The Obstacle Is The Way — example #64.

I’m in a hotel room. Just slept the night there. Went to bed late, woke up late. Nothing scheduled that day, so not in a rush to get going, so I just read a bit. Time passes, I don’t pay attention to the clock, and I don’t know what the checkout deadline is.

Phone rings.

« – Hello, this is the reception. We wanted to check with you if you needed any help with your luggage?
– No, I just have a small bag, thank you.
– Great. Also, we were wondering whether you had any idea on when you would be checking out?
– I’m getting ready. Down in 10 minutes.
– Perfect, thank you! »

I hang up, impressed by the quality of the service.

It was 12:02. Checkout time was 12:00.


What they wanted was getting me out of the room as soon as possible, so they could get it clean in time for the next customer to arrive.

What they said was: Can we help you with this thing that is related to the task that you may have forgotten about?

What they didn’t do is complain about the fact that customers are preventing them to properly run their business.


Everyone is working in an environment of unfair constraints. Yours is particularly difficult, I know.

But if you were to dig a little, you would realize that it’s just the same for most of people you admire and are secretly jealous of. They are working under constraints too. You can’t see those constraints because they have done a great job at hiding them. They just flipped them around and made it part of the solution. They turned the obstacle into a path.


As a product manager/designer/marketer, the constraints around you are not the reason why you can’t do your job — they are the reason why you’re here. If these constraints weren’t there, they wouldn’t need to hire someone to deliver an excellent experience despite those circumstances.

The obstacle is the way. Your constraints are a blessing.

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