The Art of Strengths Coaching

I is for Improving By Tackling Inspiring Challenges Or Intimidating Challenges

There are many ways to develop. One approach is to improve by tackling inspiring or intimidating challenges.

Looking back, when have you grown by tackling an uplifting challenge? You may have followed your passion to sing in a choir, do a creative project, learn a language, invent a product, learn a language or whatever.

Have you ever grown by tackling a daunting challenge? You may have run a marathon, helped a troubled person, climbed a mountain or tackled a problem that you initially found frightening.

People often grow by throwing themselves into doing projects rather than by just reading about the theory. Sometimes these challenges can be both inspiring and intimidating.

Pete Carroll, the American Football coach, described how he looked forward to competing against tough opponents. Relishing the opportunity, he encouraged his team to flow in the situation, rather than be consumed by fear. Here is his view on competition.

Inspiring Challenges 

People often need to cross over an emotional line before they commit to tackling a challenge. They need to feel that reaching the goals will bring them positive benefits.

Looking back on your own life, can you recall an inspirational challenge that you chose to tackle? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

What was the trigger that made you decide to tackle the challenge? What did you do to gather information? What did you see as the benefits of reaching the goal? What did you do to clarify your picture of success?

How did you settle on your strategy? How did you translate this into a clear action plan? What did you then do to move into action? How did you encourage yourself by getting some quick successes?

How did you solve problems on the journey? How did you do everything possible to achieve the goal? What did you learn from tackling the challenge? How did you apply these lessons in your personal or professional life?

Anita Roddick was somebody who relished tackling challenges. She was a pioneer who acted as a role model for people who wanted to build ethical and successful businesses.

Here is a video in which she talks about her approach to life and work. You can discover more via the following link.

Anita may have come across as an idealist, but she was remarkably savvy. She learned the Can Do attitude from her Italian parents. They ran an American-style Diner café in Littlehampton, Sussex, during the 1950s.

Opening the café at 5.00 am to cater for the fishermen’s breakfast, they kept serving throughout the day until the last customer was satisfied. She served in the café from an early age and felt what it was like to handle money.

Her apprenticeship proved invaluable when starting her first shop in 1976. Gilly Mckay and Alison Cork described her adventure in their book The Body Shop. Anita explained this in the following way.

When I opened the doors, I was not thinking about changing the world. I simply had to take £1000 in the first week to feed the baby and pay the bills.

With £4000 borrowed from the bank I could only afford to spend £700 on products. But the 20 products we formulated looked pretty pathetic all standing on one shelf. So to make the shop look busy and full I produced them in five sizes of bottles. 

I couldn’t afford fancy packaging so I bought the cheapest bottles available and the labels were handwritten.

We painted the ceiling of our tiny shop green to cover the damp patches and put garden fencing on the walls to stop rain splashing the products.  

The first day we opened was a Saturday and we took £100. The other retailers in the street were laying odds of 10-1 against our surviving six months, but we were on our way.

Let’s return to your life and work. Looking back at your own inspiring challenge, how did it help you to improve? How did you apply these lessons in your life?

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

Describe the specific situation in the past when you were helped to improve by tackling an inspiring challenge.

Describe the specific things you did then to tackle the challenge.

Describe the specific ways that you were helped to improve by tackling the challenge.

Intimidating Challenges 

Jill Bolte Taylor chose to tackle a daunting challenge after having a stroke. Below is a video of her TED talk on the topic. Here is the official description.

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke.  

As it happened – as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding – she studied and remembered every moment.

This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another. 

Following the TED talk and a best-selling book, Jill set up the site called My Stroke of Insight. This invites people to describe their experiences of strokes. Here is an extract from the site.

Welcome to the My Stroke of Insight website, an interactive place to read inspiring stories and share techniques on how to create deep inner peace. 

These stories of insight are based on Dr. Jill’s interactions with the thousands of people who have shared their anecdotes from insights learned through her book.

Do you practice the 90-Second Rule? How do you take responsibility for the energy you bring into a room? Share your experiences here!

When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.

Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds. 

This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away.

After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.

Let’s return to your life and work. Looking back, when have you grown from tackling a daunting challenge?

You may have been shocked by losing your job or by being diagnosed with a threatening illness. Alternatively, you may have been both inspired and intimidated by seeing a formidable challenge – such as climbing a mountain or starting your own business.

At some point, however, you saw that the pluses of tackling the challenge outweighed the minuses. You then crossed an emotional line and said:

“Yes, I want to do my best to tackle the challenge.

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

Describe the specific situation in the past when you were helped to improve by tackling an intimidating challenge. 

Describe the specific things you did then to tackle the challenge.  

Describe the specific ways that you were helped to improve by tackling the challenge.

Improving By Tackling
Challenges In The Future 

Looking to the future, can you think of a specific challenge you would like to tackle? This could be in your personal or professional life.

The challenge could be inspiring, intimidating or a mixture of both. Looking ahead, however, you believe that it would be worthwhile to achieve the picture of success.

Jack Sim is person who took this route. He chose to tackle an enormous challenge and founded the World Toilet Organization. Here is some background about him and the organisation taken directly from its website.

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. 

He was a founding member of American Restroom Association and was invited to launch The German Toilet Organization in Berlin in 2006. 

In 2007, Jack became one of the key members to convene the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance comprised of over 130 organizations active in the sanitation sector including UN-Habitat, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, and the World Bank. He heads its Asian Secretariat in Singapore. 

He also sits on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Councils (GAC) for Water Security and the GAC for Social Entrepreneurship.

Jack has received many honours and accolades for his work over the years.  In 2011, Reader’s Digest named Jack Asian of the Year and most recently, he was named a Synergos Senior Fellow 2013. Jack is also an Ashoka Global Fellow and a Schwab Fellow of the World

Many people across the world are now turning their energies towards tackling both inspiring and intimidating challenges. The Singularity University, for example, attracts people who aim:

To utilise accelerating technologies to
address humanity’s hardest problems

The Singularity University was founded in 2009. The co-founders were Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Founder and Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation and International Space University (ISU), and Ray Kurzweil, futurist, author, and Director of Engineering at Google

Below is an excerpt from its website. You can discover more via the following link.

We’re on a Journey
from Inspiration to Impact

SU was founded on the premise that the world’s greatest problems are the world’s greatest opportunities.

We deeply believe that the world has all the necessary ingredients to tackle our biggest challenges and create abundance for all.

We have the visionaries, the teachers, the technologies, the makers, and the capital.

There are millions of people across the globe who are working tirelessly to create positive change. 

When all of these ingredients combine, the possibility for impact becomes exponential.

We are a platform for promoting new ways of thinking and innovating, a launch pad for emerging ventures, and a powerful global community of doers and leaders – all poised to solve humanity’s biggest problems. 

Our community is growing by the day. We’d like you to join us on our journey from inspiration to impact.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Imagine that you want to tackle an inspiring or intimidating challenge in the future.

What would be the benefits of tackling the challenge? How could you encourage yourself on the journey? How could you do your best to achieve the picture of success?

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

Describe the specific challenge that you may want to tackle in the future. 

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

Describe the specific benefits of tackling the inspiring or intimidating challenge.

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