‘Most success springs from an obstacle or failure. I became a cartoonist largely because I failed in my goal of becoming a successful executive.’ Scott Adams
In completing every single legacy project, you will have to deal with one or several obstacles. Here are 10 ways to deal with them:
1. Figure out obstacles before undertaking the journey. Okay, this might seem like an obvious one, but the easiest way to deal with obstacles is to anticipate them and have clear strategies in place for dealing with them.
2. Keep a sense of perspective. Keep thinking of the ‘bigger picture’, i.e. the reasons for starting your legacy project in the first place. When you do that, you may realise that the obstacle you are facing may not be as big as it first seemed.
3. Take things one step at a time. Try breaking down the obstacle into a set of smaller chunks, that you can tackle one at a time. This will help you keep your motivation up by enabling you to deal with the problem rather than being riddled with anxiety over having to deal with this big beast blocking your path.
4. Pick your battles. Ask yourself: do you really need to overcome this particular obstacle? You may be able to avoid dealing with it altogether if overcoming it is not crucial to completing the project.
5. Get others to help. Don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Tell others about your troubles and get them to pitch in; one little task completed by 100 people adds up to a lot of progress.
6. Keep focused on completing the project. Have a clear sense of what you are trying to achieve by the end, and don’t let things happening along the way detract you from that. If you are determined to get something done, and people see that, magical things start to happen. Gatekeepers become too scared to stand in your way and let you through, and others are inspired by you and start offering to help.
7. Think outside the box. There may be many different ways to deal with this particular obstacle. Investigate all possibilities, and choose the one that requires the least amount of energy, time, and effort. Get through, under, or over the obstacle if needed. Shortcuts are fine, as long as they don’t contradict your personal ethics and don’t get you into trouble with the law.
8. Find your own strengths. Nobody is perfect, so don’t focus on your shortcomings or try to correct them while working on your legacy project; this is not the right time to be thinking of that. Instead, have a clear idea of your strengths, and leverage them to compensate for your weaknesses.
9. Learn to get out of your own way. We ourselves are often our biggest liability in terms of getting legacy projects completed. Figure out what it is that motivates you to keep going when things get tough, and make sure you use that to smooth over the rough patches. Oh, and don’t feel like an idiot when you discover you’ve been standing in your own way all along. We’re all guilty of that some of the time, so you are not alone. Be glad you’ve realised that now rather than later, and get out of your way.
10. Obstacle or cul-de-sac. I don’t like saying this, but there are times when what we initially thought is simply an obstacle may be a cul-de-sac that simply cannot be overcome. It is often the case that if your entire legacy project depends on convincing one person, and they have already told you ‘no’ 15 times so far, and there is no other person on this planet who can fulfil the same role, you have hit a cul-de-sac. In such cases, you need to seriously consider quitting, because the more time you spend trying to convince this person the more time you are wasting. Don’t give up easily, but be aware of the cul-de-sac possibility, and be prepared to quit this particular legacy project in order to refocus your energy on a project that can be completed.
The time is now.
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