People Are Not Problems, They Are Opportunities

Marcus Aurelius wrote that “people are our proper occupation. Our job is to do them good and put up with them.” Of course, our fellow citizens don’t always make that so easy. Sometimes, they make it really, really hard. As Marcus writes in the passage that would inspire the phrase “the obstacle is the way,” other people can get in our way, they can attack us, they can be selfish, they can mess things up, they can elect terrible leaders that the rest of us have to live under. This might seem frustrating and problematic, but it really isn’t.


Because we can adjust and adapt. We can use it as an opportunity. An opportunity to be nicer, to forgive, to have a tough conversation, to try something different. That’s what he means when he says “that which is an impediment to action is turned to advance action. The obstacle on the path becomes the way.”

Remember that today when other people impede or disrupt what you’re trying to do. They aren’t causing you problems. They are providing opportunities. And it’s your job to make good on them.

Also if you want a reminder of this idea, we have a few “The Obstacle is the Way” posters available, made from our collaboration with the amazing artist, Joey Roth.

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