When it comes to building something of value — whether that’s a business, a joint venture, a brand, or even yourself as an individual — the most important thing to remember is that “challenge” is part of the process.
All too often, people seek the easy road, as if that’s the path they would prefer to travel. The truth is, it’s not. You don’t learn anything when the wind is always at your back. You don’t improve your problem-solving skills when there’s never a problem to solve.
Instead of looking for ways to avoid obstacles, take a page out of Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is The Way.
1. Someone else has run into this issue before — and solved it
99.9 percent of the problems out there have existed before you. Chances are, you aren’t reinventing the wheel. Whenever you are confronted with a challenge, take a moment and realize that someone else, somewhere, has most likely run into this exact same challenge — and they’ve found a way through it.
The best thing you can do is to read. Read and study your craft, your industry, and the problems other people have endured on their own quests forward. Read and learn from their mistakes, and then apply what you’ve learned to your own unique situation.
2. Nothing is “impossible”
Some might say it is impossible for a human being to breathe underwater. Ok, well what if you wore a snorkel? What if you had an oxygen tank connected to your back? What if you used a submarine?
The solution you’re looking for might come in a variety of different forms. Be open to that. There are very, very, very few things that are technically “impossible.”
3. There’s always a solution
Building off the second point here, it’s important to remember that there is always a solution — you just haven’t found it yet.
Most people resort to stressful behavior whenever they’re put in a challenging situation. “This is never going to work!” they shout, and the rest of the team nods and follows along with similar remarks. This sort of thinking does nothing to help you or your team move forward.
Instead, say to yourself (and your cohort), “We will figure this out — there is a solution.” Get the tide moving in that direction, and you’ll be amazed with what obvious answers suddenly rise to the surface.
4. Ask someone more experienced than you
You don’t solve problems in a vacuum — a.k.a. sitting in a dark room thinking about what the answer should be. You solve problems by interacting with people, throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks.
When you run into a challenge, use your network as a resource. Everyone has faced their own unique set of challenges in their time, and it’s beneficial to learn from other people’s mistakes. Don’t try to do everything on your own. It’s not efficient, and rarely necessary.
5. “What’s coming at you is what’s coming from you”
This is a lesson a learned from an old co-worker of mine. Whenever something went wrong and everyone was freaking out, they would take their stress out on other people — to which those people would respond the same way back, and the whole thing would escalate.
It’s important, especially when faced up against an obstacle, that you realize whatever you start offering energetically to the situation is what will come back to you. If you remain open and in a positive problem-solving state, then the answers will float your way. If you close off and start blaming other people, then guess what — people are going to start blaming you too. Control your state. Control your mind. And you will inevitably control the outcome.