Public Speaking… Losing Weight… Closing a sale… Hitting a Curveball… The list goes on…
All of us face difficult challenges in our lives and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. Unfortunately, all too often we allow the illusion of difficulty to discourage us — which in turn leads to feelings of frustration, causes us to complain, lose focus, and makes us just want to give up.
But what if there was a set of powerful tools that would allow us to consistently overcome our challenges?
The good news is that five such tools exist, and more importantly, YOU already possess them! In this article, we’ll discuss each of these skills and how you can apply them to make your life better.
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5 POWER-ful Tools to Overcome
Tool #1: The Power of Your Mind
It all starts here. If you believe something is too difficult, then you’re setting yourself up for failure before you even begin. You know the old adage from Confucius, “the man who thinks he can, and the man who thinks he can’t, are both right.” Which one do you want to be?
OK, so you have a task that seems difficult, maybe even impossible at first glance. Sure you could allow that thinking to control you — sending you careening down the path of disappointment. But why not change your mindset? Why not take control of the situation with your mind. Here’s how…
- Step 1: Recognize that Difficulty is just an illusion because…
Everything is difficult… until it becomes easy ~ Dan Millman, Body Mind Mastery
- Step 2: Take action. Stop thinking about how hard the task it and just get started. The sooner you DO something, and focus your attention on the task, the sooner you can stop letting fear of the task control you. This action could be as simple as putting together a game plan, writing that first line of your story, or trying your first pushup — it doesn’t matter what you do, it just matters that you DO.
- Step 3: Keep taking consistent, focused action on the task until after you cross the finish line. Maintain your mental focus on action and two things will happen. First off, there won’t be any room in your mind for the Illusion of Difficulty to take root. Secondly, your actions will move your closer to your goal. As you begin to recognize that you’re actually ‘doing it’ (whatever ‘it’ may be), you’ll gain the confidence you need to conquer your mental dragons and complete your quest.
Good news – you already possess the power of your mind!
Remember, when you were a baby, you couldn’t walk; there was a time as a kid when you didn’t know how to tie your shoes or add 2+2, and once upon a time you didn’t even know how to read. But you found a way to overcome each of those obstacles, didn’t you? That’s because when you were a kid you didn’t let your mind discourage you because you didn’t know any better — you simply kept trying and believing.
Maybe it’s time to rediscover that belief in yourself?
Tool #2: The Power of Preparation
When you invest the time to build a solid foundation, you provide yourself with the building blocks needed to overcome both simple and complex challenges.
- Wait, isn’t taking time to plan just delaying action? Actually no. I would submit to you that the process of planning is very action oriented. Planning is itself a task — a very important one because it provides us with a roadmap to reach our goals.
- Furthermore, when you focus your mind on building a good plan, you’re actively seeing yourself overcome difficulties and ultimately achieving your goal —this is because the very nature of planning requires that the final step is the successful execution of your goal. Seeing this on paper can be a powerful catalyst, propelling you forward with confidence to take further action. Armed with your plan, that action will be focused on the right tasks needed to overcome any obstacles that stand in your way.
- So you wanna hit that curveball? Then learn (and practice!) the basics of hitting: having a balanced stance, how to swing the bat correctly, and of course watching the ball all the way to the bat. These simple things are easy to overlook but critical to success. Sadly one of the biggest fundamentals of hitting that is rarely even taught nowadays (at any level) is how to ‘bunt’ a baseball — a skill that absolutely requires you to learn how to focus and watch the ball hit the bat in order to succeed. Unfortunately, with less time devoted to practice because of the pressures of immediate competition, coaches tend to take shortcuts on fundamentals like bunting, proper base running, and even using two hands to catch. That’s a shame because the loss of these basic skills in a player’s talent foundation (i.e. a lack of proper preparation!) leads to problems later.
Don’t let this happen to you. Whether you’re trying to hit a ball or land a new job, always invest the time to build a good plan. It’s often the difference between success and failure.
Tool #3: The Power of Simplifying Things
ANY challenge that appears complicated CAN be simplified. The key is to break it down into smaller “bite-sized” chunks so you can take a step-by-step approach.
Wanna lose weight? Starving yourself (i.e. trying to do it all at once) rarely works. Instead, come up with a plan that simplifies the process. Recognize that you can’t climb the mountain overnight, but you can take the first step, and the next, and the next. Rather than focus on the giant, seemingly out of reach, I’ll-never-get-there goal, instead focus on the little things you can do.
- Build a SMART (1) plan whose blueprint is a series of small steps, that if done correctly, will by definition, lead to the achievement of your goal. Your steps may include portion control, reducing some of your junk food, adding in some physical activity, working with a partner or coach for motivation, etc. By following a gradual, methodical, building block process based on smaller Oh-I-can-do-that steps, you will reach your weight loss goal over time. (1: SMART stands for ‘specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound’).
- Better still is this — by using a series of smaller steps, you’ll be creating a series of habits that will, in turn, result in a lifestyle change. Why is this important? Because that lifestyle change will ensure that your bad eating habits don’t rebound later, so you can continue to live in your success zone.
- Also, more steps give you more opportunities to celebrate success, which in turn makes you feel better about yourself and inspires you to keep going. Before you know it, you’ll reach your goals.
Tool #4: The Power of Advice
There is no need to try to solve every problem by yourself. If someone else has already invented the wheel, then use their wisdom and move on. Don’t waste time because your pride won’t allow you to ask for help.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened ~ Jesus, The Gospel of Matthew (7: 7–9)
- Need to solve the Pythagorean Theorem for your geometry class? If you don’t understand the math text, seek guidance from your teacher, tutor, fellow students or even sources like The Khan Academy or YouTube — the answers are out there, all you have to do is ask.
- Need to close more sales at work? Stop doing the same old thing if it’s not working. Instead, try reading a book (Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale would be a good start), investing in a sales training course, and/or finding a mentor (and then mimic what they do). Arm yourself with wisdom and then practice, practice, practice. You’ll gain the skills and confidence you need to succeed — and in sales, the mental game is 90% of the battle.
Tool #5: The Power of Action
Although we’ve already talked about Action, it’s such a powerful tool (perhaps the most powerful!), it really needs its own section.
- President Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are.”
- Success guru Tony Robbins often talks about the importance of ‘taking massive, determined action’ as the key to achievement.
- The message is clear — you can’t get anything done unless you “Just Do It.”
- Whatever your goal, don’t wait, get started by taking action (any action) today — you’ll be one step closer to your goal.
Afraid of public speaking? Here’s your first step: stand in front of a mirror and just read a book. (Surely you can do that, right?) Next time, casually talk to yourself in that same mirror. (Also doable). Then write a few notes on a card and use that to speak to Mr. Mirror again. Then try it live with your pet. Then one friend. Then two. And so on. In no time at all, you’ll be delivering a keynote address to a group of 500!
Is life difficult?
Yes. And it will continue to be because that’s just how it goes.
BUT — can you overcome any challenge?
Yes, yes, and double-plus-yes!
I believe you can do it. Now it’s time for YOU to believe in yourself as well.
BONUS — A Competitive Edge?
I’ll leave you with one final thought — sadly most people won’t take the time to overcome their difficulties. That’s a shame, but it’s also an opportunity… for you.
Once you start using these 5 POWER-ful tools to consistently overcome life’s difficulties, you’ll be giving yourself a competitive advantage — once you can hit that curveball, or deliver a good speech, or get your weight under control, or close more sales, you’ll make yourself more valuable to your team, your company, and yourself. Success begets more success and before you know it you’ll be living your best life now. That’s pretty freakin’ awesome!
As Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty, lies OPPORTUNITY.”
My question to you is this – what current challenge are YOU facing and can you use these POWER-ful tools to turn it into an opportunity?
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