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A New View of Obstacles

Learning from K Street Coaching’s Gideon Culman

All of the fellows and staff standing in a large group against the wall with the RespectAbility logo all over it

Gideon Culman with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Sept. 18 – Gideon Culman runs and operates K Street Coaching®, an executive coaching firm that supports business, government and nonprofit sector leaders as they weave their ingenuity and influence into a visionary legacy. Basically, Culman helps people get to where they want to go in their careers.

Gideon Culman speaking to RespectAbility Fellows seated around a large brown table

Gideon Culman speaking to RespectAbility Fellows

Culman’s discussion with all of the RespectAbility Fellows was similar to his coaching sessions with business and government executives. As a group, we began by making a list of the things we need to succeed.

The list contained some of these words: goals, vision, determination, patience, planning, support, guidance and passion.

Then Culman asked us to start calling out obstacles that get in the way of our success: Self-doubt, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, self-criticism, lack of outside support and lack of resources.

These lists allowed us to identify the main obstacles we face and realize how we tend to view them in our lives.

“The way people tend to respond to obstacles to success is to get rid of them,” Culman said. “Trying to get rid of obstacles just reinforces them.”

Gideon Culman with RespectAbility Fellow Brilynn Rakes posing and smiling for a photo

Gideon Culman with RespectAbility Fellow Brilynn Rakes

Culman wanted us to change the way in which we view our obstacles. And he taught us how to view them in a new and less scary way. To change our perception of obstacles, we must humanize them and take away their power.

“Self-doubt doesn’t want you to fall flat on your face – it doesn’t want to see you in anguish for something you’re trying to do. It is simply trying to remind you to be safe; protecting you from failure,” Culman said.

Culman claims that when we internalize, dwell and fight our obstacles, we are actually fighting against our success. We hold ourselves back when we cannot accept obstacles or anticipate failure.

Often times there is a great desire to get rid of problems in our lives. Culman, however believes that “it’s all about dealing with each set of problems as it comes because there will always be a new set that will arise.”

In order to move forward in achieving success, we must fail and accept our obstacles as part of our journey. “If we don’t fail, how are we ever going to learn anything?” he posed to us.

Obstacles don’t need to hold you back. Instead they should be recognized and treated as normal and no big deal because no matter how hard we try to be free of them, they always are going to be around.


RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact [email protected] for more information.



Meet the Author

Brilynn Rakes

Brilynn Rakes is a Communications Fellow. She is a recent graduate from Fordham University. As a visually-impaired dancer, she was the AT&T Spotlight Performer on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars where she performed alongside Emmy-nominated dancer and choreographer Derek Hough.

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