Adapted from The Art of Work: How to Make Work, Work For You!
The ability and desire to embrace challenge is already deeply ingrained in your mind, whether you realize it or not.
The challenges you face are real, and so is your opportunity to not only overcome them, but to grow and to prosper in the process. You may be facing the challenges of a glass ceiling at work, huge college loan debts, children or spousal issues, or the outsourcing of your job. However, you do have the ability within yourself to succeed. one of the ways I have met personal challenges in the past is by separating the issues at hand, and that is what you are going to learn to do, too.
This means that you look clearly and critically at each of your challenges… the things you may have been referring to as problems… and list them on paper, so that you can really examine them. Few of us want to look unpleasant situations in the eye, but that is just what you have to do if you are going to change anything that you see as a challenge.
There is one thing, above all others, that I encourage you to accept as you begin to turn your challenges into your opportunities. It is: Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally. This is the first and only rule I wrote for myself the day I started my company. Today, I keep it framed in my office.
I know that approaching challenges as opportunities is what has helped humans throughout our existence to hunt for food, build transportation systems, invent medical tools and surgeries, and to discover cures.
Some of the most commonly asked questions of any applicant in the job interview process involve the challenges that person has had to overcome. Ask yourself this question, now. “What differentiates me and what I bring to the table from everyone else, to an employer?” When you answer this question, remember to assess your response through the employer’s eyes. Think of it this way. Your value to yourself and to the people who love you personally may not be based on the same qualities that an employer wants or needs from you.
This may seem elementary for me to say to you, but I have seen many people, at all levels of their career, struggle with differentiating what they value in themselves from what their employers or their co-workers are looking for in a professional relationship. You can get a pretty good idea about how well-equipped you are to look at yourself critically by asking this question of someone who does work with you, and whose opinions you generally respect. They can help you to define your differentiating value with clarity.
In order to do this effectively, you may need to overcome one of the little uglies that human beings across the world face from time to time. This is the fear of failure. In this instance, I’m referring to fear of failure in the context of being afraid to hear the truth, the fear of having your ‘failures’ exposed … to you and to someone else. That is why it is important for you to trust the person you choose to ask to comment on the list of the values you think you bring to your organization. Your best friend who works somewhere else, or your family members are not candidates for helping you to make this assessment. They may be too sensitive to your feelings to give you harsh but necessary objectivity, or they may truly be too blinded by the personal feelings they have for you to see you in any different light. You can engage a trusted co-worker or use your regular evaluations with your supervisor to probe a bit on your own.
Just remember, regardless of whether you are on the mark, or not, fear of failure can be one of the challenges that you may become most proud of overcoming!
You might enjoy knowing that this is one of the exercises that I continue to do for myself. At least twice a year, I do this with someone who works for me, and with someone who works beside me on one of the boards I am on. Like you may be, I am always a little nervous about what response I am going to get, and from time to time, I will make sure I ask that person right after I’ve done something I think is really terrific. However, the strength of their honesty is what makes the exercise valuable, because my timing never seems to influence their integrity!
Building your knowledge of, and confidence in, your true value is what is going to help you to welcome the challenges you identify as important to overcome in order to succeed at whatever it is that you want to do.
Perhaps you know someone who has a challenge with smoking or drinking. They may approach the challenge by going cold turkey, changing the friends they socialize with, or getting institutional help. All of these methods can work. You may need or want to employ similar tactics depending on what your particular challenges are. Regardless, you can keep yourself on the path to success by engaging this: Value every Challenge as an opportunity To Succeed. This will truly help you to enjoy your work and your life.
The lessons on overcoming challenges are taught to us from early childhood in classrooms around the world. Communities across the globe offer local success stories of overcoming challenges to achieve success. The true message is not just about struggling through hardships, or defying the odds; it is about actually valuing the process of facing challenges in the spirit of achieving success.
“Persistence beats resistance, every time!”
If you value this process, you will learn from your own experiences. Treating every challenge as an opportunity to succeed is truly an exercise in changing your mindset. It involves how you approach both your work, and your personal life. This may require that you learn to re- frame how you look at situations. It really works!
When you are working hard to create your own success, the problems you face are your own. The experiences of others are interesting and illuminating; the experiences you acquire are educational at the most intimate level, aren’t they?