Five Lessons to Help You Turn Challenges into Opportunities

It was the beginning of the twentieth century. Albert Einstein was a well-known physics professor at the university of Zurich. His theories were being compared to the works of Isaac Newton— the father of classical physics. However, this comparison brought Einstein a challenge: while writing a summary of his theory of relativity, Einstein realized that his relativity theory was in stark conflict with Newton’s theory of gravity, the latter being regarded as an impeccable scientific concept hitherto.

Confronting Newtonian Physics was quite a big deal, even for a man as brilliant as Einstein. It took him ten years to resolve the conflict between relativity and gravity; ten years of attempts, errors, more attempts, more errors. But the reward was his greatest masterpiece: his General Theory of Relativity published in November 1915. Einstein was catapulted from a brilliant physicist to a global celebrity.

When presented with a challenge, many of us view it as a liability. However, just like Einstein, you can turn your challenges into opportunities. The following lessons will show you how to do that:

Lesson One: Modify Your Language

The first step towards transforming your challenges into opportunities is to change the way you look at your problems. As a starting point, stop calling them problems or issues; start calling them challenges. It may seem meager but just by changing the terminology, you will start feeling more eager to solve your problems; rather than viewing them as setbacks, you will treat them as opportunities.

Lesson Two: Embrace Change

Most of us can overcome simple problems that we are familiar with; we know their solution, so we can solve them. However, if we don’t know how to tackle them, they become challenges. For instance, imagine you are driving alone and your tire gets burst in the middle of a highway; if you have a spare tire and you know how to change it, you can solve your problem. You will still be frustrated but at least you know how to get out of the situation.  

On the contrary, if you don’t know how to change a tire, this becomes a challenge. You would seek someone’s help, but this also presents an opportunity to learn a new skill. Thus, in a way, challenges are synonymous with change. Humans don’t like unpleasant changes in their routines; that is what makes challenges fearsome. To accept new problems as challenges and transform them into opportunities, start embracing change.

Lesson Three: Keep the Change Sustainable

I was with a friend a couple of weeks back. I had my breakfast in the morning, but he took some herbal juices saying he was following an organic diet plan. By afternoon, he was starving.  Guess what: we had our dinner together and it was mainly junk food. Though he had a diet plan, but it wasn’t sustainable.

As we talk about embracing the change, it is imperative to keep the change sustainable i.e. activities that can be repeated over and over without too much stress. Keep the change sustainable i.e. gradual and repeatable.

Lesson Four: Upgrade the Change Gradually

While it is necessary to keep the change sustainable, it shouldn’t be too small. Starting small makes it more likely to be sustainable but then you need to upgrade gradually. You may start with one pushup on day-one but if you are still doing a single pushup on hundredth day, you shouldn’t expect any visible difference in your body. Yes, you have succeeded in keeping it sustainable, but you should upgrade the change gradually—not drastically— until you find an effective balance.

Lesson Five: Learn the Value of Perseverance

Perseverance is probably the most underrated attribute when we talk about confronting challenges and availing opportunities. Assuming you have accepted an obstacle as a challenge, you are ready to transform that challenge into a growth opportunity, and you have even chalked out a sustainable plan to overcome the challenge; you would still need to be perseverant with your efforts. I take my leave for now by sharing a saying from I Ching, “Perseverance is favorable”.

18 thoughts on “Five Lessons to Help You Turn Challenges into Opportunities

  1. Pingback: Five Professional Lessons From Einstein’s Scientific Career | Five Lessons

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