The Obstacle is the Path

obstacle boulder in road In 1923 there was a great warlord who had the most guns, gold coins and goats of his lands. He was also a very wise man as he had traveled extensively and was well read. He believed that the people of his land were in decline as their attitudes were going downhill.

The warlord devised a plan to send his soldiers down to the main road with a crude gunpowder charge to dislodge a large boulder and roll it into the road. But first the warlord and his men sat on their horses and watched the action below.

First, some merchants came upon the rock and said, “Well, this boulder is blocking our path. Let’s turn around and go home. No work today!” And they turned around and left.

Next a group of school teachers came upon the boulder. “This rock is blocking our path,” they said. “I guess no one will need our services today”, and they turned around and went home as well.

The warlord watched person after person continue to come upon the rock, see it as an impasse or excuse and turn and go home.

That was, until an old man came upon the rock. Instead of becoming discouraged like the others, he got excited by the presence of such a challenge. He first examined the huge boulder and tried to push it with all his might. He realized this would not work and began to think of other solutions.

Then the quote from ancient mathematician Archimedes popped into his head, “If you give me a large enough lever and a fulcrum on which to place it, I shall move the world.” The old man was instantly inspired, and found a long wooden pole.

He placed the pole under the boulder and using leverage, moved the boulder slightly. He repeated this process until the boulder was completely off the road. With his challenge finished, the inspired man was about to set off down the previously blocked path toward the city, but he noticed a bag lying where the boulder once stood.

He looked around, picked up the bag and found inside a large amount of gold and a note. He carefully opened the note and read, “This gold is for you, since you know that great obstacles can lead to bigger opportunities.” The warlord, happy with the actions of this man, left his hiding place and went back to his castle with hope for his people.


“The obstacle is the path” is a profound philosophical concept that emphasizes the idea that challenges and difficulties in life are not hindrances but rather the very route to personal growth, enlightenment, and success. Instead of trying to avoid or bypass obstacles, this perspective encourages us to confront them head-on, recognizing that the journey through adversity is where we learn, adapt, and ultimately become stronger.

One illustrative example of “the obstacle is the path” can be found in the life of Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. Edison faced countless failures and challenges while developing the incandescent light bulb. In fact, he is famously quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” For Edison, each obstacle and setback was not a barrier to his goal but an essential part of the process. Instead of being discouraged by his numerous failures, he embraced them as opportunities to learn and refine his ideas. It was through these very obstacles that he eventually found the path to success, inventing a practical and commercially viable electric light.

In our own lives, we can apply this principle by reframing challenges and setbacks as opportunities for personal growth and development. When we encounter obstacles, we can choose to view them as the path toward achieving our goals rather than as insurmountable barriers. This mindset shift empowers us to persevere, adapt, and find innovative solutions, ultimately leading us toward success and self-improvement. “The obstacle is the path” reminds us that our journey is enriched by the difficulties we face, and by embracing them, we can reach new heights of achievement and resilience.

SGPT Homework:
What is your obstacle? How are you approaching this problem? Think it through and take a different attack.

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