Finding Opportunity in the Obstacle

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn

With the overwhelming amount of media, memes, and information floating around the internet, it’s hard to focus on anything but COVID-19 and toilet paper at the moment. 

Every single person and business has been and will continue to be impacted by this crisis. At the extreme, people are dying and healthcare providers are forced to choose who gets to live because there isn’t enough medical equipment for all of those infected. 

Businesses will take a big hit, weddings will be postponed, trips will be canceled, over 21 million children across the country will be out of school, and approximately 30 million parents will be pushed to their limits and, perhaps, wonder why they had children in the first place!

In a matter of four short months, COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it.

So, what now? 

In the wise words of Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle is the Way, “The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

Each of us is facing our own obstacle. 

How might we transform that obstacle into an opportunity – to grow, to learn, to improve our condition? 

What will we need to THRIVE in our new world amidst social distancing and a declining economy? A healthy body and mind, new and sharpened skills, connection, focus, empathy, and alcohol (wine per capita undoubtedly increases during a quarantine)! 

So, how do you find the opportunity in this obstacle?

You might say, “That’s easier said than done!” And you would be right! 

For many of us, anxiety and overwhelm about what lies ahead is almost paralyzing. It’s hard to do anything other than obsess over the news and track the growing number of cases in our own and our families’ communities. 

At times like these, I go back to what I know about human behavior. 

A powerful way to unlock new pathways for ACTION, in ourselves and in others, is ASKING QUESTIONS and LISTENING.

When we lead sessions on Pose the Right Questions, we organize questions into 5 buckets based on the goal that question type achieves. The goal of an Action Question is (yep – you guessed it) to help another person make progress in their lives by taking action in the face of fear, uncertainty, complacency, and a mountain of barriers. 

So, my question to you during this time of uncertainty and fear is:

What’s the ONE thing YOU can do today to help your business, employees, customers, or loved ones make progress RIGHT NOW? 

Perhaps you could set up an in-home office for your partner, use the extra time with your kids to do something together that you never have time to do, create a new health habit, experiment with virtual practice sessions with your team, or set a team goal to create 100 new questions to uncover customer business objectives during sales meetings. 

Whatever it is, do it with fervor! 

At Habits at Work, we’re focused on continuing to lead with empathy and using our skills and expertise to serve the CURRENT and, most certainly, the NEW needs of our clients and community.

What are the current and new needs of our customers and community? 

  • Connection and relationship building

  • Regular, human-centered communication

  • Clear business goals and accountability 

  • New virtual leadership, sales and customer success skills 

  • Positivity and support

So, what’s the one thing our team is doing right now to help our customers make progress? Here is what we came up with: 

  • We will build new programs and create new content that will support leading, selling and servicing customers virtually (e.g., Present Yourself Virtually). 

  • We will adjust the standard cadence of our virtual masterclass workshops from monthly to weekly to give our clients the opportunity to take advantage of a few extra hours each week that they would have most certainly not had if not for the work-from-home mandate and put those hours toward developing a new skill and habit. 

  • A weekly virtual session satisfies the need for social connection, regular communication, new skill development, and indeed all of the needs listed above. 

  • As an added bonus, by offering regular “virtual getaways” (yes, virtual workshops are the new spring holiday), we’re doing our part to fight divorce and separation rates of couples living in tiny city apartments during this time of confinement. 

For me, personally? 

I’ve secured 30 minutes a day on a colleague’s calendar to practice and get feedback on the delivery of four new customer success or failure stories to add to my quiver of arrows during sales opportunities in exchange for 30 minutes of coaching from me. Thirty minutes would have been hard to come by if not for social distancing.

I’m also challenging my sister to improve the length in which we can hold a handstand over the course of the next month. Day 1, 0.5 seconds. I can only go up from there.

“In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given. And the only way you’ll do something spectacular is by using it all to your advantage.” – Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle is the Way.

How might you use this obstacle to your advantage to do something SPECTACULAR?

To bring virtual training and habit activation to your team, visit

Visit to learn more about the author of this article. 

Tia Pappas

Co-Founder, Head of Sales

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