The Obstacle Is Not The Bottleneck

You may be familiar with the saying: “The obstacle is the way”. It implies that whatever hurdles we are facing, we shouldn’t try to avoid them, as the path towards betterment is by learning to overcome that hurdle, not by dodging it. It’s also the title of a popular book by Ryan Holiday, and a sentence that I tend to agree with wholeheartedly.

But there are caveats.

Let me start by telling you a little story.

The Data Bottleneck

During the last couple of days I was working on a project which involved downloading huge amounts of data over the Internet. So big, that I didn’t have the actual capacity on my laptop. So I resorted to an old 1Tb mechanical hard-drive (server-grade, but still old tech) and a SATA-to-USB enclosure (if you don’t understand the technical terms, don’t worry, I’m just bragging).

After I put everything together, the hardware and the software, I started to download. For the first 1/3 of the volume, it went relatively well, but then something started to happen. An almost imperceptible slow down. I couldn’t tell from where it came, but what should have taken 2 days, now it was creeping towards a week.

When evening came, I left the laptop working over night and checked out the progress in the morning. To my surprise, now the estimated time was about 4 weeks. Something was definitely off.

I started to do some research, played with some software params, tested and, after a couple of hours, I came to the conclusion that the slowing down was coming somewhere from the HDD (because it was doing a lot of writing and reading at the same time) combined with the way data is transferred over USB.

At this point, I decided to switch the HDD with a more modern SSD hard-drive. Victory!

Just minutes after I restarted the download process, the estimated time dropped from weeks to days, and then from days to hours.

So, what this has to do with the topic of this blog post?

A Slow Squeeze Is Not An Obstacle, It’s A Dead End

Well, there are obstacles, and then are bottlenecks. Or, as I call them, “squeezes”.

You know, like a relationship that starts to slowly drag. You get rid of the things you used to do together, one by one, and without even realizing it, you wake up one day wondering who’s the person sitting near you.

Or your income is starting to dwindle, but not like in a crisis. Just slowly, pennies a day, until you realize one day that you can’t afford the same things you used to afford just a year ago, or that “making ends meet” is now really a matter of survival.

You can’t go through a squeeze. It will drain you out. You have to switch course. And fast.

Because the longer you stay in the squeeze the less opportunities to change you’ll have. Inertia will drag you down.

Just like I decided to switch the old HDD, which was clearly unfit for this kind of job, with a newer one, you should strive to find a way out of the squeeze.

A squeeze is not an obstacle that you have to go through, it’s a dead end.

Please avoid dead ends.

Photo by Michael Rosner-Hyman on Unsplash

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