Having a well-structured process to tackle any challenge rising up on our way can make the difference between walking proudly with joy through our life or tumbling from one disaster to the next.
Although the word “process” does not sound so exciting, and even boring, having that process and improving it continuously makes the difference between success and failure.
Therefore, we need an outline for such a systematic approach to tackle those challenges, to create a process for managing the unexpected and overwhelming twists and turns in our life.
If we want to grow ourselves into a person looking forward to challenges with joy and confidence, we must first understand those roadblocks.
- Why are they present in our life?
- Which benefits do they offer?
- Why do we fear them?
Definition of Challenge
What is a challenge? For the purpose of this podcast episode, I want to define challenge as a powerful barrier on our path, without an obvious way to overcome it.
Challenges show often unexpectedly up and without invitation. But sometimes we know very well that a certain problem will pop up somewhere on our way, and that we do not yet have a solution.
How do I know it is a Challenge?
So, we are walking along the path of our life, trying to reach our next goal or landmark, and wow: an obstacle springs up and forces us to stop immediately. It forces us even to turn one or two steps back and look for cover. This is the handshake of a challenge, the way it says “hello.”
It could come in the guise of a huge mountain, a fast-moving river blocking our way, or an angry crowd of people demanding we should not dare to be and behave differently than they do.
A challenge is powerful and interrupts us, wrecks our beloved routine. We do not understand challenges always in full, but they bring certainly fresh color and energy into our life.
Why do we have challenges in our life?
Challenges are our opportunities to gain experience and to grow. When we are ready for them, and only when we are ready for them, the spiritual sphere – be it in form of our soul or God himself – throw those obstacles into our way.
Therefore, challenges are both: they are a sign that we have grown to the next level, and they are a request and invitation to move on, stretch again and grow further.
The First Steps to Tackle a Challenge at Hand
Now, we arrived at this fresh and overwhelming roadblock. How to respond? We might tend to become angry, because our plan does obviously not work out as expected. But that would be very wrong. Keep your cool and take a deep breath. Then, say hello to this new opportunity for growing.
Welcome the Challenge
Welcoming the challenge seems counterintuitive. But appreciating it means telling the new task something like: “Hi, nice to see you. Let us have fun together. How can I help you, and how do you want to help me?”
Every problem coming along our way contains an opportunity for us to grow and to learn. Even if we do not yet know the contents of the opportunity and lesson we are going to receive, we should be curious and open-minded.
Hiding or trying to run away from the challenge will not help. Both, our soul, and God are persistent, when they offer us a lesson and ask us to stretch. If we reject challenges, they will return under a new guise.
So, the best attitude is loving those challenges.
Love your challenges, because…
- they signal, that you have grown to the next level
- they help you to move on and continue growing
- the very fact, that a certain challenge pops up in front of you tells you that you can master it
Welcoming someone does not mean just saying “hi,” then turning around and moving on. Be curious. Ask: “Where are you coming from? What made you show up, here and now? What is your purpose, your intention? Then, take a bit time and open up for the awe, for the new energy you can feel around you.
Notwithstanding all the fascination with that new facet of your life, do not allow yourself to be carried away. Start moving around with a respectful distance, circle it. Try to look at it from all sides, from the left and from the right, from the top and from the bottom. At times, you might retreat one or two steps, so that you do not miss the big picture over all those fresh details. Invite the challenge even for a small dance, and do not be too much in a hurry.
After interacting with the challenge enough, it will finally reveal its mission to you, hand over its precious gift. And then it will wave its magic ward and transform you into a slightly stronger person, blessed with additional germs of wisdom.
To Tackle a Challenge Opens up its Gift
Whenever you encounter a challenge but refuse to tackle it and try instead to run, you reject the gift it has on offer. This is wasteful.
The gift is threefold:
Improving your understanding of yourself
Your environment does mirror you, and so does your new challenge. As it is now part of your environment, the challenge carries certainly a story about you. Listening to such stories pays, even if their messages look sometimes in the beginning not so lovely. Embrace that message, because it will help you enhance your ability to see, feel. understand, and upgrade yourself and your relationship with your world.
Refining your understanding of the world
Refining our understanding of the world is closely related to understanding ourselves, because our environment mirrors our energy.
But on the other hand, they are not the same. We decide, which space we are living in and with whom we share our time. But that does not mean, that we are our bedroom, and the people around us are certainly distinct from ourselves.
Nevertheless, people experience vastly different worlds, even if they live in the same condominium or use the same train on their way to work. In this sense, understanding your own world, and knowing how and why it is so different from the worlds of the people around you will tell you much about yourself.
If you would rather live in your neighbor’s world, it makes good sense to look, what he is doing differently, where he thinks, feels, and behaves differently.
Often, a challenge comes up because people around you reject the way you think or behave. This is a message to you. Ask in such cases yourself if you would rather be like them. In this case, heed their message. But often, challenges arise from people, who want to hold you back from your journey and have you stay in their restricted world. In that second case, the message contained in your challenge asks you to let those people go. In the end, it is up to you to decide, which one is your world.
Seeing Yourself Grow
In most cases, a new challenge is also a sign, that you have been growing recently. That neighbor, whose world you would rather share, would not have you allowed a glimpse inside his world if you would not have qualified for that.
And your old friend, who wants to hold you back and tells you to remain as you have been, would not have to take that trouble if you were not about to grow out of your old world.
Understanding the Message
A barrier in your life does not necessarily mean, that you have to conquer it. You might encounter a message from your soul, that you should reconsider your direction. Therefore, do not run blindly against every resistance showing up on your way. If you find resistance, examine, and explore it. Weight it. Look for the message it has to tell you. Then decide how to heed that message, because such messages are the fundamental rewards we receive if we tackle that challenge.
Help is Available to Tackle the Challenge
After understanding, that every challenge contains a message sent to us, we need to learn how to parse that message.
The best thing: helpers are available. Here is a list of such helpers. Allow them to do their job!
- Your Conscious Mind. Your conscious mind will help you to pick up the obvious. It will know, what you did, and what results you got. Your conscious mind will help you to avoid the most obvious errors, and it will check the plausibility of the suggestions and hints coming from a huge variety of sources.
- The Subconscious Mind. This is arguably the most important tool at your disposal when a need to tackle a challenge arises. The subconscious mind connects all experiences and information coming from your senses together, looking for patterns and meaning between them. While the subconscious mind serves up hidden truths and subtle patterns, it is up to your conscious mind to validate them and make them actionable. Allowing this pair working together instead of playing them against each other provides a huge comparative advantage.
- Your Soul. This is the master of your life, the one providing purpose, mission, and energy. Your soul decided to build a body, and she devises a life for you providing the experiences she needs to grow. It is quite possible, that some of your challenges are messages and interventions from your soul, guiding you on the way she intended for you. If you are looking for a happy life, full of vibrant positive energy, you better listen to your soul.
- Peers. Those are people moving along the same path with you, and often they try to tackle a similar challenge. Some peers are a bit more advanced while others walk a bid behind you. But they all are on a comparable way. By sharing your path with them, you can observe your own progress. They allow you also to get an early idea, what to expect next and where to take care.
- Leaders. They are people, who have gone through similar experiences. They managed to understand similar challenges on their own way and converted them from a barrier into a launch pad. If you find leaders, observe them, and ask them how they did it, they can be a major help in turning challenges into assets.
- God. One of the best kept secrets of life is this: Whenever you ask God for help, he will respond. Although God does not take orders from humans and helps sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways, he will not let you down. On the other hand, if you remain silent, God will remain silent, too. He will never force himself into your life.
The Process to Tackle a Challenge
We can conclude that the main function of challenges in our life is conveying messages to us. Those messages might come from our soul, our environment, or sometimes even from God. We can turn challenges into assets by exploring their messages, then understanding and heeding what we hear. Such messages may relate to topics like…
- understanding our environment
- understanding ourselves
- skills we need to build
- goals we need to refine
- adapting our path to those goals
This list is obviously not exclusive. Add, whatever may apply to your own life.
Access as much information as possible
After encountering a challenge, collect in a first step all information available. For this purpose, you need an open mind, curiosity. Just collect all information available and send it to your subconscious mind.
Allow your subconscious mind to work
The next step is calming down and allowing your subconscious mind connecting everything you passed to it with related information and experiences you encountered already in your life. Remain confident and fearless, but also calm and cautious.
Retrieve the response from your subconscious mind
After giving your subconscious mind enough time to crunch the information, retrieve its results. This works best in kind of brainstorming sessions. It often involves journaling, at least write down on paper, what your subconscious mind serves up. Try to get it all, and do not filter it.
Validate the input from subconscious mind and outside sources
Step number four validates the responses and hints coming from your subconscious mind. Look also for people who faced similar challenges before, or for professionals who saw and supported others going through similar experiences. Combine the outside input with the input from your subconscious mind.
If that brings clarity, plan to act. If not, send the whole bundle back to your subconscious mind.
Execute your plan
Next, execute your plan. Do it carefully, diligently, and step by step. Here, you need to combine focus with openness, because you need to know, what you are doing and then you need to listen carefully to the response provided by the challenge.
Review the results
Observe the results of your action and send this feedback back to your subconscious mind. Retrieve additional input from the subconscious mind. Validate everything again and combine it with additional outside sources of skills, knowledge, and wisdom.
If you use this process to tackle challenges, it will take only few rounds and you will be well on top of them, ready to move on to your next milestone.
This is the manuscript of episode twenty-four of the podcast Success and Inner Growth. After this episode, I will change the format of the podcast to include interviews with interesting guests. Those interviews will not be scripted, and therefore, I will not publish further manuscripts. If I find it possible and useful, I continue to post here transcripts. In the meantime, subscribe here, so that you don’t miss out on further episodes.
But this blog remains a place for me to do loud thinking, and let you look over my shoulder when developing my concepts.