Contributor: Mark Ferreira
“Life can be a rocky road. The challenge is not to let it grind you into dust but to polish you into a brilliant gem” –John Milton Fogg.
If we choose wisely and force ourselves to remember, any challenge, either personal or professional, can be used as a catalyst for success.
When we are faced with a situation we perceive as a challenge, it is not necessarily the truth. People make up challenges for themselves in their mind – to serve their own needs, to justify themselves, or to use the challenge as a learning experience.
When we accept that challenges are not necessarily the truth, we can choose whether to entertain them or not. This means we can choose to disregard any challenges that fail to empower us or don’t serve our ultimate purpose.
However, if we choose to respond to a challenge and get the most out of it, here is what it can do for us.
- It makes us stronger by exercising our mental and emotional muscles.
- It hones our intuition and judgment in handling unexpected situations.
- It feeds our desire to excel and conquer self through reflection, analysis, and purposeful action.
- It strengthens our belief system, replacing doubt with faith.
- It shifts our attitude and shapes our mind so we become “architects of our future” instead of being “prisoners of the past.”
- It teaches us resilience, delayed gratification, humility, and builds character.
To face challenges with courage and objectivity, we must first learn to accept the situation for what it is. It’s easy to approach a challenge with a knee-jerk reactions of shock, anger, disbelief or sheer helplessness. Therefore, we must allow ourselves the courtesy of time and space to fully comprehend the true nature of the threat, to determine whether it is real or not, or if there are any other circumstances, such as jealousy, misunderstanding, or any other personal agenda.
We must learn the art of detachment to soundly handle ourselves, and the situation, and respond accordingly to gain mastery over any challenge. Here is a short story to put things in perspective.
There was once a king in India who was facing many burdens during his rule. He had so many challenges to overcome that he found himself overwhelmed and unable to manage.
He sought counsel from a court adviser who suggested that he go into the forest to see a wise old sage. After trekking through the dense forest for a few hours, the king reached the spot and noticed the sage was deep in meditation.
When the sage finally opened his eyes, he looked at the king, smiled, and said, “I know why you have come.” He said, ” Do you see that rock there? Pick it up with both hands and place it in front of your eyes.“
The king did so and placed the rock in front of his eyes. The sage asked the king, “What do you see?” The king replied, “I see the rock and nothing else.“
The sage smiled and said, “Please extend both arms in front of you while still holding that rock. Now what do you see?” Comprehension dawned on the king as he responded, “I see the rock – and everything around and beyond it as well.”
Just like the king, we tend to get so deeply immersed into our problems that we fail to detach by giving ourselves the relevant time and space to assess the challenge and choose an appropriate response.
If we learn to simply use this one tool of detachment and reflect on the nature of the particular challenge, we will always be able to respond objectively. The better our choice of response to any situation, the better our chance to secure a favorable outcome to meet our own end. I call this freedom of choice.
In any personal relationship, there may be times or situations where we push each other’s buttons. Let’s say your partner says or does something to provoke a reaction in you. He is creating the “stimulus,” and the normal knee-jerk reaction is to snap back.
However, if you exercise your freedom of choice, by creating time and space around that stimulus, your response might be very different. You may actually consider the point your partner was making and objectively respond with, “Thank you for bringing this up. I did not realize it affected you in this way.”
Practiced with discipline, controlling the space between the stimulus and response can do three things for us:
- We begin to reinvent ourselves positively;
- When we change ourselves for the better, we begin to influence change in our immediate circle which radiates outward;
- As we begin to influence change around us, we slowly begin to alter our destiny.
Putting a positive spin on challenges is a conscious choice we can learn to master. With a disciplined approach, we can accept each situation, become aware of our need to change, respond with objectivity, and overcome our emotions through understanding that we always have freedom of choice.
MARK FERREIRA is a network marketing leader from India who heads up an organization of several hundred thousand distributors in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He is also an international tennis champion and innovative entrepreneur in other business sectors.