07 Sep

How to Overcome Obstacles and Turn Them into Summits

If you know me well, you'll be aware that I can be like a Rottweiler when it comes to solving challenges. Now this has obvious benefits but there are some hidden traps that can easily sabotage my progress unless I'm being self-aware.

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I don't know if it's a "man thing" or just personality (probably a mixture of both), but sometimes the old stubborn, stiff-faced focus can dominate my energy when I'm trying to overcome something.

Let me share with you a story that happened yesterday and show you something that happened in me which was new, and I trust something that you can potentially learn from in your business (and life) – especially if you're prone to becoming stubbornly defiant in the face of challenges.

So here's the story:

I was working on a coding challenge (one of my hats is in web development), and I tried my normal approach of changing something, then a different thing, then another different thing, one step at a time, to see if I could fix the problem.

Well, after 6 hours of on & off trying this approach, nothing worked.

I was frustrated, and angry with myself for having been so stubborn.

And then I sat back, and took the top down view that should've occurred five hours earlier.

I asked myself a question:

"Is there another way I can look at this problem that will help me to move things forward?"

A simple question.

I went downstairs (I work from home), had a cup if tea.

I stopped.

Only for 5 minutes.

And then the new approach came.

And it worked.

5 minutes to save 5 hours.

That's all it took.

There's a book with this phrase as its title (and I haven't read it yet):

Questions Are the Answers.

Quick side story: I met a guy a couple of years back at a bar in Las Vegas (and we were both totally sober by the way: I'm tee-total & he drank water) whose company is a competitor of Facebook, and he told me that he attributed his success to "ASQ's": he just Asks Short Questions. Lots of them.

We stayed up 'til 4:30am in the morning, chatting, getting to know one another. All because he asked short questions.

Back to the main story:

So, what did I learn yesterday?

1) Don't be stubborn (ha!! – requires practice to break old habits & develop new & better ones)

2) If you are working on a problem or challenge, don't spend more than an hour on it. Some would say, and I'm working towards this: "If you can't see the solution to a problem after 15 minutes of solid effort, stop and begin to ask questions".

Sometimes the solution that emerge will involve others becoming involved in some way. Other times you will see a new strategy that was hitherto hidden.

3) Allow yourself time to stop, change your physical location. Talk to someone. Exercise. Just do something different.

If it's a small challenge, the solution might emerge that quickly.

At least, that's what happened yesterday.

Mountain Climbing

Just after supper last night, I exhaled an enormous breath of exhilaration, turned to my wife and said:

"I feel like I've just climbed a mountain: it was hard work, but now I'm at the summit and the view is amazing."

Just one peak among the myriad we should all be aiming to climb.

So, if you're still shaking off the "stubborn man" mentality, I encourage you to begin a different mental process.

It will be challenging, and hard work (any change is). But the sense of reward will be significant, and will effect everything.

Start asking yourself questions. Give yourself time to look down on your challenges, and you will see change.

It's exciting and rewarding.

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