Present time of uncertainty isposing new challenges for each one of us. These challenges may be at a personal level, sometimes at the organizational level, or at societal level or even at global level, ranging on various grounds like health, environmental, professional, economical, behavioral, ethical etc. Under such strained circumstances when one doesn’t know why did that challenge arouse or who is responsible for it, or for how long will it last- whether it will just go away and things will be alright or whether it is going to last for quite long or maybe for your lifetime- the level of stress rises high, fading the vision to move ahead, diluting hope of success and discoloring the portrait of happiness that was to be achieved through our now seemingly futile efforts. When all options fail, the patience and ethical strength of an individual often declines and they are tempted to adopt ‘quick fixes’ to mend up the situation by hook or by crook. Even though it seems that the challenge has subsided for a moment, but the individual enters into an endless loop of stress, fear, distrust, unethical behavior, which will ultimately accumulate for a later time, as a multi-fold times bigger challenge.
To deal with such a challenge and still sustain the ethical behavior, self respect, honor, inner strength, growth and success, let’s first understand the meaning of challenge from a new perspective, the very reason of its existence and ways to deal with it.
* What is a Challenge?
• Any change that we are not used to- is a challenge. Like for a small child riding a bicycle might be a challenge until he has learnt it. Once he knows how to ride a cycle, he can do it comfortably and riding that bicycle is no more a challenge for him.
• Any change is a challenge only till you have gained the inner strength or skills to face it and cope up with it. Like in the case of the child who has mastered the skill to ride a cycle, even the change of cycle will not be a challenge because cycle itself was never the challenge.
• No journey is without speed-breaker. Similarly, no life is without challenge. I can’t avoid a road with speed-breakers; what I need is a strong internal shock absorbing suspension system in my car. Similarly, I can’t avoid or escape challenges; I need a higher amount of internal shock absorbing stability system. Just as our speed reduces upon encountering a speed breaker, our pace for achieving success reduces momentarily when there comes a challenge. Through a better or enhanced coping ability or skills, that act as shock absorbing suspension system, we can overcome the challenge and regain our speed… the journey never halts…
Thus, challenges come our way and is a means to enhance our knowledge and increase our coping ability.Looking through this perspective, we realize that we are just one step away from overcoming even the biggest of the challenges, by acquiring the appropriate skills or the coping ability.
Events are what one makes of them. How you look at challengemakes a lot of difference as it determines how you cope with it. After this understanding, of what a challenge is, it would be beneficial for us to know the silent message a challenges brings forth us.
• Challenges are indicative of progress-
When we are driving on a straight road- there are a number of turns. But this number increases drastically (with more of blind turns) when we are going up theslope of a mountain. Higher the slope-more the turns-higher is the acceleration needed. Similarly, greater the target or learning, bigger is the challenge awaiting us and stronger is the determination and effort needed. And the best result is derived not from large scale efforts, but from well focused and elevated efforts.
• Challenges indicate that there is a need to transform-
Any challenge that comes our way brings along2 choices for us. One of the choices is that you alter the difficulties in order to remove the challenge; which is not always possible or feasible as every challenge is not within the purview of modification or manipulation. Another choice is that you alter yourself to overcome the challenge. There have been various cases in the history of mankind where rulers were defeated, dynasties were doomed, kingdoms were lost, businesses perished and organizations became extinct due to complacency in the face of challenge and inefficiency to transform as per the challenge approaching them. There is a possibility that a challenge removed or avoided or altered can come back to you and haunt you later. But the challenge that you had overcome by up-skilling yourself, can never rise back to disturb you. Thus, challenge is an opportunity for us to transform.
• Challenges indicate the quality of our choice-
“If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got”
Challenges born out of our past actions or decisions are indicative of the quality of our choices as the challenge I am experiencing at this moment is the result of choices and decisions made in the past. Thus, choice of action one has and that one executes while dealing with a situation is something in one’s control, while the challenge born out of it is out of the scope of control. Moreover, the challenge I may experience in the future depends on the choices and decisions I make now. Thus, these challenges are a means for self evaluation of our quality of choice.
* How to face challenges and ensure sustainable growth?
• Facing the Challenge ||Acceptance over Resistance & Embracing over Fleeing –
Acceptance of the change is the first step towards the change. Resisting a change or adopting an ostrich approach to ignore it doesn’t help. It has to be understood distinctly that unless we accept the problem, we cannot look for the right solution.
Fleeing from a situation could be like dose of pain-killer at the time of challenge, not making us realize the pain and plight of the situation but it cannot eliminate it. The situation has to be analyzed, examined, operated and conquered! This change of choice requires serious daring. Start this daring from within and it will be easily extended to others.
But it is also to be appreciated that we all are at different levels of readiness for change. Being sensitive to the underlying feelings of others is the acceptance that they seek and if there is resistance, it has to be understood.
• Facing the Challenge ||Self transformation doesn’t mean to lose away-
“It is better to bend than to break”
Whenever there arises a question of implementing a change, there is a hesitation to transform the self or adjust to the change. The main reason is that each one of us has a personal comfort zone and even the very thought of coming out of it makes a person feel not only uncomfortable but also susceptible to failure becauseadjustment to a change is often considered as losing away one’s choice or freedom or giving up one’s comfort. It has to be made very clear that through transformation of the self, there could besomething to gain from the impending change.
Self transformation doesn’t necessarily mean to completely do away with the roots of the self. It means to fill up the gaps in one’s personality and skills- which may require breaking the orthodox or rudimentary belief systems and delegation of present responsibilities by realizing that the old ways aren’t going to work any longer, giving way for new and betterthings to take its place. But when instead of this, we tend to leave our roots and try to superficially polish the self to avoid a challenge;it degrades the self by creating craters and scars on our personality.
Moreover, when we take the pressure off, we often tend revert to our old behaviour. Thus, we need to understand the benefit of the transformation, create a vision and an action plan to follow and therefore completely rule out the possibility of the challenge boomeranging in future.
• Facing the Challenge ||Sense of cooperation-
“As such I may be a drop, but together we are an ocean !”
“Why always Me?!” “When will it end?” These are a few thoughts that pop up in our mind when we face a challenge. This is mainly because we feel that we are the only one who has to transform in the face of challenge or combat the change.However, we fail to recognize that we are not alone as everyone in the system is going through the same change or similar challenge. And even if the challenge we are facing is exclusive, others too have their own challenge. Being compassionate towards others and aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the self, we can develop a mutual sense of cooperation with everyone in the system so that even the biggest of the challenge can be dealt by bringing together the specialities of all; which further enhances the good will and team spirit in the system.
• Facing the Challenge ||Understanding the Law of Karma-
Every cause has an effect. Sometimes the effect is pleasant and sometimes it isn’t. Usually, a good effect or outcome is referred to as ‘luck’ and the undesired outcome is termed as ‘challenge’. By observing the effect, we can estimate the quality of cause.
Understanding this law of cause and effect (law of karma), we are able to face challenges with strength knowing that it is somewhere linked to our decisions or actions of the past. This develops patience and tolerance to flow with the change and let the hard phase of life pass smoothly.
The awareness of this law also alerts us to sow fruitful seeds of elevated actions to prepare ground for desired outcomes.
• Facing the Challenge ||Building Up the Armour of Values-
To overcome any challenge, we need the ability to discern the situation, take the right decision and while doing that, maintain our vale system. Discerning the purpose of the situation or challenge and the purpose of my being is the first step of finding the solution. Next is to create a vision and bring our values into action to overcome the hurdles. The ability to bring your vision and values into actions rests on our mental powers. As the external environment becomes more unpredictable, awareness of our inner powers becomes more important.
Rajyoga Meditation is the technique to connect with the self, which is a reservoir of virtues that we seek to establish outside. We expect the virtues to be implemented and practiced for sustainable growth, but seldom realize that just as whatever we see in the mirror is our reflection; similarly, whatever happens with us is a reflection of whatever has been done through us. It gives us the opportunity to explore ourselves to find out what is it that I stand for and what are those strengths that I posses through which I can overcome the challenge. It enhances our salient qualities like introspection, flexibility, creativity, self confidence, determination, truthfulness, cooperation and many more. Thus, Rajyoga Meditation helps us to first go within to touch base with the virtuous self, enhance our inner powers, build up the armour of values to prepare ourselves to face the challenges.