Is It an Obstacle or an Opportunity?

If you want to improve the quality of your life or business, planning is essential. You have to be honest about your current reality, envision a better future, and then create a roadmap for getting from one to the other.

But having a solid plan is no guarantee against encountering problems along the way. As a mentor of mine used to say, “Doo-doo occurs.”

In the video above, a classical violist faces the unexpected. Near the end of a concert, a cell phone goes off in the audience. Note what he does:

  • He embraces the interruption as an opportunity.
  • He uses the unexpected to demonstrate his artistry.
  • He wins over the crowd and a creates an unforgettable experience.

The Apostle James encouraged this kind of attitude when he wrote:

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance (1:2–4, J.B. Phillips New Testament)

The bottom line is that it all comes down to your perspective. Do you see obstacles as problems or opportunities?

Question: How could the problem you face today be an opportunity? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

    Beautiful! It’s how we perceive that matters.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Joe, your link definitely lines up with Michael’s post today. Thanks for sharing it.

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        You are welcome, TNeal. I myself was amazed at the similarity of the topics!

    • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

      Thank you! That was very helpful and added to what Michael is saying. I like the way you had fun with the idea of “Mr. Pressure” and using him to your advantage.

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        You’re welcome, Sharon.

  • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

    I see many of the problems I face as an opportunity for growth.  I have certainly experienced problems in my life that have left me asking why and have even left me feeling alone and hopeless for a period of time.  I think this is a natural response to some of the toughest challenges we may face.  Even while going through these things – these times of life – I was able to keep a perspective that God would somehow use this challenge for His Glory.  I have seen these challenges as an opportunity to gain a compassion and understanding for people who might be experiencing similar challenges.

    • http://byrdmouse.com Jonathan

      They’re all opportunities to be stretched, right?

      • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

        Absolutely!  You’ve obviously read my blog. :)

        • http://byrdmouse.com Jonathan

          Read it? I’m still trying to come up with a potential Guest Post to submit to you.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        In reading Jon’s words, for some reason “stretched” came to my mind as well. ;-)

        • http://jonstolpe.wordpress.com Jon Stolpe

          You guys make me smile.  Your comments confirm the theme and title of my blog.  Being Stretched is part of me.

      • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

        Good catch, Jonathan!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      I like your comment about perspective.  It is all about perspective.  

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I agree!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Our perspective changes a lot! When we keep our eyes on God and know that He is in control, it makes challenging situations bearable. We are then able to help others as you point out.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      As you said Jon, though we don’t like obstacles, we develop our spiritual muscles when we tackle them. God will never let us down. His love and strength toward us always prevail!

    • Rajeetoo

      I am experiencing the same sitiuation, when I said to a friend who came asking  for a help  and without any hesitation , i have been si frank, I said no , I can’t help you. as a result he now never comes to me, and hurt me alot.  After some hours of reflection I was thinking did I did the right thing, being frank to him, and here comes your message, thank for  sharing your experience that has boost up my moral

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Next time my phone goes off, I’ll use the situation as an opportunity to practice my whistling skills.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      For sure! I prefer a solid horn sound.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Kazoo, anyone?

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      If the tune’s not “Happy Birthday” or “Amazing Grace,” I haven’t got a Chihuahua’s chance in the Arctic of remembering it.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        A chihuahua in the Arctic’s chance of remembering The Star-Spangled Banner. I see. What nationality are you?

  • http://byrdmouse.com Jonathan

    They are all opportunities. On my own blog I have been posting a series of posts concerning the events of just one day, last Tuesday, and how all of the events that could have easily been perceived as obstacles were truly opportunities and all of them worked together to get me where I needed to be.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Sounds sweet, Jonathan. Want to post the link?

      • http://byrdmouse.com Jonathan

        http://byrdmouse.com is the blog site. The post started Monday and goes through today with an epilogue of sorts tomorrow.

        • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

          Cool. Thanks for the link!

  • http://tangoleadership.wordpress.com/ PoulAndreassen

    It is amazing to
    know that there are articles like this on web which actually takes the meaning
    of leadership to new aspect.

    “When all
    kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent
    them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test
    your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance” Obstacles are
    sometimes opportunity to a better opening.

    Thank you.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Great thought.  

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Thanks, Poul, for sharing the verse again. I reread it with open eyes this time and was struck with the product of trials and temptations, “the quality of endurance.”

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        I thought the same thing. Glad you posted the verse again, Poul. “Welcome them as friends!”

  • http://www.happyfamilytravels.wordpress.com/ Ronnie

    Who knew…he trained for all those years and really, all he needed to know was how to play ringtones!  :)  Really though, great response from a true professional!

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Ha ha … He would have a great Vegas act. 

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I was very impressed. All I could think was “I wish I could play ringtones on the violin.” 

  • http://christiansimplicity.com Christian Simplicity

    Coincidental that this hit my inbox this morning?  I posted this as my Facebook status not 10 minutes before.

    “I don’t recall my dream but it must have been a doozy. This is what I woke up thinking about. 

    When my freedom, right, or choice comes into conflict with another’s, how do I respond? Is there a pattern? Do I consistently assert myself? Do I hang my head and give up in a Charlie Brown sort of way? Do I size up the battle and then make a determination? Do I graciously yield?

    With the Lord’s prayer in mind, my hope is that I become the kind of person who is constantly desiring heaven on earth, and let that influence my response.”

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      You are a deep dreamer.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      How interesting and timely. When I see someone I haven’t seen in awhile, then see them a second time within days, I ask God, “What do you want me to do with this person?” I wonder what God is saying to you today. Get ready?

  • Jeff Martin

    Fantastic, Mr Hyatt!  Thanks for sharing a tremendous illustration of what it means to remain fluid and faithful.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Glad you enjoyed post, Jeff. 

  • Patricia W Hunter

    Love this. I’m learning to embrace the opportunities within interruptions more and more. Thank you for this inspiring example.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      “The opportunities within interruptions …” Great phrase. The interruptions are often the most annoying, but with great potential.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    As a speaker it’s always nice to have a cellphone response. It’s inevitable that someone will forget to turn their’s off.

    Here are a few responses that I’ve heard recently…

    That’s my boss calling to check up on me. Please tell him I am here and you are loving my presentation about… 

    Ok, who ordered the pizza? 

    Who here dislikes those evening sales calls as much as I do? In fact that makes my exact point about….  

    If that is my wife calling, tell her I won’t forget to pick up the milk on the way home

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Excellent!

      Ever have anyone in the crowd call you “just to make sure” your phone is silenced?

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        I like it… I’ll have to add that one to my list!

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I’ve done that to our lead minister before.  Haven’t caught his phone on yet…

        • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

          Oh man, our church leader gets caught all the time.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Ha!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love the idea of pre-planning how to respond to these interruptions. What a great opportunity for a little humor.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Phil-Baquie/1422775349 Phil Baquie

        On a podcast about his book “Becoming Orthodox” Fr. Peter Gillquest made a quick comeback when a cell phone rang during an important point he was making. He said “Can somebody get that, I can’t do everything around here.”    What a quick whit!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      These made me laugh. That is a great idea! It seems like it would help you make a transition right back to your topic. If the phone goes off and you just pretend like it didn’t it leave people thinking “Did he hear it? Did it make him upset?” Another bad response would be to jump off stage at the person and “remind” them to turn off their phone. Your responses are fluid, funny, and professional (couldn’t think of another word that starts with f).

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Oh, John, you reminded me that I’ve been with that person (another pastor and I were blessing the communion elements when her cell phone went off) and I’ve been that person (annual church conference with thousands in the main meeting hall). I smile (when it’s her phone) and shrivel (when it’s mine). Sounds like you’ve handled that situation with the same grace and good spirit as the violinist.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      Thanks John for giving these good ideas!

  • http://www.suttonparks.com Sutton Parks

    I love that video! Dan Miller calls problems, “Opportunities for solutions”.  One particular situation I have today can be an opportunity to show faith and take action, for “faith without action is dead”.  I have an opportunity to be positive when there seemingly seems no reason to be.  I have an opportunity to believe if I keep trying something good will come of it.  Thanks for the post!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Remaining hopeful in spite of grim circumstances takes a lot of faith and a firm belief that you are on the right path. You are right, Sutton, faith without actions is, if not dead, on life support.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Exactly.  We have the choice on how we will respond.  

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I like Dan Miller’s phrase. That changes our whole perception of the situation.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      Sutton, I like that phrase: opportunities for solutions! Cool!

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Love it. We have tried to change this language in our home by saying, “Honey, we have an opportunity…”

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      At my previous company, we called all “problems”, opportunities for growth.

      • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

        Jason.  That is what my company says about problems/challenges.  We first refer to problems as challenges.  Challenges are opportunities for growth.  

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      This is great! 

      • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

        Thanks.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      Thanks, Ben. I’ll try that too!

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    I think it is frequently a matter of our perspective.  If we live in a world where, we believe all problems are obstacles, everything that challenges us will be an obstacle.  But if our perspective is longer than just the short term, or is framed by our relationship with Christ, we will not see challenges solely through that prism:  we will understand that challenges are indeed opportunities to use the gifts and strengths we have (or may didn’t know we had) to overcome.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      True, Thad. We shouldn’t have the mindset of ‘seeing’ obstacles everywhere. It’s better to see ‘opportunities’ all around for Christ to work wonders!

  • Alan Kay

    Inspiring observation! Here we have the expertise of the violinist playing on his wonderful piece of technology, the violin. The sublime moment is interrupted by another piece of superb technology, the mobile phone. The violist looks for what he and the phone owner have in common – music – and he makes the most of it. And, the phone owner likely learns to turn off their phone at the next concert.  

    Just imagine if we could teach the entire world to notice what we have in common, learn something and make the most of it. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great observation, Alan. Thanks.

    • http://www.roccocapra.com/ Rocco Capra

      And I LOVE the fact there was no shame involved!!!!!!

      • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

        Yeah, that was cool.  

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        Agree. His smile was contagious not condescending.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      Alan –

      Thank you for your perspective. If I could learn to notice what I have in common with a student who asks a loaded question/makes a challenging comment — before I open my mouth to react to them — it would make a world of difference.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com Paul B Evans

    “Do you see obstacles as problems or opportunities?”Both.If I view it as only an opportunity, I’ll lose the context of the struggle. Then when helping someone else through a similar challenge I’ll say something like, “Come on! This is an opportunity!” Which isn’t the best approach for everyone. :) Compassion is a key ingredient when coming alongside the wrestler.If I view only as a obstacle, I lose the learning. The focus becomes the struggle and not the strength gained from pushing through.But regardless all problems are opportunities in that…Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Cor 1:3-4

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent point, Paul. I have sometimes annoyed my daughters when I have been too quick to point out the opportunity and not appreciate the struggle.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      Paul –

      I appreciate your inclusion of compassion. “coming alongside the wrestler” also implies empathy, an “I’ve been there” understanding of the struggle.

      Someone who gives me flip advice that ignores my struggle leaves me wondering what’s wrong with me: Why, if the answer is so obvious and so easy, do I find it so hard? 

      On the flip side, someone who empathetically shares their own story of struggle helps me feel hopeful. A “here’s what worked for me” approach invites me to trust them as a mentor and guide.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        Choosing to see the opportunity within an obstacle originates from within. It usually doesn’t work when someone else tries to legislate from without, especially when my obstacle is a significant loss or grief. In those cases, compassion is usually the best offering. And once compassion is given/received, usually we’re more able to move past the pain to glimpse the opportunity.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Very interesting thought, Paul.  

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Very wise counsel. You offer a perspective we might have too quickly dismissed.

  • Anonymous

    As stated, it’s all Perspective!  You have the ability to treat every situation as a obstacle or opportunity.  Try to treat today as an Opportunity and you might be surprised how well your day goes.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Douglas, great thought.  Do you have any tips on how to view the day as an opportunity? 

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      That’s a good word of motivation, Douglas!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks!  We needed to hear that.  We are facing a huge “opportunity” this very day! :)

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Great.  I like how your phrased up your day! 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Your statement intrigues. I do hope your huge “opportunity” produces a good outcome.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      Catch it!

  • http://www.eileenknowles.com/ Eileen

    LOVE this post.  It’s all about our perspective!  Thanks.

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    I loved the post too.  What a great perspective. Short post, but a lot packed into it.  

    As a side note, when you embed videos you may want to choose to uncheck the box that says, “show suggested videos when the video finishes.” That way you and your subscribers won’t be surprised by suggested…or suggestive!…videos as the case may be.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kelly. I will have to check with my developer. This is all being handled automatically for me behind the scenes. I just input the YouTube id number. I’ll try to figure it out. Thanks.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed! I was just about to say the same thing about the related videos….

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Okay, I just heard from my developer. I think it is fixed! Thanks so much for pointing this out.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I had the same thought.  But I have to admit, it made me laugh!

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      You said it right, Kelly!

  • http://twitter.com/JoshuaBagley Josh Bagley

    Only if we all can be prepared to respond in that way. I think challenges we face can be opportunities if we are prepared to face them in the right way.

    • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

      Preparation is key.  

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      Josh, what you said about preparation is true. We must be prepared to respond positively!

  • Joseph Nguyen

    I see obstacles as an opportunity to learn and to grow.

  • Tamara Scipio

    This is just what I needed on today. Thank you and God Bless!!

  • RonSharp4G

    His preparation led him to successful improvisation.  The skills were already present…just expressed differently than planned initially.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      It’s interesting how he seemed prepared for it, as if he anticipated the unexpected and was able to just go with it. Perhaps expecting interruptions and distractions is, in part, the secret of being able to turn them into opportunities?

  • Charles stone

    Delightfully amazing-a beautiful metaphor for responding to obstacles

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Definitely great point Mike. Thx

  • http://www.roccocapra.com/ Rocco Capra

    I am loving this story! And Michael’s take on it.

  • http://jamsmooth.com Jamsmooth

    Right on time. Thanks for the post. 

  • Mike4vol

    Great reminder. Thanks for the inspiration this morning!

  • Rob Sorbo

    I’ve always been pretty good at seeing problems in a positive light, but it’s not usually very easy.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I agree.  Sometimes it’s extremely difficult.

  • http://www.hansschiefelbein.com Hans Schiefelbein

    Love the short and powerful application of this “current event” / viral video.

  • http://www.wadeoradio.com DJ Wade-O

    I’m sharing this with my wife and my team. Thanks Michael. great perspective.

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    What a beautiful example of finessing an awkward situation! Oh, to have such grace under fire.

    After two decades in the classroom, I am still more reactive to certain types of student “input” than I’d like to be. Just yesterday, during my yearly evaluation, I told my principal that I’m ready to install a device that clamps my mouth shut for 5 seconds after any question/comment so I can “be still” and know that I am not God!

    My poor reactions to students are always opportunities for me to learn. But I’d sure like to turn the initial comment/question into an opportunity to learn and bypass my knee-jerk reactions altogether!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks for sharing Cheri. I think we all could learn from your experience. Taking a “pause” is essential for adequately assessing almost every unexpected situation. It gives us time to assess, count the costs, and react the right way.

    • Rachel Lance

      Be gentle with yourself, Cheri! I’m not a teacher and I’ve only been a parent for a year but my understanding of “kids these days” is they think pretty darn quickly. Focus on those moments of reflection at the end of each day & replay your reaction as you’d rather see it. Pretty soon I bet you’ll see some change.

      • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

        “replay your reaction as you’d rather see it”

        Thanks for the practical reframe, Rachel! I spend too much replaying what I did, which only reinforces it. Establishing and then replaying the way I’d rather see it will break that cycle and prepare me for the next “opportunity” that is sure to come my way!

        • Rachel Lance

          Glad it resonated with you! I rehash a lot too, so must be diligent to make sure that mental energy takes me somewhere productive. 

  • Scott M

    Wow! I really needed this reminder this morning.  I work for a large company that recently filed for bankruptcy and the next several weeks and months will have multiple obstacles in my way.  There is huge amount of uncertainty with my employment future, but during a previous period of unemployment I took proactive steps to improve my professional experience and not let external factors get me down.  Yesterday the reality of the situation really hit me, but I will put the words from James in my head and on my hear and know my faith will survive and God will help me endure. 

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Scott,
      Thanks for sharing your situation, and I hope/pray that God will use you during this uncertain time.

  • http://www.rebeccaetc.com Rebecca Eaton

    My perception is usually limited to a “three’s a crowd” mentality. One problem or obstacle comes along and I can plow through it with grace. Two problems or obstacles at the same time or regarding the same issue are able to slow me down a bit, and I approach them more timidly. Any more problems come along, and it’s like a daunting brick wall I struggle to even understand.

    I’ve been focusing on job hunting lately or working out how to pay our bills while attempting to get books published, and we’ve prayed for God to close doors that aren’t his best for us. The first door closed and we thought, “Okay, God has something better.” Then one by one, doors have been slowly closing or slamming shut when I run toward them. With each new problem, it’s increasingly harder not to be heavily discouraged and depressed.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Great point Rebecca. When the “opportunities for growth” pile up on us, the weight of it all can be overwhelming. Thank God for community. When the burden becomes too heavy, seek the comfort, counsel and encouragement of friends. Sometimes I wait until it’s too late and let the challenges become an obstacle I’ll never be able to overcome. God has faithfully worked through people to get me back on track. Thank you for sharing your story and your struggle.

      Praying for you and your family.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      Rebecca –

      I get what you’re saying, albeit on a smaller scale. When typical high school student behavior is my only challenge during a class period, I generally handle it like an old pro. But if there’s a sudden schedule change coupled with the Internet being down plus a sudden rain storm, I find myself “blind-sided” by those same typical high school student behaviors. 

      I used to beat myself up for being inflexible and unprofessional, but I found that the Heath brothers offer a more compassionate explanation in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. 

      They point out that dealing with change, especially big change, exhausts “the mental muscles needed to think creatively, to focus, to inhibit impulses, and to persist in the face of frustration or failure…. 

      So when you hear people say that change is hard because people are lazy or resistant, that’s just flat wrong. In fact, the opposite is true: Change is hard because people wear themselves out. And that’s the second surprise about change: What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.” (pg. 12)

      • http://www.rebeccaetc.com Rebecca Eaton

        Hey, that’s great stuff. I can definitely relate, and not just with my current situation. When things pile up so dramatically as they have lately, I find myself returning to the same one word explanation of how I am: “Weary.” 

        There comes a point in time when all the prayer time and Bible reading time in the world just doesn’t cut it because, frankly, it’s not God’s timing. I think our human minds just can’t understand it and we exhaust ourselves trying to fix things or change things on our own. By the time we realize it’s not working and all of this has nothing to do with us, we’re too spent to do anything but just be. And that, for me, usually manifests itself as complete and utter despair.

        Just looked it up, and that book is at the local library. Maybe I’ll make a trip over when they’re open. 

        Thanks for your words.

  • http://www.joyjoyg.com/ Joy Groblebe

    Love this!  The truth is, when these things happen, there’s very little you can do that is constructive besides turning a negative into a positive.  Turn lemons into lemonade….or something like that.  (I would still add sugar.) :)

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Yes, lemonade without sugar would still not be my pick! I am finding that perspective changes everything. It takes some preparation before the opportunity comes but it is so worth it.

  • http://twitter.com/burlw Burl Walker

    The blog post was great as always, but the moment with the violinist was incredible! Thanks for sharing! Obstacles either make us stronger or they stop us. I love this great musical example of stepping over the obstacle with grace.

    • http://joeandancy.com/ Joe Abraham

      “Stepping over the obstacle with grace” – that’s a good statement, Burl!

  • Anonymous

    When I saw the title of your post this morning, I thought maybe you wrote it just for me.  Last night I lost my biggest client. Instead of being sad and discouraged, I found myself excited for the opportunity to increase my sales skills, network with new people, and grow my business in new ways.  I can’t wait to turn this obstacle into an opportunity (one of my favorite sayings, BTW).

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Thanks for sharing Jeremy! Go get’em.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Excellent attitude, Jeremy, and one that will help draw clients and keep them.

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com/ Eric S. Mueller

    A couple years ago, my family went to Williamsburg, VA. We took one of the “ghost tours”. They have several available. The first one involves actors giving monologues about ghost lore from the revolutionary era. While we were at the Wythe house, my youngest (who was 3 at the time) decided he was thirsty, and would not rest until somebody produced a bottle of water. He was starting to distract the actress, who looked at us with an evil eye, but somehow she was able to keep going through it. That was admirable.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      I am very familiar with “the evil eye.”

  • Anonymous

    Love the video – grace under pressure.  Thanks for the reminder to view those times in our lives as opportunities.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      By the way, Dan, I am loving your podcast. I really look forward to the weekly inspiration!

  • Lousieg88

    I have more to do today than time to do it in.  :)

    The opportunity is to truly face my reality of filling my hours with more than I can honestly accomplish.

    The reality is to get real with my tendency to overbook, and ultimately, under-deliver. to let go of the harried feeling I sometimes go through my day with by lovingly embracing my habit and becoming more conscious of its tendency to disrupt my peace of mind, my sense of self-efficacy, my sense of being present.

    When I turn the problem of ‘my day’ into an opportunity for me to grow, I am able to delete those things from my ‘to do’ list that a) don’t add value, b) are not priorities, or c) are simply fillers I’ve inserted into my calendar to give myself a sense of ‘meaning’. 

    I don’t need fillers to give me meaning. I simply need to be conscious of living my purpose with integrity — and without filling my time with meaningless things.

    • Louiseg88

      tee hee — and that should read:    Louiseg88

      flying fingers :)

  • Anonymous

    The reference in the scripture verse from James, solidified your message and took it to a deeper and fully encompassing level.    It is now on a sticky note on my monitor.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I write sticky notes and leave them around my desk everyday! 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great place to post a reminder like James 1!

  • http://www.timpeters.org/ Tim Peters

    Great reminder.  I actually wrote on how to create a yearlong communications plan on my blog, today.  

    http://bit.ly/Azj1bL

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Without conflict there is no story. We’re drawn to the story where someone overcomes great odds/obstacles to succeed. What makes the violinist memorable in this video isn’t his mastery of a piece, but his adapting to the interruption and ending with both a flourish and a smile.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      And a memory in the minds of everyone involved.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      T-
      I love that! The larger the conflict—the more amazing the story can be in the end. I don’t always feel like that during the challenge of the obstacle…. but it’s so true!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      YES! Without conflict there is no story. We’re so resistant to conflict, for obvious reasons. But we love stories, and how the hero or heroine pushes through enormous conflict for some kind of breathtaking transformation. If only we could learn to regularly step back and see the beauty of the story in our own lives!

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        And the value of conflict. I’ve learned over the years that conflict can be a good thing in marriage, not that you try to purposefully start fights. They happen without even trying. But in those moments with Ellen, I’ve learned more about her, what she values, and how she handles difficulty. We go deeper with one another when we stay the course through a conflict. And without those abrasive moments in our marriage, we would grow very little as individuals or as a couple.

      • Rachel Lance

        So important! I’ve found myself resigned to a conflict or trial, thinking I’m handling it well since I’m not resisting. But really, to handle a difficult situation well is to embrace it as the most important part of the story.

  • Anonymous

    I love it. It’s just like what my father-in-law always says, “Life doesn’t have problems, but opportunities.” Thanks Michael!

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      Farther-in-laws can be a wonderful gift. Sounds like some wise words.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Amazing!  I just saw this video for the first time yesterday, and here it is again!  This guy is inspiring!

    I have to admit, it usually takes me a little while before I see obstacles as anything more than obstacles.  I have to stop and process things for a little while before I see them as opportunities.

    I’ve realized this about myself, and as a result, when I face big obstacles, I make myself stop, and get away from everything to pray and examine it a little deeper.  By then, I can approach the issue with a clearer mind.

    • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

      I’m the same way. I have to take a step back before viewing it as an opportunity. That is where those walks to change the scenery come in.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I do the same thing, a hike usually helps a lot.  Or a long drive…

        • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

          I don’t usually go for long drives unless I have to. I usually stress out about all the gas I’m going to have to pay for later.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I can relate, but sometimes that’s the only thing I can think of to do to get away and think.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Jeff,
      I am with you. I need to be able to spend some time processing an obstacle before I can see the road to opportunity. I think the challenge for me is to literally say to myself, in the middle of a trial, “there IS an opportunity here—find it!”

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I’m just glad that I can finally recognize that in myself…

        • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

          Jeff –

          Charismatic/Heroic leadership has long been the “ideal.” We long to be leaders who know, without thinking, just what to do/say…whose instincts are so honed that every automatic action is precisely what each situation needs.

          Research is exposing this ideal to be largely a myth. “Reflective Leadership” is not flashy, and may never be popular, but it’s gaining respect.

          It’s taken me half a lifetime to recognize that saying, “I’ll need 24 hours” is a statement of strength, not evidence of failure.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I completely agree!  I think reflective leadership is a sign of leadership maturity.

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  • http://twitter.com/ShanSteffen Shannon Steffen

    Absolutely brilliant! It’s that art and creativity that makes you stand out of a crowd. Long gone are the days where fitting the “mold” was the right thing to do to succeed. Now we must stand out and seize opportunities as they come.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      There is definitely an “art” to handling difficult problems.

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    Wow, he really handled that brilliantly! Most of the problems I face are with myself and my fears, I just need to get out of my own way! 

  • Rmramarsweet

    I have a friend who lost 6 family members in one single car accident.  She is so strong, and she has used this event (even as serious as it was) to speak about God’s grace, mercy, love, and faithfulness.  I learned a lot from her enormous amount of faith….now there’s an obstacle that could have sent her in the wrong direction…but it didn’t.  And now every opportunity she has to talk about God, she takes it.

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    When big problems surface I have to think. I pull away for a little bit. I may go for a run, or drive 10 minutes to the state park and walk the trail. I need to clear my head and take a fresh look at the situation. I pray about it. I have found the longer I wait to let God in, the longer it takes to refresh my perspective. After all that I am usually ready to tackle the situation and help out others.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Yep,
      love walking/thinking/praying combo.  I need to come up for a word for it though!

  • http://colebradburn.com/ Cole Bradburn

    Years ago, one of my mentors told me “Without a clear vision, you cannot tell the difference between opportunity and distraction.”  

    Once you know where you are going, it provides a clearer way to make decisions.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Cole, that is great stuff. And another reason to spend time clarifying the vision we have for our faith, families, careers, and our lives.  Great job tying together today’s post and Monday’s post!

      • http://colebradburn.com/ Cole Bradburn

        Thanks Barry!

  • Andrew Acker

    I always say perspective is worth at least 50 IQ-points. In the current problem I face though I will either be apart of propelling an organization forward and given the “blessing” to do so, or I will have the opportunity to begin with a new company and a fresh start in the early part of my career.

    • Jim Martin

      Andrew, I like this!  “…perspective is worth at least 50 IQ-points.”  Now that is true!  Again and again I have seen the value of seeking clarity which will often give me a different perspective on a situation.

  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    Brilliant!  My favorite take-away from studying Ritz-Carlton.  “There are no problems, just opportunities!”  …from the study of satisfaction, they know that a problem handled well is more likely to lead to higher guest satisfaction than never experiencing a problem at all.

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Great point. 

  • Sally

    Love it!  Not only is he a gifted musician but a quick thinker.  I would of thought of doing this a day late. :)  As a Christian what helps me to see things as an opportunity versus a struggle is being in God’s Word on a regular basis; I see God’s hand in everyday life much more compared to those times when I slide away from daily time with Him.  – Sally

  • http://www.irunurun.com/blog/ Travis Dommert

    Present life example…we have a newborn at home who has a tendency to take center stage from his 4 young siblings as well as draw sleep from his parents which can make us a bit less jovial. I occasionally get concerned the kids will resent him.  (A 20min screamfest makes the ring tone sound like music to my ears!)
    Instead, my wife has used it to teach the other kids various lessons…such as patience, caring, and tolerance.  Even teamwork…they’ll rally together to brainstorm “how can we make Levi happy!?”  She’s amazing.

    • Rachel Lance

      Lovely example – hopefully I’ll remember this one day. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://charlielyons.ca Charlie Lyons

    His frustration with the ___________ (insert your thoughts about the person who’s phone rings :)) is apparent but it’s a great recovery on his part. I wrote about this topic not long ago on my own blog: 
    http://www.charlielyons.ca/2011/11/interruption-or-opportunity/

    Thanks, Michael. Blessings!

  • http://www.susanbiali.com/ Dr. Susan Biali, M.D.

    Last night, a coaching client was complaining me about how bad the situation at her workplace is getting…as I have said many times to people in her situation, I told her that these are often circumstances to be celebrated, as very often you won’t get the motivation needed to make the leap until you’re really squeezed by your present circumstances. She has been saying she wants to leave for a while now – I have the feeling that God is trying to help her out : )

    • Jim Martin

      Susan, I like the way you express this.  “…very often you won’t get the motivation needed to make the leap until you’re really squeezed by your present circumstances.”  That is so true.

  • K James Rosentrater

    This is wonderful. I pray to have the quickness of mind and readiness of heart to really see what is going on around me. It’s so easy to focus on the obstacle, particularly if you are in the company of people who seem to consistently do that. A little bit of spoken negativity goes a long ways.

    • Jim Martin

      I really like the beginning of your third sentence.  “It’s so easy to focus on the obstacle….”  Very true!  Invariably, when I focus on the obstacle, I lose the perspective that I need to meet the challenge that I am facing.  Thanks.

      • K James Rosentrater

        I agree, Jim. And, when people around you almost insistently focus on the obstacle, it’s hard to keep your own perspective. That’s why I said a little bit of spoken negativity goes a long ways. So does a little bit of encouragement! We don’t always realize the power of our words!

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    I appreciate the phrase “quality of endurance.” It’s a quality that has to develop and mature through hard work, patients and time.

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    I recently spoke to a group of women and began by saying “One day my cell phone rang…” when a ladies cell phone really did ring.  She was so embarrassed but it was perfect timing! 

    This post, however, helps clear up the fog for me as I am in the middle of an ‘interruption’ and have not been able to see clearly until now.

    I look forward to turning my situation into opportunity/artistry/win -win experience.

    Thanks again for your wisdom!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      That’s a fun story, Lori.

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 5:16 where we are told to “make the most of every opportunity.” In fact, it’s the impetus behind my blog. This was a great post and reinspired me to keep going down the path I am on.

    • Rachel Lance

      So glad today’s post spoke to you right where you are!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Babich/100002993676826 Jane Babich

    Great post! Just as the artist made a lasting memory out of an obstacle; this post has given me a lasting point of reference to prepare to RESPOND not REACT when obstacles are revealed in the process. THANKS!

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      It is a great visual.

    • Jim Martin

      Jane, I like the way you distinguish between “respond” and “react.”  As you indicate, there is a big difference between the two.

    • Rachel Lance

      Responding vs reacting – excellent takeaway, Jane!

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/9buxN0dljZPFNI91f4I0LrlBJcWR5YcV#04f58 Sean Boisen

    Great example of this at Logos Bible Software this week. Somebody tossed a cinder block through one of our doors Monday night, and it was captured on security video. Our social media guys turned it into an opportunity to talk about our latest software update (talk about a “doorbuster”!), uploaded the video to YouTube, and even got coverage on the local news.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    I’ve been doing a study of James with a group of women for the past month. James 1:2-4 as well as your pointed question were the exact subject of our conversation yesterday. My toes have been stepped on two days in a row, thank you very much. ;)

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Very cool, Michele.  I’m glad I’m not the only one getting my “toes stepped on” when reading Michael’s content!

  • Gillianhorne

    Thanks Michael, this resonances with me.
    I’ve recenty signed up to your email updates and find them really encouraging.

  • Dmondesir

    Hi Michael! Almost 2 years ago, I was forced to move back home with my parents.  I came home and immediately started applying for for several jobs, but to no avail.  My opportunities were limited since I had no transportation; only a home office.  Finally, I stumbled across the concept of becoming a virtual assistant and the increasing demand for it.  I took this, paired it with my ability to write, and after some more failed attempts and a good dose of wisdom, decided to create my own virtual writing and editing company!  Now my business, Desired Assistance, is steadily growing and I have big plans for the future!  

    This month, I decided to launch a spin-off wedding blog: http://www.DesiredAssistanceWeddings.wordpress.com and decided to turn it into a book once I gained enough material.  It was actually your testimony of doing the same that convinced me that this was possible.  I can already see God positioning me and connecting me to succeed in this venture.

    I thank God for your ministry and your testimony sir, it’s highly encouraging.  I wish you God’s absolute best!  

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      What a great example of looking for the opportunity in the obstacle!   Thanks for sharing that.

  • http://www.semperfiprinting.com/ Mohsin Mallik

    I always see the obstacles as an opportunity to make my way better. As I have faced so much obstacles in my life in terms of choosing my profession. :)

  • http://www.ChristianStressManagement.com/ Miriam Kinai

    I believe that seeing obstacles as tests that we need to take and pass before we can move on to the next level can help us deal with obstacles better if it makes us determined to pass that test by being better Christians rather than fail the test by degenerating to the level of those who are testing us or our patience. And as a result, our endurance is improved in the process of trying to master these trials.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Great view, Miriam!

  • https://pocketpurposeblog.wordpress.com/ Carlene Byron

    Lost job. Next day, I’m talking w/a friend about a book she wants written. Next week, I’m engaged as a contract editor by another friend. Three days later, I’m flying home because my mom’s been hospitalized. The “problem” made me available for opportunities (and responsibilities) I didn’t know existed — but God saw the whole picture.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      That’s the key, Carlene!  Many say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  The bible says that God doesn’t give you more than He can handle.  Congrats on your recognition of that!

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        You’re absolutely right, John. Thanks for making that distinction.

    • Jim Martin

      Great to hear your story Carlene.  Very encouraging.  Congratulations.

  • Mac Dumcum

    Thanks, Mr. Hyatt, for your very clever way of providing us with a much needed reminder.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • http://www.charlesspecht.com/ Charles Specht

    Opportunity is what you make of it.  If you make nothing of it…it is missed.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Right, Charles.  It’s also been said that “Success is when preparation meets opportunity”.  If you’re not prepared for the opportunity, like you said, you will miss it!

  • PFennJ

    I think I like the perspective of, the interruption used as an opportunity to enhance his performance…instead of hindering or spoiling it. And, so long as he got to continue to perform & enjoy himself doing what he obviously loves to do….  It’s only when the interruption is so overpowering/overbearing or such that it stops you in your tracks, deals you a blow that is just too hard for you to continue performing…that I dont understand it, ie., such interruptions.

    • Jim Martin

      PFennJ, good point.  At times there are overpowering interruptions.  It was nice to see the grace in which this guy handled his interruption.

  • Anonymous

    A great lesson in Improv comedy — you have to say ‘yes’ to everything. Great lesson in life, too. The violinist was present, said ‘yes’ and ‘won the moment.’

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      So true, Rich.  It could be said that life is Improv.

  • Donovankitkat

    The editor of my first book is a retired English teacher and lifelong friend to whom I email weekly additions to the work for her advise and corrections. As the work has progressed her interest has peaked and now she refers to herself as the co-author. I must either discontinue this liasion, or inform my friend that she is not the co-author but will receive mention and dedication if the book is published. It is unfortunate that people assume part ownership of a property on which they initially offer advise to fill their idle time. I have learned a hard lesson and will regret loosing an old friend.   

  • http://twitter.com/rkinnick59 Randy Kinnick

    What an excellent demonstration of making opportunities work for you.  Every situation is an opportunity of some sort.  Perspective has a lot to do with our ability to see them as such.  I will try to remind myself to see life through that kind of lens.  Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    “The Chinese write the word crisis with two characters, one of which means danger and the other opportunity.””Milo Perkins  Perspective is definitely the key.  And many times, like in the video, mishaps draw on our artistry, draws out our humanity, and causes others to connect with us on a level that would not have been possible without it.

  • http://www.setongod.com/ Joshua OneNine

    I used to play in a Jazz Band and everyday we would start with an improv session. We would also try to come up with the coolest beat, so I should do the same with life. Whether the “drummer” is playing a difficult tempo or taking it easy. 

  • Veda Ram

    My daughter is preparing for Secondary School Entrance Exams. Over 18000 children will vie for the top schools. She is going through a real rough time now  and I have been beside myself trying to deal with the interruptions ..fasting, praying, trying over and over.. I will use this experience to focus on the positives and  build her self esteem.

  • Anonymous

    Exceptional point! 

    I see each obstacle as a means to get me closer to my goals. Whether they’re huge or minute, obstacles are opportunities and lessons just waiting to be unraveled! There really isn’t any need for us to run from them; they will only show back up in a different form and in more problematic ways than the previous time we approached them. I face those “Doo Doo occurrences” (loved that, by the way) the first go around. That way my chances for conquering them are greater than waiting for them to become a major catastrophe. :)

  • http://www.15minutewriter.com Sharon Gibson

    Thank you, I needed this today. I finally got motivated again to write my book and was on a roll when despite first rate protection, a virus hit and shut down my computer. I needed to be reminded that these trials actually test my faith and give me the opportunity to once again persevere. 
    I liked the idea that you can use these things to demonstrate your artistry, an intriguing positive twist to think about.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Sharon,
      Keep on going! Steven Preston, in The War of Art, calls that “resistance.” We all face the resistance, and like you said it’s all about persevering through it!

  • http://www.nginaotiende.blogspot.com Ngina Otiende

    Wow, what a powerful way to deal with the unexpected! 

    I know that taking life a little less seriously would help me respond better to the unexpected :) 

    An uptight, overly-focused view has little room for life’s little plays, interruptions and fun.

    I like the way the guy shrugs benignly at the end of the performance :) . Almost like he’s saying, “what else am i supposed to do when you interrupt my performance?”

    Thanks for sharing this Michael, powerful video to bring the point across.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Ngina,
      I am with you 100%. I thought is wry little look at the end of the video was worth the whole video. The look and response was almost a bit passive aggressive in it’s delivery to say, “turn that flippin’ thing OFF.” loved it!

  • Lewis

    I’ve been looking for job for months and finally received an offer, but there has been a hold up for some reason; I’m in contact with the hiring official and have been reassured that they want me. I’ve taken this time to examine what my most urgent needs are now; and what action steps I need to take to have them met. After being unemployed for so long and going through the trying process of hunting for a job; I can take this time to shift into a different gear; work out my budget; take some naps (there have been some sleepless nights). God allows delays for a purpose and calming my spirit is the priority now. 

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Lewis,
      I love your outlook on what, I’m sure, is a very trying time. I hope and pray that everything comes through with the new offer and that the new job becomes a reality sooner than later.

      • Lewis

        Barry,
        Thanks for your words of encouragement and prayer, the word just came through have  a start date of Feb. 1st… ironically as a manager for a cafe. God is good.

        • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

          Awesome! You’ll have to buy me a cup of coffee sometime soon! ha.

        • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

          Hey Lewis,
          I remembered that today was your first day, so I thought I would see how it went? I hope it was a great first day!

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  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    a practical musical hurdle. one that i face week in week out. this has definitely encouraged my resolve to obstacles and interruptions.

  • Sarah Korpita

    Perfect for me today.  I work in local government and strive to work productively with outside organizations.  I realized after reading this, that if I can change my perspective and view these groups as an opportunity for growth personally and professionally, it can completely change the dynamics of our relationship.  Thank you for the insight!

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  • Anonymous

    I love how James challenges us to rise to the occasion, to embrace the adversity and grow from it. Truly he ability to do so come from our attitude (mindset). Find the opportunity to thrive and excel in the midst of life’s challenges and curve balls is a skill we all can practice by focusing on James’s words and monitoring our perception. Great post!

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  • Gayle Glenn

    Absolutely wonderful example of using the obstacle in terrific way!!!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/eversmiling Kingsley Izuka Uchunor

    Life is better lived by having a perspective toward it. And it is this perspective that helps you to see challenges as obstacles or opportunity. Every challenge has always been opportunity of becoming better if handled as gift. Challenges will either leave you better or worse depending on your approach.

  • Srr3

    In my organization “opportunity” is synonymous with “responsibility” and “challenge”.  It’s all interchangeable.  

  • Gayle Glenn

    What a moment for a musician with an ear and a flair for thinking on his feet—-priceless!!  Perspective was handling this as opportunity–not an obstacle.  Took the starch right out of what could have been perceived negatively and positively shined the light of his talent on the situation! ” I will prepare for the opportunity….” (Believe that was Abe Lincoln’s phrase!)

  • http://candelierious.blogspot.com Lis

    Thank you so much for this post.  It is very true.

    My husband has been telling me this for years.  Leave it to Michael Hyatt to get me to listen. :)

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Hi Lis,
      There’s a marriage enhancing opportunity … you can tell your husband that his advice was so good that even Michael Hyatt is giving it.  

      Of course, there’s a marriage degradation opportunity too … you can tell your husband that you it didn’t mean as much coming from him.

      I recommend the former :)  

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    Too often when I face a problem my knee-jerk reaction is to plow over or through it regardless of the collateral damage. The concert violinist is a great example of turning a problem into an opportunity.

    I was waiting for him to whack someone with his violin.

  • Chandana

    By turning the unexpected in to something that fits in to the Scene & make a Win -Win situation makes even an obstacle support your effort. This requires the craftsmen ship of a Hands on, spontaneous with quick reflexes. Fantastic Clip. Thank you Michael

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  • Nfbrucker

    This is an amazing article! I would be honored to hold your content in one of my blog posts called “How To Be. A Success Magnet.” This content and the video would go great with one of my supporting paragraphs :)
    http://www.bodyidolfitness.com

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