CommunicationResiliency & attitude

Incorporate obstacles into your goal messages

By May 10, 2021May 19th, 20212 Comments

Sometimes it can feel like you do everything right and the world conspires against you to foul things up. Ever get that feeling? You’re climbing toward your goals, struggling to get a grip, and something (or someone) gets in your way. It’s enough to make you want to throw up your arms in exasperation.

A number of years ago, I handled an obstacle when I was presenting to a rather large group. What I encountered was literally a physical obstacle. It was a great big pillar obstructing the view of many attendees.

Soon as I stepped on the platform and looked into the audience, I realize there was a problem.

POINT: When you encounter an obstacle, you have a choice.

At that moment, I knew I could either carry on and pretend there was no obstacle, or I could address it directly. I chose the latter.

Stepping down from the stage, I began speaking while walking amongst the attendees. I moved so that everyone could see me. And I spoke about the pillar in the way. Those people stuck behind it couldn’t have been happy, so I acknowledged their disappointment and challenge and I likened it to people and circumstances that blocked them from their goals.

TIP: Incorporate your obstacle into your messaging.

Instead of ignoring the unfortunate limitations of the room and the lack of visibility, I spoke about the pillar directly. It was, quite literally, the elephant in the room. I chose to incorporate it into my presentation and used it as a metaphor for obstacles getting in the way of us reaching goals, losing sight of what we really want to see, and increasing our frustration.

What obstacles are you facing these days? How can you use those obstacles to reinforce your message? How can they be examples of how to manage and cope?

After my presentation was over, many people came up to me (most of them being those stuck behind the pillar), commenting on how they enjoyed the elegant way I addressed the situation and used the pillar as a symbol of obstacles to be managed.

To this day, when I face an obstacle, I think of that pillar and I ask myself how I can use that challenge to pump up my message. It’s become a metaphor to me of how to address an obstacle head on and to share the lessons learned with others.

What obstacles are you facing these days? And most importantly, how can you use them to propel your goals forward?

©2021 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
Sign up for  “Marion’s Communication Tips” at

Post your comments and reactions below. There are no right or wrong responses, just honest, respectful ones. I’d love to hear your opinion. What about this article resonated with YOU?

Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.


  • Mark says:


    Great message. The way you were quick on your feet addressing the pillar was ingenious. No surprise how you rose to the occasion and turned this around to benefit everyone at your presentation. What I have learned from you time and time again, is how to take the high road and always stay tuned with the positive.

    Great job,

    • Mark, thanks for taking the time to provide some feedback. You’re right on target when you mention about taking the high road and finding something positive about a situation. The skill in making the obstacle become a learning point comes with practice and life gives all of us many of those opportunities (READ: obstacles) should we choose to use them productively.

Leave a Reply