The Art of Strengths Coaching

D is for Being Delighted To Tackle Certain Kinds Of Daunting Challenges

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Are there certain kinds of daunting challenges that you are happy to tackle? The word delighted may seem strong, but the alternative is to ignore the issue or hope it goes away.

You prefer to step up and tackle the issue. Choosing to be a volunteer, you are delighted to take on the challenge because the alternative would be much worse. You dare to take these steps because:

You believe it is important to tackle the challenge and you also see the benefits of achieving success. 

You are prepared to take responsibility for tackling the challenge and follow the old maxim: “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?” 

You focus on what you can control and believe that, providing you do your best, you have the ability to tackle the challenge successfully.  

Here are some answers that people have given when I have explored this question with them.

The daunting challenge that
I am delighted to tackle is:

Raising my children as a single parent … Helping deeply troubled young people … Competing in a round-the-world yacht race … Going to the Arctic to film polar bears … Being a paramedic each day … Developing non-invasive treatments for prostate cancer … Promoting the spirit of kindness in our society.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Can you recall a situation when you chose to tackle a daunting challenge?

You may have chosen to manage an illness, encourage a dyslexic child, deal with a tragedy, help people in need, make a difficult career transition or whatever.

Even though the challenge was difficult, you preferred to tackle it rather than ignore it. What did you do to set a specific goal, clarify the strategies and then embark on the journey? What happened as a result?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things. 

Describe a specific situation in the past when you chose to tackle the daunting challenge rather than dread it.  

Describe the specific things you did to tackle the challenge. 

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of taking these steps.

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Let’s explore some of the principles that you may follow when dealing with a challenge.

You believe it is important to tackle the
challenge and see the benefits of achieving success

Different people make decisions in different ways. You will have your own approach to gathering information, reflecting and then making a decision.

Sometimes the decision may come quickly. It may be an almost instant reaction and you say:

“It is obvious. This is what I want to do.”

You had the choice to do nothing, of course, which is also a decision. But you quickly decided to pursue a particular route.

Sometimes you may take time to consider the possible options for going forwards and the consequences of each option. At some point, however, you may cross an emotional line and say:

“Right, now I have decided. This is the route I want to follow.”

Sometimes the decision involves our personal lives. It may call for taking care of our health, building relationships or developing as a person. Sometimes it involves our professional lives. It may mean finding ways to do more satisfying work or making a career transition.

Alanna Shaikh has made key decisions in both her personal and professional life. The title of her TED talk shown below, for example, is called: How I’m preparing to get Alzheimer’s.

Alanna starts her talk by saying: “I’d like to talk about my Dad. My Dad has Alzheimer’s Disease.”

After describing her father and how loving he is, Alanna outlines the steps she is taking in case she suffers the illness. The TED site provides the following background to her talk.

Global development expert Alanna Shaikh takes on the toughest of health issues – from the ones affecting the globe at large to the ones hurting her own family.

On her blog, Blood and Milk, she aims to make global development issues both accessible and understandable.

In her TED Book, What’s Killing Us, she explains the biggest challenges in global wellness – from HIV/AIDS to the diminishing effectiveness of antibiotics – in a way that anyone can understand.

Alanna is especially interested in Alzheimer’s, as she has watched her father deteriorate from the disease over the past 12 years.

But she says the experience has not sent her into denial – she plans to be prepared for the genetically transmitted disease, should it ever arrive. 

Alanna intends to develop a ‘hobby’ to keep her hands and mind active. She also intends to keep her body healthy. She says:

“The more things my hands know how to do, the more things that I can be happy and busy doing when my brain’s not running the show anymore.”

She moves on the third point which, she says, is for her more difficult. She aims to continue to become ‘a better person’.

Alanna refers to her Dad, who emits love. She says that, to fight the disease:

“I need a heart so pure that if it’s stripped bare by dementia, it will survive.”

You can find out more about Alanna’s work on Global Health at the following site.

http://www.alannashaikh.com/

You are prepared to take responsibility for tackling the challenge
and say: “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?”

Thorkil Sonne is somebody who took this step. He has helped to change the way society perceives autism by transforming it into a strength.

Below are excerpts from The Specialist People Foundation website. You can discover more via the following link.

http://specialistpeople.com/

Thorkil’s Story

My son Lars was 2½ years old when my wife and I noticed that his development began to differ from that of his older brothers.

We arranged with his nursery carers that he would get extra support from a qualified child psychologist, all the while hoping of course that we could learn how best to help him become more like his brothers.

Our Lives Changed 

Eventually, we were informed that Lars had infantile autism – a life-long invisible handicap in the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Lars would face a life where he would be constantly misunderstood and isolated because it would be difficult for him to interpret what others expected of him.

Most likely, Lars would never have a normal working life.

My Fight 

I became active in the Danish Autism Association. I also studied the Danish welfare model, and realized that although the model is strong and has many good aspects, there was a lot of room for improvement. 

I learned that families with a child with ASD have a high risk of disintegration. 

This is most often because this handicap is invisible, meaning that the family has to struggle to get the outside world to understand and provide timely support. 

Social workers also work under difficult conditions where welfare schemes are available, but the knowledge of how best to help people with complicated invisible handicaps is thin on the ground. 

I experienced that both those who need the help and those who provide help are under great and increasing strain.

Specialisterne 

With the support of my family I re-mortgaged our home and established Specialisterne (The Specialists) in an attempt to tailor a working environment geared towards people with ASD, enabling them to use their specialist skills to act as consultants to the business sector, at market terms.

My vision is to create new possibilities for people with ASD and to influence society to adopt a more positive attitude towards people with ASD.

You focus on what you can control and believe
that,
providing you do your best, you have
the ability to tackle the challenge successfully

Jack Sim is somebody who took this route and takes pride in being known as Mr. Toilet. He is committed to providing sustainable sanitation for people around the world.

He founded the World Toilet Organization. Here is some background about him and the organisation taken directly from its website.

http://worldtoilet.org/wto/

Jack Sim

Jack Sim, Mr. Toilet, has broken the taboo on sanitation and brought issues about toilets and hygiene out into the open. 

After attaining financial independence as a businessman in Singapore by 40, Jack decided to devote the rest of his life to development work in line with his motto: 

“Live a useful life.”

In 1998, Jack established the Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS) whose mission is to raise the standards of public toilets and address the issues of poor toilet design, inadequate building codes and poorly trained cleaners in. 

As Jack began his work, he realized there were organizations similar to this in other countries and without any central governing body. Soon thereafter, he founded the World Toilet Organization (WTO) in 2001.

Since 2001, Jack has been involved in sustainable sanitation efforts all over the world. 

The World Toilet Organization continues to do superb work. Its vision is to improve healthy, dignity and wellbeing for all by providing sustainable sanitation.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking to the future, can you think of a situation in which you would be delighted to take on a daunting challenge?

You may take this approach because you see the benefits of doing so. Alternatively, you may believe that doing nothing is out of the question.

Looking at the potential options for going forwards, you will pursue your chosen route. The road may be rocky, but you may feel alive and alert. You will do your best to tackle the challenge and achieve your picture of success.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may choose to be delighted to tackle a daunting challenge rather than dreading it.  

Describe the specific things you can do to tackle the challenge.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

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