There are many ways to grow your abilities and your competence, and also to increase your level of success, including your potential for larger earnings. One good way is to systematically look for and take on challenges.
This is because some of the biggest opportunities for success and growth come from new and oftentimes difficult, sometimes extremely personal, challenges.
Here are some ideas on how to incorporate more challenges into your work and your life:
Spot the Challenges
Challenges are all around you, but they may not be as obvious as your boss handing you a tough assignment or your house catching on fire.
Aside from those that grab your attention, you can find new, interesting, and important challenges in several different ways, such as:
Dream Big: If you let your imagination run free, you may be able to describe a situation, a life, or a world you’d like to see made real. There’s a good chance that trying to realize that dream would bring you up against one or more formidable obstacles. These obstacles may well constitute challenges you would want to accept.
Look for Business Opportunities: The way we do business on this planet involves four main elements: a “value proposition,” some “resources,” some “processes,” and a “profit formula.” You can identify these elements in pretty much anything that goes on around you. If you can come up with a way to improve or even favorably vary one of these elements, doing so might constitute a challenge you’d want to accept.
Follow Your Path: Looking toward your own future may bring to mind both obstacles and opportunities you may reasonably expect to encounter in days, weeks, months, or years to come. Preparing for and dealing with any of these are likely to present you with a variety of challenges, any one of which might fill the bill for you to take on and grow.
Of course, these are only a few of the many pathways to discovering challenges that may interest you.
Grade the Challenge
Just like eggs or oranges, challenges come in many shapes and sizes. There are also quality considerations that differentiate challenges, such as those that offer significant growth and uplift opportunities and others that are primarily about maintaining the status quo or avoiding negative consequences.
If you find a single challenge you’d like to confront, you don’t need to grade it. Just attack it. But if you have several on the table, your might want to consider the following criteria for selecting which challenge to tackle first:
- It’s within your expertise and competence.
- It’s tangible enough to allow for a clear, objectively recognizable solution.
- You have control over (or at least can access) the resources needed to tackle it.
- You can see and appreciate the situation as it will become after you’ve beaten the challenge.
Confront the Challenge
Having selected a suitable challenge, give yourself all the benefits that come with attacking and possibly overcoming it (sorry, you won’t win them all!). Every challenge is different, of course, but the central methods for confronting challenges include:
Have courage: If challenges were easy, they wouldn’t be challenges and someone else would already have overcome them. So a key part of successfully confronting a challenge is preparing to face scary possibilities without backing down.
Persist: Most challenges resist simple, easy, quick attempts to overcome them. That’s another characteristic of challenges. As part of accepting the challenge, make a commitment to persevere through a series of attempts that result in failures or only partial successes.
Handle the emotions: Many challenges contain at least some component of personal issues. Maybe you’ve never done this before. Maybe it requires combating a fear, enduring some pain, or making a sacrifice. You’re not a robot, so be ready to manage yourself as well as the facts of the challenging situation.
Make a plan: Overcoming a challenge usually requires considerable effort, resources, time, and energy. You may have to coordinate with others and perhaps find new solutions to old problems. All this is easier when you have a roadmap helping you identify where you’re going and how to get there.
Taking on challenges offers many benefits. One is the advantage of simply being in the improved situation you will have created by overcoming the challenge. But whether or not you succeed, you’ll benefit from the competence and confidence you’ll develop, just from the effort, that will enable you to do better when you tackle the next challenge.
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