Barriers all around you

High Voltage Keep Off sign on chain link fence by electrical gearLook around you. Barriers everywhere; walls, power cable jackets, product cases, car dashboards – they just go on and on. They get in your way constantly, but often in a good way that isolates you from danger, isolates your food from contamination and isolates your home from weather, theft, snooping and intrusion.

Think about it. At home or in the office, inches away from your skin are electrical conductors carrying Exposed bathroom power outlet wiringpower that would burn or kill you, pipes carrying hot water or steam that would scald you and so much more…  But barriers placed by electricians, plumbers, construction contractors, autoworkers, production workers, engineers and others protect you from these dangers inches away 24/7.

These barriers in our homes, offices, computers and appliances make life easier for us, and far less dangerous. They are so useful, we may consider them essential. So electrical codes, fire codes, standards and laws require them, and engineers and building professionals ensure that they are in place, tested, inspected and ready to serve us and keep us safe. Because of these barriers our safety, security, privacy, reputation and sanity are all better off.


Public barriers direct you

When you leave th building to travel by car or public transportation you encounter more barriers that isolate us from other dangers and direct us for public order. Traffic barriers, authorized TSA lines and security check at airportaccess barriers, gates, doors and security access systems are among these systems.

You find yourself protected, constrained and blocked by public barriers almost everywhere you go. This is a natural consequence of civilized life, especially in busy urban centers and hubs.

These public barriers expand and evolve as technology advances and new risks emerge in society. These forms of social isolation and direction with barriers have developed new sets of rules for interaction, etiquette and social behavior. To a growing extent, our grasp of the rules, restrictions and expectations related to barriers is a critical part of our competence as travelers and citizens.


Trouble with barriers

Are you sometimes frustrated with barriers? I am. While architectural barriers, personnel barriers and public barriers perform critical functions, they all come with drawbacks. Barriers, by their very nature, get in the way. They delay your progress, force detours and slow you down, consuming your time and energy.

The busier you are and more critical is your time, the more frustrating barriers can be. In addition to this, the most populated, wealthy and advanced places generally have the most extensive collection of barriers. This is true of physical barriers, organizational barriers and administrative barriers to change like laws, codes, standards and bureaucratic institutions. This infrastructure of barriers, isolation systems and rules can be oppressive to the most creative, inventive and entrepreneurial people and organizations, because they block or slowdown changes, including new business and technology.

It is because of the barriers to change presented by the old infrastructure and established businesses, political groups and other institutions that the most innovative technologies and businesses are called disruptive. For rapid growth in sectors like ride-share (Uber & Lyft) and homestay (airbnb & VRBO), businesses and technologies must find ways past many barriers that impede progress.

Because the richest, largest, most established economies have the strongest infrastructure and the most barriers, they have the greatest resistance to change. So, while great infrastructure has many advantages to a technology business, the resistance to change is a big impediment. For this reason, some innovative new technologies are adopted and grown far more quickly in developing economies than in economic powerhouses like the US and the EU. This may be seen as a big opportunity for strong technology businesses in the developing world, and a big vulnerability for first world economies.


Barriers for fluids

The barriers in buildings, public places and appliances mostly are barriers to people. Another critical type of barrier is the barrier that blocks flow of fluids to isolate liquid or gas. These barriers include fuelShiny stainless steel tanks in an indoor process area. tanks, pressurized refrigeration systems, dams and space suits. These barriers protect workers from toxic and irritating materials. They isolate explosive and inflammable liquids and gases from the oxygen in air to avoid explosion.

Without these barriers, every car or bus ride would be a high risk game of fire and explosion avoidance. Commercial airline flights would be impractical. Air conditioning would be nearly impossible, and healthcare for highly contagious patients would be so high risk as to be nearly impossible. Of course we do have dams, pressurized aircraft hulls, refrigerators, ovens, sewage systems and thousands of other flow-isolated systems based on fluid barriers. The scientific and industrial aspects of fluid isolation, sterile processing and special atmosphere isolation barriers are covered in more detail on the Barriers page of this website.


Life Barriers

In addition to physical, administrative and infrastructural barriers mentioned above the life barriers to personal change and achievement are worth mentioning. These are seldom strictly legal or physical constraints, though those can be important factors.

The most prominent life barriers are those we place on ourselves and our family members. Social, moral, religious, societal, developmental, economic and discriminatory barriers can be formidable and in some cases terribly challenging to cross, but our self imposed barriers are nearly always the most important. Human beings, even those with disabilities and other impediments are capable of nearly unlimited problem solving and achievement. Often, limitations we see as imposed by family, employers, society or others are barriers that hold us back. But even when these expectations and obligations are massively burdensome, they rarely are legal obligations we cannot modify or challenge.

In the final analysis, most of these barriers are choices and not obligations, so they are truly self imposed. If you wonder about what you could achieve “if only I didn’t have to…” then consider the exercise of playing out what would happen if you ignored or abandoned the barrier condition you feel traps you. This may be a situation that would end your life or freedom, but usually it is not. If it limits you from great things, consider what bypassing that barrier would mean. This is a worthwhile exercise since you only get one life, and it is your choice what to do with it.

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6 thoughts on “Your Essential Barriers & Troublesome Ones

  • By Jeff - Reply

    Loved your take on the different barriers that protect, shield, annoy, and drag us back. I think that this subject should be taught at schools, especially the emotional barrier that hold so many people back!
    Is there is a special barrier we can use to shield ourselves against politics and political correctness which is seemingly out of wack, today?
    Cheers, Jeff.

    • By SteveT - Reply

      Yes, there are all manner of barriers to shield ourselves, but they must be used carefully. If not, we wind up so isolated from those who think differently that we are politically impotent.

      I think those who choose isolated lifestyles, but still manage to engage a wide range of friends and family can live a more balanced and healthy life. This still doesn’t solve the political polarization issues completely, but at least it moves things in the right direction.
      Thanks for joining the conversation, Jeff,

  • By Austin - Reply

    This is awesome. I feel like there are so many different things that stop me from being able to improve myself. I especially loved how you said that barriers are usually put in place by ourselves. We are the only reason we can’t succeed in anything we do in life.

    • By SteveT - Reply

      Yes, barriers are all around us. For our own good and sometime to our detriment, but the most important ones are generally the ones of our own making and the ones that give us an excuse for not moving on. An important value in thinking about isolation is learning to plan our way along and around barriers to our progress. Thanks for joining the discussion Austin.

  • By Phildora Perez - Reply

    Steve this is such an awesome topic that you have covered very well. You know, I like to perceive barriers
    as stepping stones. This is the best approach in order to get your creative juices flowing. How else can
    one expand and discover what’s on the inside of who you are created to be. This is definitely seeing the
    glass half-full and taking what is negative (barriers) and how you can see around those perceived or otherwise
    nuisances. Cases in point, look at how and where Google started, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram.

    Instead of hindrances (barriers), these originators found ingenious ways to split barriers wide open, knock them over, or ignored them and created something greater with global impact! For the Internet Marketer, this opens
    up millions of ways to solve a problem and create a demand for those solutions. Cha-ching!

    • By SteveT - Reply

      I like your positive perspective, Phildora. Best if barriers don’t keep you from your goal, but somehow create opportunities. Of course too many of them are valuable or essential, so breaking through them is only a good option some of the time. Otherwise, without the dams and levies that protect us, most of us would suffer the same fate as refugees from hurricane Harvey are faced with now. Barriers can be very good things, if we use them wisely and don’t give up.

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