I love Gretchen Rubin and her blog about happiness and habits. One of Gretchen’s themes is Secrets of Adulthood. I posted this comment (with some edits here) on her blog in response to her article on Secret of Adulthood: Succeed By Failing.

When I was younger, I used to believe that if you don’t try, you can’t fail. Now I know that not trying is a bigger failure than trying and failing. You can learn something if you try and fail and then use what you have learned to improve. If you don’t try, you “learn” nothing of value, except guilt and possibly shame if you internalize it.

One of my secrets of adulthood, learned the hard way, is this:

The only way around is through and the only way through is the high road.


Part 1 – The only way around is through: In the past, when things got rough, my tendency was to look for the easy way out. Unfortunately, that’s rarely an option, particularly when others are depending on me. Instead, it’s best to persevere and change my attitude by reframing the situation.

Part 2 – The only way through is the high road: When the goal or the path is unclear, I sometimes find it difficult to put forth my best effort. However, if I don’t, I may end up hurting myself more than anyone else. It’s better to do what I believe is the right thing even if it turns out not be what is needed. At least, I will have no regrets and I (and others around me) won’t have to suffer the consequences of a haphazard effort.

These days, when I find an obstacle in my path, I prefer to see it as opportunity to get creative and use it to my advantage. And no matter what the situation, I know that I will not regret it if I always endeavor to do good work.

The title of this post is a hat tip to Ryan Holiday’s excellent book, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph.