When you are facing a challenge, do you focus on the obstacle or can you be inspired by what you’re about to learn now?
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Short, sharp blog today about something I think we all encounter from time to time. Facing a challenge.
I remember a simple story I heard which I could relate to so well when I was at boarding school as a boy.
As a little bird flying north in pursuit of bigger and better dreams starts to get into the colder zones of the northern hemisphere, it finds itself getting colder and colder, until eventually it can’t continue and is forced to land in a farmyard. While it is sitting there shivering and wondering what to do in this challenging situation, a cow walks past and drops a huge pooh on the little bird. Petrified at first, and struggling to free itself from this mess, the bird realizes how warm it is, and after a while starts to relax a little and before long it is singing with gratitude and joy. The local farmyard cat investigating this foreign sound finds an easy prey and that’s where the story finds its sad end (for the bird at least). Except for the couple of rather simplistic morals it held for the story:
- Not everyone that “dumps on you” is your enemy.
- Not everyone that rescues you is your friend.
- When you are “in the pooh”, its best you keep quiet.
Albeit a little colloquial, for which I ask your forgiveness, you can imagine these “lessons” holding quite true for a mischievous boy at boarding school, can’t you?
The Learnings for Facing a Challenge
However, what can we learn from this in respect of facing a challenge? They can appear in any form at any time in our life and work, right? How do we deal with them? How much do we let them affect us? Some people are able to simply “brush them off” whilst some of us allow them to really mess up our day or even worse, let them affect how we feel about ourselves.
What I have learned since then is that when faced by a challenge (not a life threatening one, of course) that Using “the gap” to reframe yourself we have discussed before can help us pause to find the best perspective to respond to the challenge. However, depending on the gravity of the challenge, I found it sometimes needed more than that in order to avoid us taking it too personally or allowing it to affect us too much.
- I’ve understood that challenges are just something unfamiliar at that point in time. Something we haven’t experienced before. Otherwise we’d know what to say or do and they wouldn’t be a challenge, would they?
- I learned to tell myself in the midst of the “situation” that no matter how bad I see this or how bad I feel about this right now, in 5 minutes it will already feel different and in an hour or so I will already look back on it quite differently. Certainly by tomorrow.
- I also tell myself that there will undoubtedly be some new learnings in this for me, that will equip me to better deal with similar challenges in the future.
I found that these gave me courage whilst still in the challenge. New energy to respond to the challenge. The ability to see new perspectives.
In my coaching experience, I have found this technique to be of great use to many of my clients.
I hope it is of value to you on your journey.