Challenge: “A test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking…” (thefreedictionary.com)
Challenges are everywhere. They are an everyday occurrence in our working lives, whether it be a poor profit result, a problematic relationship with a colleague or difficulties in leading others through change. Dealing with each one effectively is inextricably linked to developing as a leader.
The question is: What is the best way to deal with challenges as they arise, and how do we transform a difficult situation into an advantageous one?
In the clip Sir Michael describes his personal philosophy on overcoming difficulties, which I believe can be universally applied to every ‘situation’.
Here is an excerpt from the clip:
“I opened the door and then rather lamely, I said to the producer who was sitting out in the stalls, ‘Well, look, I can’t get in. There’s a chair in my way.’ He said, ‘Well, use the difficulty.’ So I said ‘What do you mean, use the difficulty?’ He said ‘Well, if it’s a drama, pick it up and smash it. If it’s a comedy, fall over it.’ This was a line for me for life: Always use the difficulty.”
Sir Michael goes on to say there is never anything so bad where ‘using the difficulty’ can’t be applied, and that if we use it only a quarter of one percent to our advantage, then we’re ahead.
I love the simplicity of this message, because although we may realise objectivity is an essential part of problem solving, a positive resolution is not always an easy one to find.
The next time you are faced with a challenge try ‘using the difficulty’.
Firstly, take a step back. I know this isn’t easy throughout the constant chaotic flux of a ‘normal’ working day, but trust me – a few moments of uninterrupted reflection can make all the difference to the quality of your decisions.
If the issue approaches you head on, just be honest! Say you need a few minutes to digest the information and formulate a response, people will appreciate your care and attention to the matter.
Finally, ask yourself what can I learn from this situation? Write down every positive outcome and possibility which could potentially arise as a result of the situation, from which fresh insights can be gained…and you’ll probably feel a lot lighter as well.