When faced with obstacles, we have two choices: We can let them overwhelm us or we can overcome them. Setbacks aren’t failures, they’re how we navigate success; discovery is made through trial and error. Just as each journey begins with a single step, each solution begins with a single action. That first step can be hard to imagine at times, especially if overwhelmed, yet simply taking action will inspire more action. How we view an obstacle is a choice and the key is to focus on what’s possible rather than what’s not. When we’re stopped in our tracks, or a project hits a wall, our leadership skills will be tested and we may feel like we need to have all the answers but questions are much more important.
“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.” — Roger Crawford
As each challenge raises new questions, each question presents new possibilities. Often, the most important action we can take is questioning thus the second most important may well be listening. You may not be feeling inspired as you stare an obstacle down but your actions encourage your team to take action, and collaboration is a powerful tool. As with all aspects of leadership, communication is crucial here; no leader is alone and your team will have answers you haven’t thought of since we all bring unique experiences to the table. Instead of getting caught up in the whys and wherefores of an obstacle, we can take advantage of the chance to reassess and gain new perspective.
“A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.” — Ray Davis
Another important aspect of reassessing when an issue arises is to ascertain whether it needs to be dealt with so as to use your team’s resources wisely. By assessing which issues will actually interfere with our progress, we can determine what needs our attention and ensure we don’t mistake distractions for the challenges we do need to work through. If time is money, it follows that attention is energy. Therefore, as important as it is to not ignore issues as they arise, it’s crucial to also be able to set aside those that aren’t creating a setback. Our focus needs to be on the goal rather than the obstacles to keep from being distracted as well as to keep from losing our momentum and motivation.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” — Robert F. Kennedy
When facing an obstacle, just START: Start with what you know, Take it one step at a time, Assess what you can do, Reassess what needs to be done, and Think outside the box or – better yet – Throw the box away. It matters far less whether each step leads to a positive outcome than whether our outlook stays positive. Our best tools in this process are time and creativity; with patience, time builds momentum and, with an open mind, creative thinking allows us to find unique solutions.
Finally, celebrate each bit of progress to keep yourself and your team motivated and remember that having to start over isn’t failure – it’s how we discover new ways of doing things and forge the paths that will reach our goals.
-California Center for Economic Initiatives works at the grassroots levels to support leaders by building an infrastructure where budding leaders can access information and resource on growing their community projects.
-Article Written By Dorian Dorey