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Posts Tagged ‘challenge’

A few months ago my niece and nephew re-introduced me to jigsaw puzzles. Not the easy kind, either. The difficult 1,000-piece kind, with so many similar color schemes and uniquely shaped pieces that you want to pull all your hair out.
 

At first I was incredibly frustrated as my puzzle skills and the typical puzzle-building strategies didn’t work so well. After a while though, I didn’t mind. I started to notice that working on the puzzle was replacing something I hated but was addicted to – being online. I soon realized how joyous it was to disconnect from my computer and engage my brain with a puzzle.
 

Still, it was frustrating; especially in the beginning when 1,000 scattered puzzle pieces seemed to have no organization, rhyme or reason. I would often stare at the mess of pieces on the table, desperately trying to force together two pieces I thought should connect, but obviously didn’t.
 
 

Finally, tired of failure and my inability to see any patterns, I would walk away from the puzzle. Sometimes I would not return for a day or two.
 
That’s when the magic happened.
 

During that time away it was as if my subconscious took a snapshot of the puzzle and worked on it while I slept and did other things. Miraculously, when I returned to the puzzle, I could instantly fit numerous pieces in place that I previously stared at for hours.
 

This happened every single time I walked away from the puzzle. That’s when I realized the bigger message here.  At some point this year I will be confronted by a challenge that I just can’t see an answer to in the moment.
 
That’s when I should “walk away”.
 

When I bump into that unsolvable problem, that is when I should let the subconscious work on the problem and trust that it will come up with the answer I seek. Nine out of 10 times that time away will bring the clarity I so desperately want and will deliver the answer I desire. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, there is often magic in doing nothing.
 

“Take a walk outside – it will serve you far more than pacing around in your mind.”

— Rasheed Ogunlaru
 

American culture is a one that rewards and celebrates action and busy-ness. There is a lot to be said for that as our country has introduced innovation after innovation to the world. However, that culture has also created a society that favors action over thinking. And as such, we have lost our ability to think, let alone think critically.
 

I’m not sure we even know how to access our thinking anymore, for every second of our life is filled with noise, distraction and the latest technology or social media update.
 

So, here are some things you can do to quiet the mind, access your thinking – and more importantly – let the power of your subconscious effortlessly do the work.

  • Take a walk/Go for a bike ride/Exercise
  • Take a nap/Go to Sleep
  • Go out and have fun with friends.
  • Take a shower/bath.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Read a book.
  • Or, of course, you could build a jigsaw puzzle.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 

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After our recent election, I was drawn to one of my favorite places to hike – Jockey Hollow. Jockey Hollow was the encampment site for our Revolutionary Army for two brutal winters, and the hills and forests of this place are alive with the spirit that gave birth to our country.

 

jockeyhollow4On this particular sunny, fall day I decided to hike a trail I have not hiked before. While hiking, I came to a sign on the trail that indicated the trail turned right, but I saw no trail that way. What I did see, however, was a big hill in front of me, and I LOVE being on the top of hills and mountains. So I abandoned the marked trail and started bushwhacking my way up the hill.

 

The symbolism of this decision was not lost on me since we as a nation are now blazing a new trail and are venturing into uncharted territory.

 

Once on top of the hill, I explored a bit, I enjoyed the view, and I appreciated the accomplishment. From the top of that hill, though, I saw an even bigger hill, and for whatever reason it is in my blood that if there is a higher peak to climb, I MUST climb it. So off I went.

 

Here’s the thing about striving to get to a higher peak. In order to get from one peak to the next we must travel through a valley. As such, we must never fear the low points, for they are simply part of the journey to something greater.

 

When I got to the floor of the valley, I found a beautiful stream trickling over rocks, filling the air with a gurgling meditative rhythm. I sat on a rock, closed my eyes, and just listened, breathed and enjoyed the darkness of the valley shadowed by the rising hill next to me. As I listened, I pondered the fact that I did not hear or see any animals all day, which was odd. Not even a squirrel or bird.

 

After drinking in the moment, I began my ascent up the next hill. The sun was setting, and I hoped that from the next peak I would see a landmark I recognized or perhaps see a trail. I have to admit I was a bit lost and anxious as I did not have any bearing in the forest. When I reached the peak, unfortunately all I saw was more unfamiliar woods. No path. No landmark. No voices. No sound of cars.

 

Doubt crept into the back of my mind and I felt that nervous pit in my stomach that accompanies uncertainty. Now, granted I was hiking in New Jersey, so I knew that if I hiked long enough I would eventually cross a road, but with the sun going down, I also knew I needed to be smart.

 

This is why I love hiking in the woods and venturing down new paths. It tests and challenges my limits. In this moment I could either panic . . . or I could listen and trust.

 

My experience taught me to listen and trust. So I did.

 

After not seeing any animals all day, suddenly a wild turkey appeared. I couldn’t help but think that the turkey was Benjamin Franklin’s favorite bird and that he favored making it the national bird over the bald eagle, at least according to the myth.

 

I followed the turkey over the crest of the hill and as it ran off into the forest I saw a pink ribbon tied to a tree. And then another. And another after that. I followed the trail of ribbons and eventually came to a marked trail, which eventually led me to a road, which eventually led me home.

 

We must not fear new paths. It is in the unknown that we come to know ourselves best. But in order to find our way out of the darkness and uncertainty, we must listen and trust.

 

Hope is like a path in the countryside:
originally there was no path
– yet
as people are walking all the time,
in the same spot,
a path appears.

 

– Lu Xun

 

We all must travel unknown paths at some point in our lives. Whether they are found in a relationship, a career, financial matters, health, or any other domain. At some point we must step onto a new path.

 

We can either take that first step in fear and dread the journey, or we can take it with hope, trusting that it will lead us to new learning, growth, insights and maybe even an amazing adventure. Regardless of where the path may eventually lead, choosing hope and trust, rather than fear, will ensure the journey is more enjoyable.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

 

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I think it would be fair to say that I am an avid outdoor enthusiast. Hiking, biking, walking, kayaking – anything that gets me out in Nature. Others would add that I am an environmentalist, having spent many years protecting the environment and teaching hundreds of young adults to care about the natural world around them.

 

So you can imagine my surprise on a recent kayaking trip down the Delaware River, with osprey and bald eagle circling overhead, when I saw a billboard on the riverbank announcing, “Hot Dog Man Around the Corner.”

 

First of all, rivers don’t have corners, they have bends. Second of all, rather than be upset that such commercialism has polluted the river, something about this just made me smile. As I rounded the bend, I saw close to 100 people in tubes, kayaks and canoes waiting to buy a hot dog or snack.

 

hot dog1When I paddled by, I admired this perfect scene of Americana and thought to myself, “That right there is the entrepreneurial lifeblood that fuels this country.” Someone saw an opportunity – hundreds of people floating down the river each day – and took advantage of it by setting up a mobile snack shack on their boat.

 

This brought to mind a billboard I saw on Interstate 95 a few years ago on the way to Philadelphia which proclaimed, “Microsoft was started during a recession.” I loved both the hope of this message as well as its encouraging, if not bold, challenge to all the dreamers and entrepreneurs in the world. Essentially, it was saying, “Go for it! Don’t be afraid to try!”

 

This is what I love about America and working with entrepreneurs and business owners. They go for it! The blood that courses through their veins is rich with possibility. They see what CAN be, take the risk, and set out to make it reality.

 

In some cultures they would call that magic, for they are creating something from nothing. In America, we call it the entrepreneurial spirit.

 

They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

– Edgar Allen Poe

 

Entrepreneurs and business owners daydream a lot and live in a world of possibility. They are future-focused, proactive and constantly ask themselves, “How can I . . .? They rarely take “no” for an answer and they are the fuel that powers the American workforce.

 

However, I think this is true of Americans as a whole. We daydream a lot. We see things as they can be or as we hope them to be. It is a spirit of possibility that was planted within us at the birth of our country and it is programmed into our DNA . . . which means we are ALL capable of performing magic and transforming our lives if we have the desire.

 

READ HOW THIS APPLIES TO YOUR BUSINESS here.

If you don’t believe that spirit is within you, think back to when you were a kid. That is where you will find the belief you seek. It is still there . . . it is just covered with the dust of adulthood.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzf7u6GPGBA

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