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We all experience multiple challenges during our life. Some are out of our control, some are within our control, while the rest are somewhere in between. Here, I am focusing on the challenges where you have a choice. You can say yes or no! You can choose to go for it or not. It’s your decision!
Let’s start with a brain game. How many words can you make using the letters in CHALLENGE only once? Write down as many as you can before you read any further.
It’s easy to make smaller words like HALL, CAN, HELL, GEL, AGE, NAG and GEN. Maybe you found some longer words like CHANGE or EAGLE. What’s the longest word you made? (Hint: it’s seven letters).
Did you give up quickly or stick with it? Maybe you became frustrated, determined or bored! A challenge is not meant to be easy. If we don’t feel stretched, some pressure or even uncomfortable, are we really challenging ourselves?
In 2016, I was an athlete for Team Australia in an outdoor sports & survival competition in Bali, Indonesia. It became a reality TV series produced in the Netherlands, called the Photonis Ultimate Forces Challenge Bali Edition. This totally unexpected opportunity came along less than three weeks before the competition started.
Although I felt some nervousness and fear about what to expect, with limited time to prepare both individually and as a team, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. My wife wasn’t as enthusiastic when I first asked her to join the Aussie team. Her first question to me was, “Is it one of those shows where everyone is naked on the beach?” She was relieved when I answered no. She was unsurprised that I was disappointed it wasn’t…
So off we went. The rest is history, a pivotal moment that set off a chain reaction of personal growth and improved wellbeing.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines a challenge as “(the situation of being faced with) something that needs great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a person’s ability.” A pretty good description, I reckon.
When I hear the word challenge, I am interested in knowing more. I am not up for every challenge that comes my way, however. I believe in my law of attraction to challenges. While I am incredibly happy and thankful for my life and the people around me, challenges create personal growth and opportunities.
A challenge doesn’t have to be complex or time-consuming to require great mental and/or physical effort. A challenge can be over in minutes or take years to achieve success. A new challenge can often result in mistakes or failure. Overcoming this creates new challenges that often stop people from ever trying again.
A tremendous challenge for me over many years was living with an undiagnosed mental health condition. In my case, it was depression, and life was hard for not just me, but also the people closest to me. Seeking professional help and treatment from mid-2012 was the step that started improving my quality of life. I am a significantly healthier and happier person today thanks to my professional and personal support network, hard work, lifelong learning and the marvel of neuroplasticity.
Challenging myself continually improves my level of resilience, agility, confidence and resourcefulness. I have better skills for managing my emotions and stress levels. I take on new challenges without fear of failure, looking silly or uncertainty stopping me. For example, I am a multiple Ironman triathlete, TV actor, I founded a company and I speak publicly about mental health.
A new challenge may not be exciting, fun or a mind-blowing experience. It can be dull, repetitive and you may even ask if it is worth the effort. Is the reward greater than the “pain” required to achieve success? Neuroscience explains the chemical reactions that drive our responses to rewards and threats. Understanding this is valuable for managing our level of wellbeing, and the i4 Neuroleader Program provides the answers.
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour, but without folly.
Going back to my original question, what was the longest word you made from CHALLENGE? The longest word is actually seven letters and spells NACELLE. Did I find it? Yep, but only on the Internet and I had also never heard of the word before. Lesson learnt and now I’m onto my next challenge! What’s your next challenge?
If you are looking for a new challenge which will support your leadership methods, consider exploring the i4 Neuroleader Program and The About my Brain Institute. We develop brain-friendly leaders, teams and cultures through transformational experiences, digital tools and practical leadership training.
About my Brain Institute
As the About my Brain Institute's President for Asia, Garry’s passion and commitment is to help people and organisations achieve prosperity and fulfilment by integrating leadership and culture development with brain science.
Since the mid 1990s, Garry has worked in a range of sectors and roles, both in Australia and overseas. He has had a wide and exciting variety of roles including; the former bodyguard to the Australian Prime Minister and other world leaders, in which he lead complex and challenging operations. Garry was also a Victoria police officer, Australian federal police agent, specialist law enforcement training instructor & manager.
In addition to his public service roles, he has also been a jackaroo, radio presenter and a TV personality representing Australia as an athlete on Foxtel and Netflix for an international outdoor sports & survival reality TV series. Garry has an active sports life as an Ironman triathlete.
Garry is also a member of Beyond Blue’s Ambassador & Speaker Bureau, where he shares his story of recovery from depression back in 2012. His aim to help people feel supported and take action. He also offers tips to help people understand more about depression.
Today, Garry helps people and teams achieve what he likes to describe as a ‘calmer influence inside the chaos’. Garry is an experienced coach, facilitator, speaker and mentor for executives, professional & elite athletes, developing leaders, small businesses, teams & organisations across various industries and government.