There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them. – Ralph Marston
The essential ingredient you need to make a story work is to give your hero an obstacle to overcome – something that they can beat.
That’s the essence of conflict – put your characters in a difficult situation, make it so it beats them down and then show how they fight back and emerge victorious.
Stories are about triumph, about victory, about winning.
They are not about real life.
In real life the detective does not pick on a collection of tiny clues and figure out the entire life story of a person.
In real life a teacher does not walk into a deprived school and turn the lives of all the children there around.
In real life getting that huge promotion doesn’t hinge on you getting that lucrative contract signed against all the odds.
Real life is about finding the easiest way to move onto the next thing – move through the day and get ready for the next one.
If you want to be happy – to create a life that is low-stress, what you have to learn is the art of getting around problems.
It is far better to notice problems when they are some distance away and take steps to avoid them.
In much of life the image to keep in mind is that of water.
Water flows downhill – it goes the way it’s easiest to go, the way gravity tells it to go.
And there are always obstacles in the way, sometimes big ones, sometimes mountains.
When this happens there are two main choices.
The first is to go around the mountain – as long as you have gravity on your side you can keep moving.
Find a way that’s easier than climbing the mountain.
It’s the same in business – go around problems whenever you can rather than fighting them.
Handle objections before they turn up.
Train staff before they have a chance to make silly mistakes.
Don’t put your money into projects you don’t understand.
If you stick to the easy path you will rarely put a foot wrong.
But, the romantic side of you screams, you’ll never achieve greatness, you’ll never create the next Amazon or Google.
Google’s big idea is pretty simple – peer review is the basis of getting you good information.
Amazon’s big idea is pretty simple – make online shopping frictionless.
Now, those founders didn’t get there with gigantic, heroic leaps.
They had the right background, were in the right place with the right idea and executed it as best they could and survived and grew to the point where they are now.
The fact is that you are where you are right now – not where those founders were then or are now.
And the only thing for you to consider is which way is the easiest for you to keep moving.
Standing still is the problem – becoming stagnant, building up behind a dam.
That’s what stops you.
While there are options to keep flowing you’re never really stopped – you just need to find another way.
Which brings us to the second main option.
Sometimes you are stuck, sometimes there is no way forward.
You need to be absolutely sure about this.
Because when there is no way around an obstacle the only way left is to go through it.
That’s not always easy.
It helps if you have nothing to lose.
Most of us are not in that situation – we are lucky enough to have some element of choice.
We’re not restricted by oppressive regimes or the limits of our education.
The only real obstacle that stands in our way, all too often, is our self.
The self that talks to us, filled with doubt and fear – the voice that says we cannot do it or are not good enough.
The voice may be right.
But gravity is still gravity and downhill is still downhill.
And all you have to do is move – find a way to flow.