Golden sun is streaming into my eyes as it lights up the deep green, now golden color pines around the dock and illuminates the red Adirondcack chairs until they glow.

A shimmer of light skips across the almost mirror like surface of the lake, barely a visible wave, as the echo of loon calls bounces from shore to shore. 

The sound “plop” and a few rings in the water are from a fish that jumped as if to say “catch me if you can.”

Yesterday giant white sheets of Egyption cotton on 120 year old wooden boats danced across the lake, with the distant mountain framing a photo so beautiful it should be on the cover of a magazine. 

A Guest Who Never Left

The blessing of home ownership here on this lake was not an instant task. I came on to this lake over 30 years ago as a guest who never left, hoping one day to have the means and the rare opportunity of ownership here synchronized. 

Luck Has Nothing to Do With Anything

I used to look at those who had accomplished dreams in their lives as people who were lucky, or perhaps part of the lucky birth club. In hindsight I realize I finally accomplished a dream I set for myself 30 years earlier that finally came true. Not all things you hope for happen fast, which is why never giving up on dreams is critical. And accomplishing this required hundreds of steps, other goals and dreams that had to come true, including hundreds of failures and missteps.

Good things come to those who wait.  Though things don’t just happen by waiting. Every dream, goal requires massive action and movement toward the goal.

In the past I’ve discussed goals and dreams and the importance of manifesting what you want, but there is a critical part of that I’ve never mentioned, and is rarely ever mentioned.

Dreams often get crushed by roadblocks. 

Too often when roadblocks come we let go of our dreams because the things we were doing to accomplish that dream were ripped out from under us.

Dreams Destroyed

As a young guy I can remember the blood draining from my face, my knees going limp, my hands shaking and my eyes trying to hold back the tears when something I’d been working on for years was ripped out from under me. Suddenly I was faced with the reality that my dreams were not going to happen. It was a frightening moment and it was the first time it had ever happened to me. After all, before that life was good, things had gone well, and I never really had faced any adversity.

The Secret Ingredient

Our culture today tends to focus on goals, dreams and you can do anything you desire. Though there is much to that, we fail to acknowledge something that is one of the most important steps toward accomplishing dreams; The roadblock.

You see when I had that first major roadblock. I gave up. I got depressed. I stopped. It took me a lot of years to understand the value or roadblocks and the determination to find ways through them.

Crash and Burn

Imagine for a moment that you’re a runner going around a track at your high school. The first few times you run around the track you can’t make it all the way. You’re huffing and puffing, exhausted and sweating. Over time your lungs and muscles develop more and you can make it all the way around. Soon, with more practice you can make it around ten or twenty times. Then, just to throw you off, your coach throws in some barriers, some low hurdles you have to jump over. Because they are low, you can easily jump over them. But when she places tall hurdles you try to jump but you crash into the hurdle and fall. You try over and over unsuccessfully.

The Crowd Thins Out

You either become determined to find a way over that hurdle or you give up. As you and your classmates continue the majority give up and tell themselves they can’t do it. Others keep trying, having accidents. More drop out. Still others try, have more accidents. By now there are only three or four runners left. All eyes are on them. Everyone is rooting for them. Will they make it? Can they get over that barrier? Each keeps going, keeps trying. Then one makes it over and everyone watching cheers. You throw your hands up in the air because you conquered the barrier. It was one of the best feelings of your life.

We often look at barriers as the end of the road, yet it’s the barriers that make us stronger. 

Throwing Acid on Roadblocks

Each of us faces barriers in our lives. Most of those barriers we would rather not face, yet if we choose to give up and give in, we are defeated and see our dreams disappear. Those who keep trying may have unfortunate and difficult accidents, but if they keep it up they will find a way to get over it, around it, under it, or some way to the other side. Determination is like throwing acid on roadblocks.

No Trophies for Participation

Barriers make us stronger. Having every kid on the team get a trophy makes everyone weaker Self esteem isn’t built by having things handed to you, its built by overcoming obstacles and having the feeling of elation when you get past that barrier.

How to Get to the Top

Recently I came to the realization that the biggest winners are the ones who place barriers in their own way. Former Football star Bo Eason says that “if you want to be at the top of your game, your craft, your field, your business or industry, obstacles are the best thing you’ve got going in your favor.”

Obstacles Equal Progress

He talks about how he had a great life as a kid, wonderful summers, joyful memories, no stress. But when he decided he wanted to be the best safety in the world, everything changed. Now he had an obstacle to overcome, yet its an obstacle he had placed there himself by setting that goal. He could have continued to live a life without obstacles yet he would have never accomplished anything.

More Obstacles Equal Bigger Growth

Big dreams are tied to massive obstacles. Billionaires who started from nowhere don’t just get lucky, they work harder, they put more obstacles in their own way, and they are determined to find a way around them no matter what. 

If you want to be the best at anything you have to put more obstacles in your way and find a way to overcome them.

Big dreams have massive obstacles. They are the way to greatness.

When people see you declare big dreams, they will latch on to your vision and do what they can to help you. And to overcome barriers and live big dreams we need others to help us.

Napoleon said, “Small plans do not inflame the hearts of men.” 

Goethe said,  “Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men.”

Daniel Hudson Burnham said,  Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

Roadblocks are the way to greatness. 

Are you embracing obstacles and roadblocks?

Are you dreaming big enough to put roadblocks in your way so you can overcome them?

Do your dreams inflame the hearts of others so they will want to be enlisted to your cause?

A life well-lived is rich with experiences, with the satisfaction of having overcome obstacles, and never coasting. Challenges will keep you growing, keep you energized, and keep you mentally stimulated and young.

Will you coast or will you lay obstacles in your path to pursue great dreams?

Eric Rhoads

PS: A Big Dream Gets New Obstacles

A couple of years ago I laid a giant obstacle in my patch with a dream to teach a million people to paint. In two years we’ve made great progress but probably have only reached 10% of that goal so far. But that’s about to change. A year ago, with this goal in mind, I laid two more giant obstacles in my path, and both will be announced within the next two or three months, maybe sooner. One will place this dream in front of about 20 million people several times and the other will put us in front of more than 100 million people worldwide. Both have had major setbacks, have fallen apart, and had to be reinvented. It’s been discouraging, frightening at times, and has required me to put a lot at risk. There were times I wanted to throw in the towel, and times I lost confidence and had to coach myself back to the self confidence to keep going. I can say with confidence now that both will happen. Stay tuned, you’ll be the first to know.

PPS #2 Two 10 Year Reunions

I’ve been to most of my high school reunions accept for the last, only because I lost my drivers license and could not travel. I love reunions when I reconnect with people I’ve known for a long time (nothing quite like friends you’ve had for years) but what I don’t like about them is its a single event and then it ends.

I’ll be conducting two reunions this year and next. Each are 10 years. But instead of a single event, both will be a week or longer and time to really spend proper time with people you love. The first one is the 10 year reunion of our annual Fine Art Connoisseur Fine Art Trip (and of course we’ll pull out all the stops). We’re going to the South of France, Provence, Nice and seeing art treasures from behind the scenes. Though it’s a reunion and a lot of people who have become close, new family members are welcomed. It’s coming up in October so I’ve gotta make my flights this week. 

The other 10 year reunion will be next June for my Adirondack Publisher’s Invitational paint camp. Its just a week of painting outdoors and making new friends and seeing old ones. Its a full week and more fun that almost anything I do. I’m inviting everyone who has ever been (plus anyone who has ever wanted to come) to celebrate 10 years with us. 

It’s important to have traditions and time with friends.