Quality Magazine

Jim's Gems: Challenges Make Us Stronger

October 30, 2009
When the challenges we face seem to be getting more daunting, it likely means that we're making real progress. As we set challenging goals, the difficulty to succeed usually takes more effort.

When the challenges we face seem to be getting more daunting, it likely means that we're making real progress. On the surface, this may seem strange but it is really simple. As we set challenging goals, the difficulty to succeed usually takes more effort. Challenges grow stronger because we have reached a higher level of effectiveness. In meeting those challenges we will create a path forward where they did not exist before.

What level of challenge are we willing to live with? Understanding that will determine the level of accomplishment we are likely to reach.

Working through the biggest challenges will bring us more satisfying rewards. Real and lasting value is created by solving the most difficult problems.

With each challenge we will grow stronger than ever. As even greater challenges come along, we have the opportunity to climb to the next plateau. After working through a few challenges, we will soon find ourselves looking forward to them. See the real value in the challenge, and we will see the way clear to whatever we choose to accomplish.

Will you always meet the challenges head on and be successful? Not necessarily. It is unreasonable to think we will. To paraphrase a Vince Lombardi (the great legendary football coach and motivator) saying, “winning isn't everything, it is the will to win that is really the outcome we need to seek.”

I used the following saying many times starting in the early 1980s in an attempt to inspire creativity with an outstanding group of people. It is a derivative of a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, but this version fit the situation better and was very helpful to set the tone for this workgroup. It goes, “Go where there is no path, and leave a trail for others to follow.” It is still appropriate today.