Thursday, October 26, 2006

Challenge: Full Circle

This is a short blog to lay out A (not THE but A) definition of challenge and the process by which we can apply it and benefit from it in our daily lives. Challenge is a process. It is a process though which some of our current limits, capacities, and ways of thinking are pressed to perform at a level they are either not used to, or never have before.

Basically a challenge is something that makes you act, think, or be different to overcome. Put this way, CHALLENGE is one of the cornerstones of swimupstream, and one of the keys to living a life full of discovery and understanding. Without challenge, there is no growth. With no growth, we become the real life image of Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day"; living every day the same and seeing no purpose or forward movement. In this light, challenge is one of the crucial elements to a rewarding and happy life.

People who are stuck in a dead-end job, a negative relationship, or who feel unfulfilled or unsatisfied with the daily grind most often do so because they are missing challenge in a big way in their lives. So if we know this, why isn't everyone challenging themselves and each other? Because it is easier not to. The toughest part of applying the concept of challenge to your daily life is that it is challenging. That simple, that hard.

So let us get to the other big questions you may be asking... How do I challenge myself? In what areas? When/ how often should I be challenged? Who is going to challenge me? Great questions and thanks for asking... Let's get to it!

There are 4 steps to any significant challenge.
  1. Initiate or accept challenge. That is, seek out a new challenge or accept one that has been laid out for you.
  2. The journey. This is the adversity that must be trudged through, the heartache, the "I can't do it" or "why is this so hard?" moments. If you don't experience these, the challenge is often not sufficient and there will be little growth from it.
  3. The Victory. The finish line after a marathon that took 6 months to train for, the vacation after saving up and cutting back on your expenses for a year, the wedding day after the months of planning and years of disappointing relationships, etc.
  4. What's next? If we miss this step, we miss continuous growth. It is not enough to say yes to challenge once. The greatest challenge you can accept in this lifetime is to challenge yourself daily and never stop growing or seeking out the little or big challenges in attempts to become a better person. That is coming "full circle"- execution of one challange and acceptance of the next.

So the next questions are how and when do I begin, and who should challenge me? The answers are simple...Begin right now. Challenge yourself to do something physically or in your workplace that you didn't feel you could in the past. Force yourself outside your comfort zone and join that dance lesson, sing karyoke, learn a new sport or musical instrument, or even a new language. But do it and it shouldn't take just one afternoon unless it is a tough physical challenge.

Identify who your mentors are- what did they teach you? Can they still teach you? Who else can you learn from, and what is it that they are going to teach you? Write the challenge down, set specific goals regarding timeline, what you will need, when you are starting, what are the consequences of not achieving, etc and share it with someone close to you. That commits you and drives you to achieve your goal.

Set a challenge for every area of your life: work, health/ physical, family, finances, spiritual, relationships, intellectual, etc. You may start in one area you are comfortable (ie physical for an athlete or intellectual for an accountant), tackle a challenge, and then come full circle by taking on a challenge in an area you feel needs improvement. Doing this will help bring a greater sense of balance to your life and greater fulfillment too.

Challenge is your friend. Get to know him a little better starting right...... now!

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