How to See Challenges as Opportunities

Don't think you can stay in your comfort zone and keep learning.

Posted Nov 05, 2016

In everyday life, we will be faced every so often with important decisions about new challenges—such as whether to apply for a new job or start a new course. Taking on such challenges is an important part of growing and developing as a person. The more we can test our limits and capabilities, the more we will learn about ourselves. New challenges are opportunities for us.

However, we don't always see it that way. When we take on new challenges, we also have to face the possibility of failure. Rather than seeing the opportunity in the situation, often, we focus on what it will be like to fail.

As a result, embarking on a new challenge can be frightening, and the fear of failure can be too much to bear. In these cases, we may avoid the challenge altogether and carry on down the same path we were on. We make some excuse to ourselves so that we can stay in our comfort zone.

But the truth is that staying in your comfort zone—particularly when you do so out of fear—is not always exactly comfortable. By avoiding challenges, we don’t have the opportunities to learn about ourselves. We feel trapped—as if we were leading a life that is not true to ourselves. We are plagued by discomfort, anxiety, and the niggling sense that things are not quite right.

There are times and places when we might want to avoid a challenge for good, realistic reasons. The trouble comes, however, when we don’t recognize that we are making excuses. Perhaps, deep down, we are frightened of what other people might say and of what we might learn about ourselves. But instead of acknowledging that, we tell ourselves that now is not a good time, or that this isn't the right opportunity. In reality, it is our fear talking. 

To lead an authentic life, we need to take on new challenges that stretch us and give us more opportunities to be ourselves. It is not that the authentic person does not feel the same fear; rather, they are simply more willing to face their fear.

Authentic people won’t let their path in life be dictated by what others think. They are open to new experiences and cherish the challenges of learning about themselves, but they know that it is like crossing a river on stepping stones—there is always the possibility of getting wet.

The question is not how to lead a life in which we never feel the fear of failure, but rather, how we can move forward despite our fear. Are we able to transform our fear into an enthusiasm to engage with the new challenge and learn from it?  

To learn more about authenticity, check out my book: Authentic: How to Be Yourself and Why It Matters.