Yesterday, I heard this: “The challenges want you to win, so you must persist.”
I immediately noted it because it was an interesting way to look at just about everything. It seemed so simple, but also delivered a shift in he way I, and most of my clients, view a challenge.
Typically, we tend to look at a challenge and think about how we will get around it, or conquer it, using thoughtful logistical actions. Jan was great at tiptoeing around her challenges until she had so many unresolved issues they began building a wall around her. It was hard for her not to feel the pressure. It was like avoiding a lie that came up everyday.
Jan felt she needed to start unraveling the details to get to the heart of her problems, but they felt so complicated. If she could just take a few issues away, she’d create a doorway to get out, or climb over the crap and leave it all behind – for real. The details of her life took tons of energy every day. Needless to say, her “avoidance of challenge” process used so much energy it basically kept her imprisoned in her problems.
It was all in her mind though. Thinking, thinking, thinking; but not feeling what a “win” might deliver to her – even a little one. Let me explain, she hated her job. She wanted to quit. But when she discussed it with her husband the discussion went off into all the outcomes her resignation might bring. It just didn’t seem possible to actually resign, and so all the things they discussed kept floating around in her mind as if they were barriers to everything she wanted.
Don’t get me wrong, quitting a job in today’s world requires planning. And living beyond your means because it feels good isn’t what I’m advising. In a coaching session, when a client is stuck in the cement of a mind fuck (sorry!), finding just one teeny tiny step in the direction they desire is a win. It’s the path to overcoming the challenge.
I’ve done this myself. I spent years stepping toward what I do right now. It became my reality. A coach who coaches herself has a fool for a client – as any good lawyer knows! But one small step at a time, breaking down the barriers, works. Jan just needed to get started. And every step of the work brings more confidence, more freedom, more ideas, and more fun!
John’s modus operandi was to muscle his way through and hope his challenge turned into something manageable, or something that would just go away. This clear avoidance technique is pure denial. Again, a ton of personal energy is zapped. The tricky thing here is that since you’re “muscling through” that ton of energy feels like your doing something right, and each day that passes becomes an accomplishment. But the problems remain. Muscling through brought John no acceptance of the challenges, therefore no solutions ever came.
As the poet CS Lewis wrote, “with the possible exception of the equator, everything begins somewhere.” It’s at that moment in time when you know it all needs to shift and you decide to DO ONE THING to allow that shift to begin.
Think about this. There’s a challenge in front of you. Everybody has one (or two or three!) so pick a challenge, any challenge.
Envision your win. Imagine you have conquered this challenge. You’re done and it feels great! Now, seriously, take one minute; seriously, one minute. Set a timer if you must, and think about this: How did you get from here to there?
See your new reality.
Imagine the specifics of that route.
Work it backwards.
Here’s the REAL challenge.
Can you trust yourself to take on something different?
Will you take the time to really think about how this plays out?
It’s your work to do. I’ve done it, and coached others who’ve done it. If you’re ready for your challenge, don’t underestimate the power of your own vision, it wants you to win.