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What Stands in Way is the Way

–Featuring Dr. Aileen Curtin

The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.

~Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor (121 – 17CE)

It takes courage to be an Authentic Leader like Marcus Aurelius, who over two thousand years later is still quoted and deeply admired for his leadership abilities and his wisdom to utilize obstacles as creative opportunities to advance and build a great nation.

As I reflect back on my career path, I now realize how every impediment and obstacle I experienced propelled me to action and ultimately guided me to the work I do today.

As a new immigrant to the USA, I encountered many impediments at the beginning of my new life in the New World. One of the obstacles getting in my way at that time was gaining admission into Graduate School. My degree from Ireland and the administrative rules and regulations during that time were standing in my way of getting into a Graduate Degree Program in Counseling.

I had my heart set on and wished to pursue only this Master’s degree in counseling. The only options presented to me at that time (if I wished to pursue that particular graduate program), at that institution, was to complete another Bachelor’s Degree and reapply to the Graduate program many years later. I was 34 years old at the time and completing yet another Bachelor’s degree did not feel right to me.

However, the denial into that particular program led me to reconsider other ways to get into different Graduate Schools. I took the “no” at that time as an opportunity to take a different career course in my life via a different graduate degree program. Less than two years later, with a Master’s Degree, I was accepted into a Ph.D. program and focused my attention away from Counseling to Research and Educational Administration.

The new way led me to a very successful career in Higher Education for 18 years (Teacher Education, Researcher, Textbook author, and the creation of degree programs) and prepared me for the work I now do today at illli.org. Looking back on my life I now see that all the obstacles I encountered back in the 1990’s guided me onto the path of Higher Education and prepared me for my role as Dean of Education and co-creating illli.org with Rev. Dr. Temple Hayes.

Though I never took the original route into licensed counseling I eventually found other ways to satisfy my soul’s needs to help and encourage others. I found another way I be present for others who may just need someone to talk to or listen to them. I now spiritually counsel as an Ordained Minister. As a Reiki Master, Certified Professional Life Coach, and as an E-RYT 500 Yoga Instructor, I guide meditations, teach Yoga, motivate and encourage people to make positive changes in their lives.

I now see how spirit guided me and illumed every step of my way. I can now affirm the times of greatest difficulty and struggle in my life were in fact the times when I was most definitely guided to a new way; guided on my soul’s path journey.

  • As a leader do you respond or react to obstacles?
  • Do you blame others and move into victimhood?
  • Do you use what is in the way to get in the way of your peace and ability to move forward?

Go within and trust that everything in the universe is really for you even the seeming obstacles or situations that you may be experiencing right now.​

See the person, place, or situation as showing you the way rather than succumbing to blame and victimhood. Tell yourself the obstacles (persons, places, and situations) are your guiding light and the only way is to keep moving forward.

Change the narrative and STOP bemoaning the obstacle in your life. Instead, retell the story of how your obstacle is showing you a new way and moving you forward in our life on a new and different path; a path you would never have considered otherwise.

✅ Notice and pay attention to what is in your way. Acknowledge that the very obstacle in your way (without going towards blame or shame or victimhood) may be saying “not now, keep going and keep exploring, you are finding your way.”

Wake up. What if this obstacle is moving you to action? What actions are you guided to take?

Be patient; remember “what stands in the way becomes the way” as Marcus Aurelius said or as I like to tell myself “is the way”.

Trust that “What is for you will never pass you.” (My favorite quote from my dear friend Marie in Ireland).

See your obstacles guiding you forward on your life path and soul’s journey. What stands in your way is showing you the way-be open and see it will take you further than you could ever have imagined.


Dr. Aileen Curtin demonstrates and explains how to shift our consciousness from victimhood to the highest Christ consciousness using examples and stories from her own life and her experiences as an educator, spiritual teacher, and minister. Awaken and grow your spiritual awareness in her dynamic course Reawakening your Inner Metaphysician.
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Institute For Leadership and Lifelong Learning International
Institute For Leadership and Lifelong Learning Internationalhttps://illli.org/
Calling all Difference Makers! The Institute for Leadership and Lifelong Learning International offers lifelong learners practical and powerful courses, and our integrative spiritual leadership program provides guidance and a clear path to leadership for those who are called. The vision and mission of the Institute is to shift the education paradigm beyond the brick and mortar models. The needs of communities around the world are fast outgrowing the number of credentialed spiritual leaders. In an effort to meet the demand of growing communities to create their own spiritual communities, the courses offered at the Institute empower others to step up and into their roles as leaders in their respective communities around the world.

3 COMMENTS

  1. We see our failures, or the simple obstacles of life, as “signs of destiny”. The truth is that it is we who give meaning to everything that surrounds us or happens to us. We can therefore choose to see a failure as a tombstone on our projects, or we can choose to get up, to try again, maybe find an alternative way, a better way.

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