
  • Acknowledge others concerns.
  • Show empathy.


  • Exhibit imagination.
  • Generate new initiatives to improve current and future conditions and results.
  • Deal with situation using an assortment of creative solutions.


  • Team organizer, supporter, and contributor.
  • Contributes to the discussions and actions of the group.
  • Responds to the request for information, ideas, and assistance.
  • Active listener.


  • Acknowledges the contributions of others (gives credit where credit is due and rewards openly). 
  • Gives a hand in the resolving of apathy, lack of interest, disagreements, and open conflicts.
  • Helps identify common ground on which all benefit.


  • Looks beyond the present.
  • Demonstrates artistic and visionary leadership.
  • Has a clear vision of future path to take and where it will lead.
  • Sets clear values that will influence day-to-day decisions.
  • Educates others to buy into the vision and to understand its value.
  • Is committed to the task at hand.
  • Sees things as how they will be, not just might or could be.

And remember this about obstacles: It is not a matter of “if” you will encounter them, it’s “when”. Prepare yourself. You can expect them to show up sooner or later in the middle of the road you’re traveling, just like the merchant, tradesman, or peasant mentioned above. The important question is, “What are you going to do about it?”  You can walk around it, complain about it, blame someone else for not dealing with it, or you can take it upon yourself to handle it and move it out of the way. 

Who knows what gift(s) will be revealed by taking such action?

About Writer

Dr. Marc Clark

Dr. Marc Clark is a renowned personality in both Management and Hospitality sectors. He is President & CEO of, Published author, international speaker, with GATE College as a Senior Advisor since 2008. He holds the hospitality designations of CHA, CHRE, CHE, and CHO. (,,