Three Lessons of
Learning for Overcoming Challenges
By Dr. Steven
Stewart is a 47 year-old CEO in downtown Chicago recently
diagnosed with heart disease. Of course, his business is going
through a rough period. If that isn't enough, his two teenage
children are both having trouble at school and his wife's mother has
been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Stewart's question is, "why
me?" What is the answer?
In business and life we encounter stress, suffering, loss and
failure. We expect to overcome these obstacles, understand and
solve our problems without any difficulties or suffering. When
expectations such as these are not met, we go through the motions of
life without joy, without focus, without proper communications,
complaining about problems, blaming others and too stressed to
create or implement solutions. This causes us to cry out "Why Me?"
Does your workplace ever sound like this?
The real question being asked is: "Why do I suffer with so
many problems in my work and life?" There are three lessons that can
help business people to understand and overcome these challenges.
Lesson #1: Why me?
will never know for sure: Absolute truth exists, but we cannot
know it absolutely. That is the human condition, uncertainty. That
uncertainty is the source of our problems. With uncertainty, we can
make mistakes that cause us pain. With uncertainty, without the
complete answer to life's problems, we feel pain. You have problems
from uncertainty, but you also have freedom.
Since you cannot know for sure, you have freedom of choice. You can
choose an ordinary or an extraordinary response in any situation.
What will be your extraordinary response to your conditions? Will
you focus on the pain of problems or the freedom of choice? If you
focus on the freedom of choice you are ready to move on to lesson
#2. Remember, lesson #1 is why me? I will never know for sure.
Lesson #2: Why me?
care-I want to know anyway: To be perfectly human is to know
imperfectly. Responsibility is the ability to respond
extraordinarily in the face of uncertainty. Your job is to continue
your quest for knowledge knowing that you can never know for sure.
You must then act upon your learning. Your responsibility is to
search for truth and do the right thing. Rabbi Tarfon has said,
"It’s not up to you to finish the job, but you are not free from
doing some of the work." Responsibility is the name of the human
game. So, lesson #1-why me? I will never know for sure. Lesson
#2-why me? I want to know anyway. What do I want to know?
Lesson #3: Why me?
I Want to Know My Purpose:
Why do you exist? What is your purpose in life?
Searching and finding your purpose is the key that opens the door to
success in business and life. When you search for purpose there are
two possible answers to life's problems and challenges.
The ordinary answer to the question "why me?" is: "because___."
You fill in the blank with blame. If you can blame, you are
not responsible. Blame turns you into a victim. Blame looks
backwards. To look forward, to solve problems, to see your purpose
being met, you must change your answer to the extraordinary answer.
The extraordinary answer to the question "why me?" is: "So
You fill in the blank with some powerful purpose, some
overriding value or some meaningful solution to the problems of your
business or your life. Freedom, responsibility and purpose
are the values that we learn from the three lessons.
The key point of the three lessons is that in life you can
chose to focus on problems or purpose. Focusing on problems causes
pain and suffering. However, when you focus on purpose then:
The Power of
Purpose Overrides the Pain of Problems!
The power of
purpose, your "So That___!" overrides the pain of your problems. You
must discover your "So That___!" Purpose is the flipside of
problems. Without problems you would have no purpose. Problems,
obstacle and challenges exist So That we can solve
them! That is why we are in the business of life, to serve others
by solving their problems. They, in turn, serve us by solving our
problems. Together, we can overcome any challenge.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when trying to overcome
Lesson #1 focuses on
freedom. While you cannot choose your
conditions, you are entirely free to choose your response to those
conditions. Don't focus on the challenge itself; instead focus on
your choices regarding how to fix the problem. Have a future focus.
Lesson #2 focuses on
responsibility. There are two parts to
responsibility. The first is the ability to respond. I am free to
respond even in the presence of uncertainty. The second part is
that I am free to choose a positive ethical and moral response.
Responsibility implies acting as one ought to act.
Lesson #3 focuses on
purpose. Each of us was put here with
some special-purpose. What music were you put here to make? Make
sure that when it is time to leave this world you do not go with
most of your music still in you. You can create an extraordinary
business. Do not focus on how hard it is to play your music. Focus
instead on the success and happiness your music can bring you.
business and in life you must choose between blame and
responsibility. Overcoming challenges begins by accepting
responsibility. Blaming makes one feel better in that moment. You
feel entitled to a life and a business without any suffering. This
focus on feelings, on rights without responsibilities, and on past
causes never leads to success and inner peace. The only path to
overcoming challenges is to change our focus from what caused the
problem to how to solve the problem.
The three lessons of learning are one of many tools that can help
you understand and overcome challenges while transforming your work
and life from ordinary to extraordinary. Freedom, responsibility and
purpose are the values that emerge from the three lessons of
learning. Using those values we can transform our work and our
lives from an ordinary place where we are overwhelmed by challenges
and problems into an extraordinary place of success and happiness.
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