Entering the “Orange Cone Zone” – Dealing with Obstacles

John Ellsworth, Success Strategies

During one of my recent business trips to California, I entered a gas station and, much to my dismay, I found that 1/3 of the gas pumps were blocked off by orange cones. As a result, they were unavailable for use, and as I shared that fact with my bride of 35 years, she commented: “Half of life is blocked with orange cones, isn’t it?”


I thought, Wow! That’s an interesting comment, and it’s true, isn’t it? In fact, all positive desires seem to be loaded with challenges, don’t they? Yet, if you spend some time on these challenges, you can convert them into hurdles to be overcome. Then, just like a track star, you can, indeed, clear them.

However, what’s the best approach? Here’s how I like to handle them:

  1. Clearly outline the objective you have in mind. Where, specifically, do you want to be with regard to this goal in three years?
  2. Identify all the obstacles, i.e. the “Orange Cones” that must be faced & overcome.
  3. Next, take some serious thinking time, preferably without your cell phone or other potential interruptions, and brainstorm about how you can potentially overcome these obstacles.
  4. Write down the specific steps that you plan to take to move forward. How can you overcome the challenges that you’ll face with any worthwhile objective?
  5. And, don’t forget to determine who will be implementing these steps. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of the infamous team where “Everybody thought the task should be done, Somebody should have done it, frankly, Anybody could do it, but in the end, Nobody actually did it…”
  6. Likewise, set some specific dates by which each of the necessary action steps need to occur. A goal without a deadline is just a dream that won’t happen on its own. At best, it will just end up as a nice thought. At worst, it can end up pushing you into a rut, and a rut is nothing more than a grave with both ends knocked out. You just don’t want to go there!
  7. Ultimately, when you have clearly defined your objective, identified all potential obstacles, laid out a plan to overcome them, determined who will implement the necessary steps, and when the various steps will be completed, you must take action & move forward.

While this process may seem tedious, and we all occasionally think we can skip some of these steps, my advice is – Do yourself a favor and go through all the steps outlined above.

The next time you enter the “Cone Zone,” instead of giving up, “throw down the gauntlet” and realize, as my wonderful Bride stated, that you are in the half of life that is challenging, yet worth pursuing. I would add that you are in the best half of life, because without new challenges, you’ll either stagnate or, worse yet, go backwards.

What challenges are you looking at today in your life or business? Face them today and take yourself through the steps of this “Success Strategies Challenge.” These new challenges, especially when they point us toward our biggest goals, are the key to staying motivated and moving forward. I’ve tried it both ways, and believe me, my experience in both my own business and with Client challenges has demonstrated that this seven-step process is the best approach to follow. Sometimes when you do so, you even find additional rewards that you weren’t expecting, and remember – It’s your business!

John Ellsworth of Success Strategies offers financial consulting to dairy and farming enterprises across the U.S.  He may be contacted by email at john@success-strategies.com or by phone 209.988.8960.  More information is available at www.success-strategies.com