Tag Archives: Learning from Others

Obstacles or Opportunities

Motivation conceptThere are times when you run into a challenge or a problem that you just have to figure out how to get around.  It seems like these times always come at the worst possible moment, when you are swamped with things to do, have pressing deadlines or you have reach the point of burnout and need a break.  Whenever these occur keep in mind that they can be a road block or they can be an opportunity to learn.  How you handle it as a leader or project manager will impact the team around you as well.  You set the tone for the rest of the team.

I know that it’s become cliché to say “we don’t have problems we have opportunities” however there is a great mindset hidden in those words.  If you look at every problem as a challenge or an obstacle than they will often keep you from moving forward.  If you turn your thinking around you can look for the opportunity to learn a new skill or finally defeat an old fear.  It really is up to you.

To help you shift your mindset to looking past the obstacles here are 5 strategies:

  1. Stay positive:  Avoid falling into the mindset that things never go well, that bad things happen, or that this will never work.  Focus on the end result or goal, and take time to look at the good things that are happening.
  2. Avoid pessimists:  You will find people who are like Eeyore who think everything is horrible and doom and gloom.  Avoid them at all costs.  Spend your time around people who accept that stuff happens but look for a way forward.  Who you spend time with will impact your ability to bounce back.
  3. Be grateful:  Yes it sounds trite and it can be hard to do when things get tough.  However, there are always things around you that are good so take the time to notice and appreciate them.  Say thank you to people who help you with your challenges.
  4. Be open:  Odds are there is something new you can learn to solve the problem so be open to new ideas, new methods, and new thoughts.  These will help you find new solutions and get past the challenge quicker.  If you want to move beyond where you are today you need to develop new skills and new knowledge.  Look for those nuggets within your current challenge.
  5. Relax:  The good news is that this too shall pass.  Nothing stays great or horrible forever.  There are times when you just have to hang on and let things improve with time.  Sit back take some deep breaths and clear your mind for a few moments.  Shut out the negative thoughts and pressures to just calm yourself.  Find time to unwind from the pressures for even 10 minutes and you will be better ready to get back to it.

While these are all simple things it can be tough to accomplish them when you feel like everything is going wrong.  It takes discipline and resolve to keep these in your mind as you are facing a challenge or obstacle.  Keep calm and it will work out.

It is important to surround yourself with people who will help by giving you ideas, support or just a shoulder to lean on.  Who you are with has a huge impact on your thoughts and feelings.  There are people you can’t avoid who may be “Debby Downers” and want to suck everyone down with them.  Work with them when needed and avoid them otherwise.  Go to lunch with people who will make you smile and laugh not ones who will moan and groan the whole time.  Pick your surroundings carefully.

Focus is a critical component of creating a mindset that helps you get past the obstacles in your path.  The more you focus on the good in your world the more good you will see so the more good there will be in your world.  It doesn’t mean that negative things will never happen, they will but how you react to them determines the outcome of those events.  If you focus on problems you will have problems everywhere.

Whether you are faced with an obstacle or an opportunity to grow is up to you.  How you view the situation will determine which one of these things experiences you have.  Look for the positive in a bad situation and you will find your way out of the ugliness more easily.

Albert Einstein said it best “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  Choose your thinking carefully and make it a great opportunity to learn.


Filed under Personal Development, Project Management

Are You Learning?

Businessman sleeping at the presentationThis past weekend I attended an amazing seminar where there were several speakers.  I learned a lot from each one of them.  In all honesty there was one who really did not resonate with me at all.  He had great content but his delivery left me kind of cold, his style was not mine at all.  This on top of a conversation about can we learn from people we don’t respect rally got me thinking about how much information we can learn from people we don’t like.

As leaders it is important to keep learning about your organization, your industry, your customers and how to be a better leader.  This may mean taking the time to learn from people who are not in your current circle of friends and colleagues.  In fact, I would challenge you to take the time to learn from people you don’t like or are unsure if you would like.

Why learn from people who you don’t like or respect?  First they will have a very different view of the world which will broaden your view.  You may not ever agree with their ideas or opinions and that’s okay.  However, if you take the time to listen and understand their perspective it will give you information about how others see things and you might find new nuggets of information that help you move forward.  Additionally, by looking at things from a different perspective you may uncover new solutions or ideas on how to make your products better or more valuable to your customers.  Lastly, you may discover new uses or customers for your products or services.

If you only learn from people who are like you or who hold similar ideas and values you are missing out on new aspects of the world.  The wonderful thing about the current times is how small the world has become through technology.  Having the ability to connect and relate to others is now at our fingertips.  To make the most of these connections it is imperative that we take the time to listen to others and hopefully find common ground.  This allows us to develop deeper connections with others.  In a leadership role you will have many occasions where you will work with someone you really don’t like and yet you must find a way to work with them.  Learning to connect and find that common ground is a key to being successful.  This skill can be developed by looking around you and finding ways to learn from everyone who crosses your path.

You can learn from anyone and everyone.  It may be that you learn what not to do or how not to act.  It may be that you learn a new way of doing things or new behaviors.  Or it may be that you learn to see the world in new ways through new eyes.  All of these are valuable lessons and may come from people you like and respect or from people that are distasteful to you.  Any way you look at it, learning is the key to growth.  As leader make learning a part of your day, each and every day.


Filed under Communication, Leadership