I am in the Rocky Mountains this week. As I gaze up at the beautiful snow-capped mountains I am also struck by the fact that the peaks are rugged, sheer, and without the appropriate means: insurmountable.
So what do you do when you come up against something that is insurmountable? As a leader what approach do you take when a goal seems impossible to achieve or an obstacle seems impossible to overcome?
I would like to offer a few practical insights to guide you when (not if!) you come up against a sheer and seemingly impassable “mountain”. I will deal with this in two blog posts and will address two things to help you ascend and conquer those mountains. The two primary things that will help you overcome will be 1. Preparing yourself and 2. Gathering the right team and the proper equipment.
So for this post let’s talk about the reality that to overcome insurmountable circumstances you must prepare yourself.
If we feel like we are facing insurmountable circumstances a few bullet points in a blog post certainly won’t be sufficient for us to all of a sudden feel like we have a grasp on something and can tackle it head on, right?! So what do you do when the obstacles seem too many, the ascent too steep, the cost too great?
In these situations I believe the answer lies not by initially addressing the “mountain” in front of you, but rather looking inward to the obstacles within. Sometimes it is our doubts and fears that are the greatest obstacles to be overcome. In our minds we find ourselves in a place where we believe that failure or at least “half-way” is all we can accomplish and as a result we begin giving up sometimes before we even get started.
So how do we change our thoughts, our perspective and even those nagging “feelings” that seem to derail us so quickly?
First, I would say that mountains seem insurmountable when we get overwhelmed by their sheer magnitude. So many times we must break down the expedition into smaller more manageable goals or action steps. You may not really believe you can make it to the top, but the question is: “can I make it to the tree across the clearing”? Breaking things into smaller more manageable steps helps us to develop inner perseverance and our character.
Second, things seem insurmountable when we think about past failures. When we replay in our minds other things that have gone wrong then we start telling ourselves that this too will be futile in light of all the other times we (and others) have failed. To overcome this we must realize that the past is truly gone and what is right in front of us now is where we must live. Ignore the nagging voice of doubt emanating from the past and instead grab hold of the possibility that “this might be the day that…”
Third, mountains seem impossible to overcome when we think about our own personal insufficiencies. The truth is that in and of ourselves we simply are not up to the task. This takes humility and an acceptance of the facts, but should not result in despair or despondency. Instead when we realize that we cannot do it alone it helps us to realize what we are gifted in and what we need others to help us with. When we all work within our strengths it improves our self-confidence and helps us succeed.
I hope these few steps will help you work on your inner thoughts, feelings and character and better prepare for you the next mountain you are going to climb. Tune in next time for the second part of this topic: recruiting the right personnel and gathering the right equipment.
What are your thoughts on insurmountable circumstances?
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