Challenges are a natural part of life. It is a situation we face solely to test our abilities to handle impending changes. It is hardcoded into life’s growth system that in order to encounter growth, we go through challenges to validate our readiness for that next level. A good example is when a child goes from crawling to staggering to walking. While those represents different levels of growth, they also pose different challenges for the child, which is why various levels of supervision is needed from the parents even though the child picks himself up each time after a fall and tries again till he survives it and grows past that stage. Our ability to go through challenges and survive it brings with it changes and puts us in a position where we can transfer that know-how to others going through similar stages.
Every one goes through challenges, so also do businesses and organisations. Challenge, as a word, carries “change” in its first and last three letters! (Cha– lle-nge) which simply means there can never be a challenge without a change in it. This is applicable to real personal and business situations as well. But how do you go through challenging times to achieve the desired change? Here are five non-technical ways to do just that:
Change your perception
A challenge is either big or small, depending on the challenged. How you see a challenge is exactly how you say it and can determine how you react to it too. When faced with challenges, it is either a change has to occur to existing processes/procedures or a new change is about to take place but you have to go through such tests to assess your readiness or desire for the change. A challenge doesn’t have to be seen as a big problem that requires a big solution. Sometimes simply focusing on what needs to change or what is changing can help in reaching a solution fast and with fewer resources but first we need to see challenges as a carrier of change in order to handle it appropriately.
Change your focus
Not every one sees the change in a challenge. The word carries change and also what I call distractors (-lle-). This means in every challenge, there is change and there are distractors and you are expected to choose what to focus your energy on during challenging situations. A lot of people give too much attention to the distractors and as a result, allow it to overwhelm them till it becomes a major problem. To achieve success, we set goals. If it is not challenging, then it definitely isn’t a goal. It is your ability to focus on the changes that challenges bring, assess and act on them that will determine whether the goals you set will be accomplished or not. Distractors are only there to make you loose sight or confuse you of the goals you are set out to achieve in the first place and that is true for organizations and nations also. So first ask yourself, is my current focus on fact and figures that are making me doubt the goals I set out to achieve or simply helping me reach it? You will easily identify distractors that way and be able to switch your focus back on your goals and the changes necessary to achieve them.
Change your routine
A routine sometimes makes it difficult for people to desire change. They enjoy the status quo of doing things the way they are used to in the past. A lot of people want more out of life or a business but they are unwilling to do things that will attract such challenges in order to achieve the success they desire. Businesses go through challenges sometimes because something has to change from the ways they were used to before e.g. a fresh financial challenge might mean something has changed or needs to change in your operations and you have to look at your value chain again to determine what isn’t working as before. Doing the same thing continuously for sometime makes it less challenging after a while because you become used to a particular approach. When you determine not to be complacent with the status quo, you will encounter fresh challenges that will set you on the path towards success if you focus on the changes it needs or brings.
Change your plans
As written in my previous post on Setting Goals, change your plan more often than you give up on your goals. The moment you set a goal, challenges are readily available towards achieving it. The moment you are able to survive the challenges and achieve the goal, a new status is reached (also called a milestone). The distractors present in a challenge might make you want to give up on the goal sooner than it begins which is why a lot of people and businesses fail to grow past their current state because they change or stop setting goals due to forecasted challenges. The bigger the goal you set for yourself, the bigger the challenges and the bigger the success. To achieve anything significant, you need to set big goals and anticipate challenges with a renewed focus on changing plans if things aren’t turning out as initially envisioned.
Change what you attract
Change what you attract by staying curious and doing. Steve Job once said, “Stay hungry, Stay foolish…..Don’t settle’ because he understands what curiosity can, most times, bring to the table in such a dynamic environment. Consistent curiosity leads to discovery and every great discovery comes with its own set of challenges if acted upon e.g. a new startup idea or opportunity might come with cultural challenges or the challenge of finding the right team to work with, either of which you need to tackle. Staying curious about how your mentor turns everything he touches to a gold mine might set you on a new path towards self discovery, which will come with its own set of challenges. The most important thing in the end is the change taking place or about to happen when we take on these challenges.
The whole idea here is not to see challenges as a hindrance to fulfilment but rather as its pathway; To consistently look for challenges to tackle so as to consistently grow and develop ourselves as individuals or groups, as a company and together as a nation because every challenge carries the change we desire. The change we experience will be determined by the way we handle those challenges.
A big appreciation to all intra-and entrepreneurs out there who are adding value by taking on challenges and creating changes in ways we couldn’t have imagined before thereby making our lives more convenient, improving our economies and making our world a much better place to live. Thank you.