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3 Tips for Overcoming Challenges:

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

There are No Mistakes

I know, as soon as you read this you instantly thought of ten mistakes, right? In the moment, a lot of things look like mistakes. When you get some distance from a challenging event your perspective is likely to improve and you may be able to see the silver lining in the cloud. Perspective matters. Support matters. Courage matters. I have spent decades teaching people how to acknowledge challenges and obstacles before them, gather perspective, remain calm and encouraged and assemble a team of advocates to stay on track and accomplish their goals.

Short true story: Based on a high GPA from undergraduate school the only obstacle I had to overcome to be admitted into graduate school was taking a course in Statistics and earning a B+ or higher. As math has never been my strong suit I was thrilled that I did not have to take a GRE or GMAT; however I was more than a little concerned about taking Statistics. I remembered asking one of my closest friends at that time who had advanced professional degrees and is a brilliant and successful guy, "What was the toughest course you ever took?" You guessed it, "Statistics". I expected it to be tough and it was. My personal strategy for doing painful tasks is to achieve the goal in a short time frame so I took the class in a five week long semester in summer school. We started with 15 students in the class and at the beginning of the second week there were only 8 of us. I went home and cried.

Here are some tips to keep at the forefront of your mind as you acknowledge and persevere to overcome obstacles.

Tip #1: Acknowledge Challenges Early On

Because of the abbreviated semester and my deep desire to become a therapist I had to look this one in the eye. There was no time to contemplate possible alternatives. I needed this course and I needed to do well in it. I was determined to take my seat in graduate school without delay.

Acknowledging that you need to act and you need to act now focuses your attention on a solution that will move you forward towards your goal. There will be some hurdles to overcome. Hang in there. Isn't your goal more important than any obstacle in your way? Will you allow a challenge to stand between you and your desired outcome? Hopefully not.

Imagine you've come to a fork in a road. To the left is escaping from the daunting task before you but the price you pay is giving up or amending your goal. To the right is a more challenging path with plenty of obstacles and opportunities for growth. The likelihood of reaching your goal is multiplied when you commit to this one.

Acknowledge the challenge first, then imagine, sense and feel what outcome you will experience if you take the path of least resistance or the path of successful endeavors. You get to choose.

Tip #2 - Ask for Help When You Need It

This comes naturally to many of you. Others have to work at it. It's not like you are asking someone to do the task for you. You are asking how they handle similar situations. You are asking for their perspective, insight and support. You still have to be wiling to take the next steps to accomplish your goal. Gathering support gives you a boost that helps you stay on task.

When you reach out to others be specific about what you need. There are teachers, supporters and advocates in our midst. Avoid cheating yourself out of another point of view or useful information.

On the second day of the second week of summer school I made an an appointment to meet with the professor before class began to share with him that I was flat out not getting it. Just about everything he was saying was going right over the top of my head. Unfortunately he did not hear me. Exasperated I went to class and took my seat next to a young woman who was both a math and psychology major. I told her my experience and she said, "There's a reason why you are not getting this. He's taught this class so many times that he's leaving out important things that you would not know unless you were a math major. It would be like teaching someone how to breathe and omit telling them how to exhale."

Solution: I hired the math major to teach me the course work. She had me do 100 problems every night until I understood it and could perform well on all the exams.

"Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them." – Brene' Brown

Tip #3 - Be Courageous

You don't have to have all the answers to be victorious. You have to use your strength and courage to persevere during experiences of adversity. Focus on the goal, not the challenge. You have innate strengths, use them. If you are not familiar with your own strengths or need to be reminded of them reach out to me for resources. You are not alone, this is part of the human experience. When you stop and think about it you probably have numerous examples of how you've found a way around countless obstacles (See? There are no mistakes!). Notice how doing what you did changed things for you in a positive way. Maintain your courage and offer words of wisdom and encouragement to those who seek it.


Opportunities and learning experiences often show up as challenges and even mistakes. Why would you do all these things? Because standing in the tension and strategizing how to overcome an obstacle stretches and grows you. It gives you tools you can use throughout life to persevere and find your way forward through life's difficulties. You learn to see beyond challenges, develop skills and seek solutions.

Decades later I am grateful for the young woman who was willing to tutor me. I got an A in the class by the way. What was most important was not the content of the course, it was the experience I had that taught me that I was strong, my goals were important and other people could and would help me.

To Learn More about Making Your Goals Reality contact me:

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