Greatness begins with awareness.

Are you finding lessons in your challenges?

rainy-day-graphic-300x300When we encounter a challenge in our personal or professional life, we are often so busy being frustrated, annoyed, maybe even anxious and committed to solving our problem that we forget to pause and think about what we can actually learn from it. Once we have solved the problem, we jump right back into our day without taking a moment for self-reflection.

My Latest Challenge

I recently had one of those weeks where many things challenged me. I did not sleep well for several days in a row due to age-related night sweats. Each day I moved forward to undertake my home and work responsibilities in a bit of a fog, yet determined to accomplish the tasks on my schedule.

One day was full of personal and work administrative tasks, which I do not enjoy and find even more draining when I’m not well rested. I could tell I was getting more and more frustrated and short tempered as I moved through my day. Simple work tasks were frustrating plus I had a doctor’s appointment and had to schedule several follow-up tests.

Back in the car after the doctor’s appointment, I turned on the radio to Joel Otseen’s XM channel. Joel is a national preacher with a weekly TV show, lots of books and now a radio show of his sermons. I find him to be an enchanting motivational speaker. I am always amazed when I tune in because his message always seems to relate to an issue that is relevant to me.  And as luck would have it, his message that day suggested that our challenges provide opportunities for lessons and we should focus on what we might learn instead of losing our patience.

Joel has a great sense of humor and is a natural storyteller about everyday life. As I listened to his stories about his daily annoyances and the meaning he found in them, I started to relax. I asked myself what lesson I might learn from losing my patience over the day. As no clear answer presented itself, I decided I would come back to the question as the day unfolded.

Later in the day, I went to the local bank to get a signature on a legal document to deal with my father’s estate. While the bankers were busy consulting with their legal department to see if they would be able to provide the required signature, I realized I had left an important document at home. To my frustration, I had to go home to retrieve the missing document.

This time when I turned on the car radio, there was Pharrell Williams, singing his uplifting song, “Happy!” I couldn’t help but smile and sing along. I laughed at the timing of the song, playing when I was feeling anything but happy. I certainly needed to be reminded to feel happy and wondered if that was the lesson I needed to take away from the day. I did love the synchronicity of the radio helping me to reflect and reconsider my bad mood.   I lightened up, not taking myself so seriously.

Lesson Learned

The challenging day gave me a chance to see that there are lots of clues and support in the world to help us get through the tough moments; I just need to be open to them. I like that lesson and will remind myself of that next time I have a tough day.

No matter how busy or frustrated we are, we can always take a moment to look at what a difficult situation might teach us, in life and at work. Taking the time to reflect, even in the middle of the tough moments, will help us manage the challenges with more grace the next time they come around.

What have you learned from the last challenge you faced?


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