Surmounting Obstacles By Guest Blogger David Mezzapelle

by Marilynn Halas on May 12th, 2015
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Obstacles, adversities, trials, and tribulations all have one thing in common – they are all temporary. They come and go but each time they add another milestone in the building of our knowledge base and ultimately our success. Why? Because everything in life is a learning lesson no different than when we first learned to ride a bike.

Every step we make – every success, every mistake, and every decision, good or bad – have all generated knowledge that carries us through life. The same applies to obstacles. Do you think that the world’s most successful leaders have always been on a road without speed bumps? True leaders are not just measured by their success, but they are also measured by how they dealt with obstacles and the paths they chose to surmount those obstacles as quickly as possible. For example, the lessons learned from creating the first light bulb were not all learned in its success, most of the lessons came from the thousands of obstacles and revisions it took to make it successful.

Here are some real examples from around the globe:

Alan Malizia never let obstacles stand in his way. Alan was a child stricken with polio, forced to endure painful treatments and live in and out of hospitals most of his life. Instead of complaining, Alan channeled that energy into teaching sports and education to many of us in our hometown. However, teaching wasn’t enough for Alan. He had to persevere and be the best at everything he did. In addition to being a terrific teacher, Alan earned the number one rank for coaching basketball, volleyball and other sports at our high school. He also wrote and published a book titled “The Little Red Chair” about his experiences of growing up with polio and the gratitude he has for all the people in his life from the doctors that treated him to the family, friends, and students that have always stood by his side.

Krystian Leonard never let obstacles stand in her way. Krystian grew up with lipoma tumors all over her body and endured many surgeries to get them removed. Unfortunately, the surgeries led to scars that led to self-esteem issues, which had left her feeling ashamed and broken. However, she surmounted these obstacles when she realized that she was a beautiful girl and was not going to let her scars hold her back any longer. Today, she is Miss West Virginia’s Outstanding Teen and on the path to Miss America. She also launched a nonprofit organization called “Shining Scars,” an organization dedicated to helping children persevere through any obstacle.

Joan Heller never let obstacles stand in her way either. She had mouth and throat cancer that required her to lose part of her tongue and her ability to speak normally. However, Mrs. Heller was determined to regain her speech and say “congratulations” at her son’s college graduation two years after the initial diagnoses. With that determination, Mrs. Heller realized that the best way to regain her speech would be to relearn the pronunciation of words just like a child in their early stages. And she did! She purchased a variety of children’s books and tapes and practiced until she met her goal. Well, I am happy to report that by her son’s graduation she was able to say “congratulations” in a clear, normal voice. She was also able to resume her career as a psychiatric social worker, a career that helps others and is contingent on the ability to speak.

I believe that we all have stories that can inspire others to surmount their obstacles. Just look at it this way: whether people are enduring good times or bad, just knowing that others have been in the same boat and have persevered is comforting. It spreads a message of hope. Believing in the power of stories, I have set out on a mission to connect with people from different cultures in order to obtain their life’s stories of how they confronted adversities. The goal is to spread hope especially during this time when many people have lost their zeal for life due to the obstacles they keep finding in their way; personal hardship, economic crisis, political uncertainty, etc.

What I have gained from this experience is invaluable. I learned that when a person is held back by obstacles, there is a feeling of helplessness, as if there is no end in sight. However, when that same person learns how others have persevered and surmounted similar obstacles, they have hope and believe they too can emulate those outcomes. I know that all people can be resilient.

About David Mezzapelle
David Mezzapelle is the bestselling author of Contagious Optimism, an uplifting book series and global brand that contains real stories from real people around the globe. The purpose is to help people find their silver linings no matter what they may be going through in life. After a long career in technology, Mezzapelle launched several companies and philanthropic initiatives, and he has served on various boards. Throughout his life, Mezzapelle encountered great peaks and valleys, for which he is grateful. He has always kept his glass “completely full.” Learn more about David at

Contagious Optimism, a bestselling book series. Real Stories, Real People. Learn more at

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