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Developing Your Ability to Tackle Challenges



There are only a few things that nauseate me more than eggs. However, I can’t tell you one cogent reason why I find it so irritating. A few years ago, my excuse was that I always imagined a chick was inside the egg and so in the process of biting into the egg, I would bite off the head of the chic and have blood dripping from my mouth. With my mind’s eye I can still see myself sitting at the kitchen table with a few slices of bread on my plate and my cup of tea in my hands gently swinging my legs back and forth as I munched bread and sipped on my tea while the house help shelled the eggs (mine and those of my siblings). My memory of this is quite hazy but I can still see her tossing my egg gently into my plate and saying “eat your egg quick quick before the ‘shicken’ go commot!”. Fearing that there was actually a chick in it, I just took the few slices of bread I had left in my plate and pushed the plate back to her! And so was the ‘seed of disgust for eggs’ sown in my juvenile mind.

The other day, My friend said to me “babes, you have to change your mindset about eggs; you have to learn to think outside the box on this matter!” and I just replied sarcastically “I do not remember being inside any box!” and then she said “you are so firmly inside the box that you do not even realise that you are inside a box!”

And I think this happens to many of us in other facets of life; we are so firmly rooted inside the box that we do not even realise that we are in any box. We are so stuck with our old ways of reasoning and doing things that even when crises comes, we just continue to maintain status quo because we are totally oblivious to the fact that things can be done differently and I think this is the attitude that causes failure most times.

Writer, Clarence Harvey told this story: “One summer as I was packing to spend three months with my relatives at a lake, my dad asked me to take my gold fish with me, because he did not want to have to take care of it all summer. The day after we got to the lake, I decided to become a liberator. I went down to the dock with my fish bowl and gave my fish a little talk. ‘I am going to throw you into this lake,’ I said. ‘You will be free. You will be able to eat very well here and grow up to be a big fish.’ When I put the fish in the water at the end of the dock, it stayed right there. I backed off, thinking the fish was attached to my shadow. But when I moved back to be sure it was gone, it was still right there. I even threw a stone into the water to scare it away, but the gold fish just swam around it. “When I came back after lunch, the gold fish was still there, swimming in the same spot. I sat down and thought that fish should be free. It’s got the whole lake to swim in. Suddenly I saw a huge ripple in the water. Splash!! A big bass swallowed my goldfish. Later in life someone told me that a goldfish, once it has lived in a circumference of a particular size, has been conditioned to think small. It will stay there until it dies- swimming in that particular small circle.

The truth is that many times we behave like the gold fish; even when we are out of the box (i.e. crises has thrown us out of our comfort zone and nothing is as it used to be) we still try to use yesterday’s abilities and method of reasoning to face today’s problems whereas we may need to take advantage of the new possibilities and space that crises creates, break off unprofitable relationships and change the course of our life; do a total mindset reset and reinvent the wheel (the wheel being us) for those problems to be solved.

Here is an experiment that illustrates this: It is an experiment carried out by Jacques Loeb, M.D., PH.D in which a potted rose bush was brought into a room and placed in front of a closed window. The plant was allowed to dry out, and so the parasites who were previously wingless changed to winged insects. After the metamorphosis, the parasites left the plants and flew to the window and then crept upward on the glass. Because they found out that the plant on which they had been thriving was dead and that they could therefore no longer secure anyting to eat and drink from that source. Thus the only method they could use to save themselves was to grow temporary wings and then fly! If a lesser order of life could grow wings in order to tackle a challenge it faced, it is obvious that defeat comes only to those who refuse to develop their inherent abilities to tackle new challenges.

On the flip side, there are people who use the ‘siddon look’ approach ,whereby they just sit with folded arms watching and believing that time would sort things out but he truth is that time doesn’t solve problems, time only tells the time. If you do not do something about it, you would look back five years down the line and realise that you are still facing the same challenge.

Also, there are people who face challenges and their knee-jerk thought/desire is to return to status quo; which is one of the greatest sins against one’s destiny. A good example is the children of Israel who at every point they were faced with challenges of water or food or enemies, just desired to go back to Egypt and remain slaves. It is important to embrace crises and approach it with a heart of gratitude.

When faced with challenges, gather knowledge on the facts on ground; do not go into denial or trade blames, nor delegate the challenges. Be willing to keep an open mind and be open to doing things differently. Also try to identify attitudes, mindsets and characteristics that lessen your ability to change your thinking patterns.

Another thing that can help you think outside the box in other to tackle new challenges is to read biographies about how people responded when faced with similar situations and adapt their solutions to your current situations. Understand that in solving problems, some people are blessed with the ability to come up with new and creative solutions; so do not feel bad or less intelligent when you read about how others solved similar problems because you keep wondering why your brain could not independently come up with such solutions.

Photo Credit: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ Anwana Umo is an economist who is passionate about issues relating to personal development. She is the CEO of ‘House of Umo'(an outfit that designs and makes ankara bags). She is also a writer and publisher of You can follow her @umoscoop.

Umo Anwana is an Economist with a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She is a fashion entrepreneur as well as a writer and manages an Instagram page @naijaentreprenuerscity where she shares free resources, tested business principles, business case studies and insights to empower small business owners in order to significantly increase their understanding, knowledge base and capacity to grow their business by increasing sales, market share, customer loyalty, managing profits, e.t.c . @naijaentreprenuerscity is also an interactive page where small business owners can share their challenges, experiences and lessons learnt from running a business in Nigeria.

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