With this month’s focus on challenges, setbacks, and failures, I thought I’d share my favorite tool that keeps me grounded both in business and in life.
The tool is actually a philosophy: Whatever is in front of you is your teacher.
I use this phrase every day, when I come up against an obstacle or am feeling anxious or frustrated, to help bring me back to the present. Often times it’s because I’m focusing (fantasizing) on the outcome that I’d like to create, rather than focusing on what’s most important: the task at hand.
We are destined to experience the full emotional spectrum of twists and turns provided by the thrill of human existence. For every high and every low, there is an opportunity to evaluate what went right and what went wrong. Engineers would call it the “improvement” part of our life cycle.
This philosophy is not new by any means, it is however often overlooked or regarded as trivial. However, in my work I often see intelligent people overestimate the power of this assessment tool.
Why is that?
1. Simplicity. Because it is simple in nature, it’s judged as unsophisticated or pedestrian. We’re smart and we like complexities, so simplicity is often associated with the simple-minded.
2. It’s uncomfortable. It places the outcome of any situation on our shoulders. If something doesn’t work out, it asks us to look at why. If forces us to ask ourselves, “What was my role in this outcome?”
One of the reasons that the tool works is because it contributes towards a growth mindset. The mindset is best for problem solving because it opens the mind up to opportunities. When one has a closed mindset they are not open to other possibilities and as a result may miss some crucial piece of the problem.
As entrepreneurs, we want our goals and dreams to become a reality. If we only see one approach, we may miss the crucial opportunity that may help our project, business or life turn the corner.
To counteract this, I’d like to suggest starting with what’s in front of you and the five-foot diameter around you. This is your circle of influence. You can then, as Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”