Hello, everybody! You are listening to the 14th episode of Sensibly Happy podcast. This episode is about challenges and their role in our life.
You have probably asked yourself: “what makes one person more successful than another?” And this is a really valid question. Because if it’s something which we can control, we can use it in our daily life and be more successful as well. I’m convinced that there are some reusable ingredients of success. In this episode we are talking about accepting new life challenges and acknowledging our achievements and strengths.
Challenges and their role in our life
Hello, dear listeners!
You’re listening to the new episode of the podcast, which gives you practical aspects of happiness, life stories, interesting ideas, and ways to make your life happier and feel that you are really happy.
This episode is about challenges and what role they play in our life. Some of you believe that you can do almost anything, that you are ready to accept any new challenge. And it’s amazing, you can go forward quickly because you know your skills, you know your abilities, and you’re not afraid.
But let’s admit, most of us have different doubts and fears before starting anything new for us. And in most cases, we reject the idea of participating in a challenge.
Why is it happening to us? Because of the environment where we grew up. We were told not to do risky things, not to be bold; or we were told that we are not good enough, that we are not strong enough, that we are not as good as our neighbour, or classmate. We just don’t believe in ourselves!
What challenges do we face in life?
What type of challenges I’m talking about right now? I’m talking about any kind of life challenge. Be it some sports challenge, nutrition challenge, a challenge in relations where we should change ourselves to achieve better results, or be it a challenge related to your job. This is not always about the competition with someone else. This is about having some extra goal and doing extra steps to have outstanding results.
What is good about challenges?
But is it bad to avoid challenges? I believe it is really bad! Because of making such negative decisions, we avoid different opportunities which come to our life, since participating in challenges brings you a lot of benefits.
First of all, this is about self-marketing and promotion of yourself. The second benefit is that you are exploring yourself during the process. Because by having some extra goal, you’re forced to spend extra efforts and receive extra results that are new for you. And after that, you often can look back on your life and think, “I never realized I could do that! I am stronger than I thought I was!”
And the more challenges you take, the better you train yourself and understand how strong you are. And also, by setting and achieving extra goals for yourself, you meet new amazing people, you have the possibility to speak with interesting and powerful people, like your favourite player from a league. So it’s definitely worth it to take part in different challenges! Even without having first places, or without achieving the final goal.
A story about avoiding a new role
I will share with you two stories from my life, or actually recent stories from my life. And those stories are examples of how our brain can resist accepting challenges, but after we finally take part in them, we obtain some amazing results.
The first example is about a business game which I participated in a week ago. I work in a big company, and it’s a common practice to organize different training sessions or games to improve our soft or technical skills. And the game I took part in was a full-day training with 20 managers as participants in the game.
We had four different teams with five members each. And there were specific roles for each player. The legend of the game told us that we were four different companies on the market that provided IT services and that we should compete with each other to achieve the best results on the market in terms of grow-per-share.
The rules of the game were complicated. That’s why each role in the team had its own instructions and goals. Each team consisted of CTO, CMO, CFO, and so on. And after the toss of lots, it happened that I became a CFO or Chief Financial Officer. I read my instructions. And there were so many details that it scared me! I thought to myself, “I’m not able to provide the expected results for the team! And I am not good enough in it, and I will not be able to react quickly in each situation.”
So I decided to swap roles with someone else to receive, for instance, Chief Marketing Officer role. I wanted my team to win. And I wanted to choose a less responsible role not to let my team down. This swap didn’t happen, and I started to play as a CFO of the company.
At first, it was really complicated, because I had to fill in all the expenses and incomes and to fill in several reports. Part of it was completely new for me, but after the first round, I got used to it! And it appeared that our team had the best report. It was precise, and it was clean, and moreover, it reflected the real situation with money in our team. And at that moment, I realized, “Why should I be a bad CFO? I have analytical skills, I think quickly. And I like numbers!”
Our mind resists new challenges
This is how our mind together with a low self-esteem plays a bad joke on us. Because at first, it tries to reject the idea of participating in something complicated. But the situation forced me to accept the challenge. And I showed myself that I could do it really good. I showed others that I was good at it, and I was treated as a valuable part of the team. Of course, I could fail. And sometimes it happens. But every new success overscores negative results!
Story 2: We think that we’re not strong enough
The second example of accepting challenges is about physical exercise plank. For those of you who don’t know about the exercise, it’s when you should keep your body straight and stay on your toes and elbows; it’s a static exercise. And you don’t need to do any extra movements, just stay still.
At one moment, several years ago, I realized that I didn’t want to have a big belly. That’s why I started to practice some ABS workouts. And I did it for several months. And once, during lunch, I was speaking with my colleague, and he told me that he had just taken part in a company’s competition, where there were several different physical competitions, like doing push-ups on the floor or flipping on the crossbar. But there was also a plank competition. And he had just taken part in that plank competition.
I knew him as a physically developed person who’d spend a lot of time in the gym. And of course, it was obvious that he was ready to take part in such challenges. And after asking him what his time in a plank was, he told me that it was around eight minutes. “What?! Eight minutes?! It’s a huge amount of time! He’s really strong!”
And of course, I didn’t even think about taking part in something similar, because I didn’t treat myself as a very strong person, just an ordinary man. But then in the evening, I thought to myself, “I’ve already spent a lot of energy on an ABS workout. And I should probably show at least some results with that plank exercise. I set the timer on my smartphone, warmed up my body. And imagine my surprise when I realized I was able to stand for six minutes! Of course, I tried really hard, but that meant to me at that moment that I could beat his record after some practice.
And I decided to take part the next year in the same competition. I started practising. Not too much, but every day. And in nine months the company organized the same competition. And I took part in the plank competition only. My goal was 10 minutes or to get third place. And as a result, I stayed for 14 minutes and 25 seconds, and I took second place in that competition.
The main result for me from that competition is that it has shown me that I’m a really strong person and that I can do much better than I think about myself.
How to accept new challenges easily?
You already know that participating in challenges is really good for you. But the thing is that to be ready to accept new challenges you should believe in yourself! But how to believe in yourself? For that, you should know that you are powerful and resourceful somehow, because without feeling and realizing that your brain will, again and again, reject ideas of participating in challenges. You need some evidence that you are resourceful, that you’ve already achieved something. How to do that?
Wrong approach to identify our achievements
If you look into Google and try to find the answer to the question “How to identify your achievements?”, all you will get is a list of articles with ideas on how to improve your CV, or how to answer properly on interviews because all those articles are about career achievements. And this is sad because all that information forces you to meet someone else’s criteria and expectations. Based on those articles, you should decide your target position and then analyze what you have done in that sphere to be valuable.
Why do you need to know your achievements?
But what about being yourself? I treat achievements as products of our soft and technical skills applied to our interests. Sometimes, we have our achievements, because we were forced by something to do it.
But again, what is the purpose of identifying your achievements? When you know your real achievements, you will be more likely to accept new challenges without losing new opportunities. And achievements are not only about a profession; this is not about making money. This is about being resourceful. This is to show that you have something that drives you, that there are spheres where you turn on and provide something especially valuable.
We are different
But how to identify those achievements? How to see that you are really special?
We all start with almost the same initial skills: we can eat, we can show some of our emotions, and we can sleep. But right after birth, each of us has a unique environment to grow in and start the development process differently.
And even if we try to be the same as other people, at some moment in a kindergarten or school, we start realizing that we are different in something, that we have some unique interests, that we think differently, and that we can spend a lot of our time on things that other people don’t care about. And by spending that extra time, we’re more likely to receive extra results in that occupation in comparison to other people who don’t spend such amount of time on it.
How to identify your achievements?
What did you like to spend your time on in the past, for instance, being at school, or in college? Please, don’t stick to a profession, just think: “What would you spend a lot of your time on? What results did you have by spending that time? Did you have some extra results?”
Again, that could be anything, and results could be different. That could be something material. That could be some conclusions or positive emotions of others. There are some extra results! And those results differentiate you from other people!
Can you remember some of the results you were proud of? Every idea, every memory is relevant. Can’t find those memories? Then think twice! Don’t be so modest! Right now you’re doing it just for yourself. This is not about someone else’s thoughts; this is about being yourself.
Again, you spend some time, you have some results, even strange to other people, and you’re proud of those results. This is your achievement! Try to analyze why you were proud of it. How much effort did you spend on it? How much time did you spend on it? What extra skills or extra features let you get those results?
Weapon against your fears and doubts
And then remember it as your achievement, and remember those skills and features that make you special! This will be your weapon against your fears and doubts before accepting a new challenge. Every new challenge will show you that you are better, smarter, and stronger than you thought you would be. This is like getting up the stairs – step by step – by accepting a bigger and bigger challenge.
Accept new opportunities and challenges
Right now, if you see some new opportunity, a new challenge, just accept it! You will probably fail some of those, but you will become stronger, and you will have all those benefits which we described previously in this episode.
One more thing, if you accept long-term challenges, use self-discipline to reach your goals. Without self-discipline, you will often fall down, and you will blame yourself for it. Self-discipline is a key! You can listen more about self-discipline in Episode 009: Motivation vs Self-discipline.
Your task for the next week
- First step, recall the moment or situation when you understood that you’re different. What was it about? Why did you think that way?
- The second step is to analyze what you are ready to spend a lot of your time. It could be about the past or the present. But please, don’t forget about the past, because you can find a lot of different things there. Even if you’ve stopped doing that, you probably have some achievements back in those days.
- The third step: What were your results? What results were you proud of?
- The fourth step: analyze what your skills or features helped you to achieve those results.
- And the fifth step: remember your achievements, your features, and your skills. Do you have any opportunities, any challenges on the horizon where your skills and features could be useful and would help you achieve.