The challenges we face can seem like a lot of work, when we’re already out of breath. They can seem like a lot to manage, when we feel we have little means to go forward with. Challenges seem like a lot of stuff that needs to somehow be put in place, to make things ready for whatever it is, that needs to be done. So there is no doubt that challenges truly are -challenging!
On top of that, isn’t it always so that challenges come for some reason at the last moment, so finding the solution becomes a hassle as time is against us, applying more pressure as the clock is ticking. Again, there is no doubt – challenges truly are challenging.
It’s All About Perspective
But there is something missing in that perspective – if it exists all on its own, without the larger perspective that exposes the very nature of challenges. You see, we are so busy dealing with the challenge, it’s too often that we miss out on the good stuff; what it does to us while we are ‘dealing’ with it – how it shapes us. There is a hidden part here and a forgotten part there, with regard to the challenges that we tend to overlook. And yet, overlooking that hidden and forgotten part, makes things more difficult in the end.
It all seems much more simple, once we look at challenges we faced and realized not only what we invested, but what we got back. This then goes beyond what we went through the meet that challenge as we realize what the challenge gave to us.
The Past Transforms the Future
A strong memory from my past involves myself as a child, having to take my handicapped little brother for a walk. I was struggling with so much shame, afraid to be asked things about him, about why is he the way he is – answers I could not provide and things I could not even explain. I wanted to hide. I sometimes answered that I was not his brother, but his babysitter. I would say that I didn’t not know why he was like that, and it wasn’t my fault.
In my twenties however, things changed. I gave a talk in front of a full house in a large theatre in Tel Aviv, about being the brother of an autistic child. I looked back at the child I was and the child my brother was and I was so proud. I felt so honoured to be his brother. During the talk I shared funny stories from the time we grew up and made the whole thing into a stand-up comedy routine. At first people felt pity and there was silence in the room, but gradually they began to be inspired and in the end, they were applauding.
When I look back at challenging situations through my life, I know I walked away a different man. This got me wondering – what is it about challenges that does this to us? I can draw a line connecting the dots of the many challenges I was facing, some alone and some with others. In all of them I can see that mirror reflecting back to me and I can see that within each challenge there was a turning point. Packaged within each one of them there was development and in each one there was growth.
Challenges are points of transformation. They offer us the chance to go beyond who we are, into what we can become. By facing and embracing challenges, we actually embrace that very turmoil of change, that storm of transformation. It’s little wonder that these are the moments we remember most vividly and can later connect with so deeply – when we realise just how much we learned.