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Day we are faced with challenges in some form or another, something comes up that challenges us, whether it's at school, with assignments, with learning new things at work, in our interactions with other people are just dealing with our own self. And those challenges are our friends. We can, as we often do, take them as a disruption in our life. Something that we don't wanna deal with, something we wanna push off to the side, something that is just a hassle for us. But in truth, they are our friends. Challenges are the thing that brings about growth in us. In the same way that if we don't fail, our brain doesn't change. Cause through failure, our brain is forced to biochemically, replasticize the neuro pathways that are already laid down so that they can be reconstituted with the new learning. It takes the failure to get that kinda growth in the brain, that kinda new learning in the brain.
It also takes challenges to get that to happen. We never develop a new pathway for that challenge. We never learn. We never become more if we're not challenged, if we never go to the gym, we never get bigger muscles. If we're not going out and running every day or whatever it takes, we're not going to run faster if we don't challenge ourself in some way. Nothing changes. And if you're content with that, I suppose that's, but you're coming, becoming more successful in whatever I'm doing. How do we become more genuine, more capable, more powerful, wiser, all of that? How do we do that if we're not challenged? Again, it's the same question as, you know, how do I build more muscles if I don't use them? It takes the challenge. And a lot of times when we're challenged at first, it bothers us. Maybe it irritates us.
Maybe it makes us angry, but then it makes us better. We don't like being challenged, but we need to be challenged. And a lot of the challenges are hitting on what's off in us, what's not working, what's not true, what's not on track? And our defenses kick in and we wanna push it away. We don't wanna look at it, we don't wanna deal with it. But then when we do, we become more in so many ways. So let's look at what's the very nature of a challenge, and then we can look at how do we deal with them and how do we gain from them. So when we think about a challenge, typically a challenge is something that we see as being beyond us, greater than us, bigger than us, more something than us, beyond what we're able to do. So we can see right away that our self-concept is less.
If I get a new assignment in school and I don't know what to do with it, I dunno how to do it. Well. In part that says, I haven't developed my sense of self enough that I can look at that and go, oh yeah, easy. If we went back a couple years in school and gave you an assignment of something you've already learned, well you would go, why bother? There's no challenge here. It's not even interesting. If we went ahead a couple years, we'd go, wow, I'm not ready for this yet. I haven't prepared I'm, I'm not enough. I haven't developed my sense of myself enough yet to take that on. But it through taking on the next step and the next step, the next thing that's bigger, the next thing in the sequence that begins developing that muscle, that sense of identity that says, oh yeah, I'm good at this.
I'm capable of this. I think back on working with a World Cup athlete skier who was highly ranked, but she wasn't able to be top of her field. She did moguls and yet couldn't quite break that barrier to become, that was her challenge. That was what she wanted more than anything, and worked so hard physically for it, just couldn't quite get there. So that challenge pushed her to explore what other ways could she come at this? What other muscle could she develop? So we ended up sitting down and working with this and working with those underlying concepts that she had about herself as not quite being good enough of always falling short. Beliefs like that. Identities that said that she wasn't worthy and cleared those up and suddenly her skiing got much better. So the challenge brought out the area that was her weak area so that it could be strengthened up.
Challenges usually come in our weak area and we're weak in those areas because we've avoided dealing with them or at least dealing with them effectively or as much as we could or should. So when she changed that, everything changed and she went to the top. I recall one of the many students that we worked with, a young woman who wanted to become an engineer but was having trouble with the math and had worked hard on it, had done a lot towards that, but hadn't quite been able to get there. And of course, to be a good engineer, she had to be really good with the math. So she came in and worked with this and worked with, again, the underlying concepts, partly messages that she'd gotten as a female that females don't do as well with math and things of that nature. And changed that up.
And lo and behold, her math skills came around just five. She was quite good at it and was then able to, by dealing with that challenge, which really had sort of been the nemesis for her, had held her back, had frustrated her so much. But it also got her to work really hard and develop really good skills at applying herself. When she started to look at the challenge in terms of what is the legal challenge here and dealt with that, that challenge became a strong point with her. And her belief in herself got very deep and very strong and nothing could hold her back anymore. And she went on to become a very successful engineer as she had wanted to be. So these examples also bring us to the next part of this, which is challenges need to be understood correctly. In both cases, they were working really hard on the challenge, but on the wrong area of the challenge, the area of the challenge that they felt comfortable with, how to apply themselves more powerfully in ways that they were already doing and not stopping to go, wait, what else is going on here that's holding me back?
So we really have to take that bigger view when we're thinking about a challenge and let ourselves see the very thing that we don't want to look at. Almost always, if we wanna know what the real challenge is, we can look for what is it that we're defensive about with that challenge? What are we uncomfortable with in regards to the challenge? What makes us hesitate or pause or turn away? What is the part that we don't even think about often? But if we were looking at somebody else, if we imagine somebody else having the same challenge, what is it that we might right away go, oh, have you looked at this? Have you dealt with this? So often when we project it out on somebody else, it's much easier to see what the actual challenging aspect of the challenge is, and then we can bring that back to ourself and go, oh, what if I have that? And then apply ourselves to that part. And when we've cleaned that up, does the challenge go away or is there something else remaining? And we wanna continue to do that until the whole of the pattern has changed, until we've gained mastery over that whole area that before was challenging to us. That's our goal. That's when we know we've really gotten the learning.
It's also very helpful to look at the challenge in the bigger context. What are we already doing? Well? Cause sometimes when challenged, we let our mind sort of narrow down, sort of get tunnel vision and only see that thing. And then we feel bad about ourselves and all of that. That doesn't help us. We wanna take the bigger and go, what do I already do? Well, and I've talked to some people that they couldn't see anything at all in their lives that they did well. And so then we'd have to go through the basics of, well, how good are you at walking? How good are you at talking? Can you dress yourself? Can you feed yourself? They go, well, yeah, yeah, I've got those. Well, what else? And then once they're on the roll, they could think of a lot of things that they do well because we need to recognize what we already do well in order to have the foundation to challenge persevere, we can imagine if we can see that somewhere out in the future, we're going have mastered this, that we're overcome this somewhere out in the future, we can see ourselves having gone beyond this and step into that so that we can already feel, experience what that's going to be like.
And that gives us the impetus and sometimes the confidence and certainly the drive to engage in overcoming the challenge. When we've done that, when we've become persevering in this way and we're flexible in how we look at what the challenge is, we look at it from a lot of different sides. We almost assuredly will find the solution. Now, sometimes it comes very quickly and sometimes it takes a little while. Sometimes we have to ask for help. That's always a useful thing. Sometimes we're hesitant because if the challenge makes us feel a little bad about ourselves, and sometimes we don't want other people to see that part of us, but if we pick good people, they wanna support us, they wanna be helpful, and we pick good people, they'll be kind about it and they'll be supportive about it. And even that makes a difference. Often they can offer a point of view, a take on it that we might not have seen or we might have gone, oh yeah, there's that, but I don't know that that's really it.
And they might pointed out in a new way that really helps us see what it's and overcome this. That's what we're going for. So make use of your resources, make use of the people around you. If you're not understanding math to go back to that, it is always helpful to go to the teacher, to go to the professor, to go to online videos, to ask your friends, all of that until we find a resource that helps us get what its we wanna get. And given what we've covered here, so often can back through those, what are the beliefs involved? What are the identities involved? What's happened to our motivation? Are we judging ourself, et cetera. You can break it down from a lot of those points of view. So if you review some of those podcasts, a lot of times they'll give you that kinda aha.
Yeah, okay, I get it. This is the piece that I'm missing. That's why we cover those things so thoroughly and why we come back to those so often. Cause those are areas that we often either forget about or are uncomfortable with or we wanna avoid or we just need a reminder of. So that will also help. So let's talk about gratitude for a bit. The attitude of gratitude. So many of the most successful people we know in whatever it is that they do and whatever it's that makes them successful. So many of them actively engage in gratitude. Some of them actually make it a daily practice to really be appreciative, thankful, grateful for what it is they have, what has come their way, how things have worked for them. And that opens them up in such a powerful way that engages them with the world in a way that is often transformative.
I've had some of the most successful people that I've come across tell me that they believe that the reason that they have been so successful is not necessarily because they've worked so hard or cause they've been creative or whatever, although those things certainly make a huge difference. But I've had them tell me that with great introspection, they believe that the most powerful thing they've done is to really practice gratitude and express gratitude where it's appropriate. So when we think about gratitude in this way, it changes things. We're going to get to that in a bit. But I wanna give another example of gratitude because so often people will say, well, in this area where I'm challenged, I don't see what to be grateful for. Well, of course not. At first. We're practicing from the point of view of this challenge will eventually make me stronger, more capable, more of what I need to be. So we're grateful cause our teacher has showed up.
I think often about the time that I've spent quite a bit of time in pretty extreme third world countries where poverty is pretty rampant and I've spent a lot of time with the poorest of the poor. And it is always amazing to me how many of those people are so grateful for so little. I know people that all they have to live in is a shack that was put together from pieces of stuff that they've been able to scavenge and somehow tacked together in a house and it leaks and they have mud floors and whatever, and they're so grateful for what they have. Or maybe they've never had a pair of shoes and they finally got a pair of flip flops and they're so grateful. If they can be grateful for those little things. And I've seen it again and again, how it just lights them up and it carries them to the hardest of times.
What will that do for us in our hard times? Our hard times that maybe are not that hard? It lifts us up, it elevates our consciousness, it gives us a different view on things and it overcomes our defensiveness, our hesitation, our resistance. Cause it previews what is possible. It expands our view of the world. And if we can practice gratitude, it shifts the world from being a difficult place. And certainly it has its difficulties and for some people more than others, but this is a way to go beyond those difficulties. So we're not trapped in that downward spiral of what's wrong with our life. It gives us hand up and draws us up out some of those that we can get in. So it's very powerful, particularly when it comes to dealing with challenges. If we can think about past challenges that we've overcome and how that has carried us forward in our life, we can look at those with gratitude.
I'm so glad I went through that. I didn't like it at the time, but I'm so glad I did cause it got me here. And then apply that view ahead of time to what's challenging us right now. It moves us forward in our life. It makes the next step so much easier. So let's practice that attitude of gratitude and see where it gets us. Much of the understanding that our podcasts are based on is what we would call modeling. Looking at people that are really good at something and then asking how do they do that? Not only externally, how do they do it? What are the steps and that sort of thing, but particularly what do they do internally that lets them become so good at what they're doing? What is it that they believe about themselves? How do they view the world? What strategies have they developed?
What internal skills have they developed? How do they make decisions? How do they process their experience and what meaning do they it successful? And course by success we mean that very broadly. Sometimes in our culture, we success as earning a of money, and that's one kind of success from our point of view. A number of the wealthier people that we've known aren't necessarily successful and some of them are very much so. They have become really stellar human beings in many ways. So we look at that and try and understand by what we can observe and what we can elicit from them when we are able to sit down and work with them and talk with them and find what its they do and what has made able to accomplish what they've accomplished. And then we take those internal processes and share them with you as well as the external ones.
One of the things that we find pretty consistently is that those people deliberately challenge themselves. That the successful people are always playing to their own weakness. What is it that I dunno how to do? Well? What is it that is challenging me right now? What is a direction that I haven't developed yet? What else can I be or do? And then they go and take that on again. They play to their weaknesses, not necessarily to their strengths. They use their strengths of course, but they really play to the challenge. They try and find what area is it in their life that is really going to take them past the limits of what they already know to do or what they've already done. That's where the fun is for them. It's not doing the same thing that they know how to do well over and over and over again. I mean, there's a certain kinda fun in that, but at a biological level, as we've talked about before, the brain gets huge pleasure outta, there's a sensation that happens in the brain when we develop new connections, when we engage new neural pathways, when we succeed at building in new learning. And that is the rush for them that, my gosh, I've never done that before and I just did it. How cool is that? How great is that? How satisfying is that?
So we at the challenges that organic that way, well, this is we've, we also wanna look at where are my weak areas? What don't I know how to do? And <laugh>, a lot of times if we're really playing to that, it makes us pretty uncomfortable. It scares us a little bit. It sets us back on our heels and we're like, I dunno if I really wanna take that on. We don't have to do it all at once. We don't have to accomplish it overnight. We can look at it and break it down into small steps and go, well, if I do this and then I do this and then I do this and then I do that, I'll be there and take it a piece at a time. That's great. That's a good strategy for leading to success. I think of one guy that we got to engage with that he'd become quite good at what he did in the field that he had been working in for several years, but it had lost its luster.
There wasn't much new growth for him, and frankly, it becomes somewhat boring in talking about it. In talking about what he really wanted to do, what his next dream was, was really scaring him, meant giving up the career that he had established where he had a great reputation and again, very accomplished and all that, and go into an area that was related, but really at a very different level. It meant giving up corporate security and going into setting up his own business, own organization, going freelance in a sense and employing a bunch of people and being responsible for their income as well. And yet he knew that was the challenge that he needed to do. That was what was make him happiest. That was what was going to engage his creativity in a way that was going to be really meaningful for him. So he thought long and hard about it, got really organized, developed his contacts, did everything he needed to do to be smart about taking that next step.
And then he stepped over the edge one day and quit the job that he had had where all his security was and went into this new area. We checked in with him a couple years later and it had paid off in such a big way. And the beginning, of course, every day was scary, every day was uncertain. Every day was am I going to be able to make it? But he'd been smart about it and set himself up well and had enough savings and all of that, and now was at a whole new height of expression in what he did, accomplishment and increased just on a monetary level. He had increased his income about 20 times over and was so much happier and worked less and got to do what he had dreamt about for some time and was employing a whole group of people and providing jobs for people, and that was fun for him and managing people.
He had never done that at that level before and had had to learn about how to do that and had to learn even more about how do you handle the money in a business and how do you track payments and salaries and all of that stuff, as well as how to make himself known in the community that he needed to employ him even more than he had been before and how do you develop that kinda reputation? But he took it on. He had developed, he made sure that he had the skills necessary as much as possible before going in, and then once he threw himself into it, of course other challenges arose, new skills that developed and he ended up becoming quite successful. Last time we talked to him, he was thinking about going to a whole nother level of what he was doing, moving into a very different but related industry.
The challenge and the success could be even greater. Our challenges often maybe usually present themselves on their own. It's not like we have to go looking for them, and yet there comes a time in our life where we want to deliberately create the next challenge, knowing that if we succeed at that challenge, here's the outcome we're going to get. Here's the success that that's going to bring. Here's that increased sense of self of capacity that we have in our life that will develop. Challenges are our friends. Make friends with your challenges and your life will expand. Learning is inevitable when we do this. This is one of the ways we prepare for and create the world and the experience that we Want.
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