Updated: Nov 2, 2020
We were probably all in a situation at some point when we couldn’t handle a task, not being able to see the solution to it, thinking it is an impossible one. We might have tried to deal with it from a few approaches, but eventually, we might have given up, blaming it on the conditions, on the economy, or on somebody else.
Likewise, there are people who always seem to know how to get things done and who know how to deal with almost any challenge that comes their way.
What I was trying to understand is why some people are able to do so, and others are not. More specifically, I was trying to understand why some leaders are able to teach us, to inspire us to become such a person, to be resourceful and ready for any obstacle, while others are not, even though they could have same resources available to them and maybe even same level of experience.
The answer to this lies in our mindset. If you have ever worked with a manager or a leader who sets expectations and goals so high, so that everyone’s first reaction in the room would be: “That can’t be done” or” It’s impossible”, then you know who I am talking about. Liz Wiseman calls this type of leader a Challenger.
So before you find yourself working on a mutual, “impossible” goal with someone, what would come useful is immersing yourself into one of your own, personal “impossible” goals first. Have you ever tried something like that?
Setting at least one personal goal as such can make you more receptive to the idea of dealing with a challenge itself, as you would find yourself thinking in ways you might never have before. Trying to find solutions in many different ways and places are what sparks creativity, and what makes you more resourceful, as a result.
If you remember the girl from “The Devil Wears Prada” movie, always being challenged with all sorts of tasks from her boss, how she fumbled with her job and all of her duties seemed impossible to her. She could not deal with any of them, and yet, day after day she was under another challenge until she got it; Until she has developed exactly that kind of mindset needed to find solutions, that made her look for answers where she has never looked before.
After looking at the same situation after a while, or from a different perspective, it became clear to me that when I was under challenging assignments myself, the reasons why I could not do something was either because I was not looking at the right places or I was not asking enough questions.
Being able to do something, that at first, seems impossible, naturally, requires asking a lot of questions. It involves a lot of “how” and “why” because a curious mind is a tool that can lead us to achieve our goals.
Some leaders seem to be quite comfortable with telling the team what to do, what needs to be done, and in what way, but in the end, they are rarely the ones who inspire action from anyone or would be even open to taking extra steps on their own.
If you find yourself working on something that seems “impossible”, remember that
“Success is 99% failure.” If you are trying to do the impossible, you should understand from the beginning that you might fail. And rather than fearing the possibility of failure, try to embrace the positives that come along with it.
After working with different types of leaders through different stages in my career, I have realized that people who have challenged me most were actually the ones who thought me the most valuable lessons.
Leadership does not come without some amount of hardships and challenges, and for sure it is not just about delegating.
Author: Ana Smiljkovic
Ana is a certified HR and L&D professional, focused on growth and education, helping people develop their potential through learning key soft skills for career building, with a particular interest in resilience in the workplace