31/05/2016 12:19 BST | Updated 01/06/2017 06:12 BST

Facing Challenge - Fight, Flight or Delight?

When was the last time you looked fear squarely in the eye and said- "Get lost I'm going for it!"

In our lives there are times we are tested, challenged and asked to question our own strength. I faced the challenge of rebuilding my life after the train crash and have faced many challenges since. So, I have come to understand that when facing challenge there are times when you have to fight the fear, run like hell in the other direction or enjoy and relish the opportunity.

In business we face challenges daily, some are matters of survival, others are opportunities that can be great or just too much to handle. I have written about these on my personal blog. In our own lives we sometimes have to make decisions that fill us with fear and our adrenaline kicks in and we have a choice, run or stand and fight. Because we have evolved from primitive man our intellect can recognise this but that, too, can complicate matters. We can overthink the decision and the result is a sort of paralysis a kind of "rabbit in the headlights" reaction where we stare at the oncoming car and are unable to move.

So how do we face challenges and come out the other side relatively unscathed? Generally speaking, forearmed is forewarned. In other words, the best way to handle challenges is to have some kind of strategy in place before the challenge arises. Of course most challenges hit us from left field, are unexpected and may take our breath away. However, if we have a kind of "go to" strategy already in our pocket, we can handle the unexpected in a calmer fashion.

A strategy for managing challenges

  1. Identify your own triggers. There is stuff we are all scared of, let's be honest. The tax man, spiders, flying, heights, embarrassment, losing face, losing money, losing love... It is important to know what pushes your buttons and to work out a way to handle your reaction when those buttons are pushed.
  2. Remind yourself this is temporary. When we are scared of something it feels like it is a never -ending nightmare and we are stuck in a loop of fear. This is not actually true if you can take a deep breath and step back for a moment. Consider, what's the worst that can actually happen? You might feel scared, but there is no sabre toothed tiger attacking you - it is just internal fear, imagined fear, the threat is not physical.
  3. Remember, FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real BUT there are times when it is better to adopt a flight strategy... so consider the potential risks when you decide to face a challenge.
  4. Write down two columns - one- benefits of succeeding at the challenge and - two - costs of doing the challenge
  5. Don't let pride, hubris or arrogance dictate the outcome. Are you biting off more than you can chew because you don't want to be seen as a failure? What other people think of you is an important part of our self-esteem but it should not dictate our actions.


Image created by Sarah Vitale

Fight response

Some people are better at rising to the occasion than others. If you feel that your very being is threatened by the challenge and it must be met- select your tactics carefully. Realistically assess the cost of the fight and what resources you need to meet the challenge. Enlist help, we rarely succeed on our own and it is strength to acknowledge you need support in dealing with difficult situations.

Flight response

Do not beat yourself up over walking away from a challenge. Often, we are simply not ready, at that time to meet the challenge. Interestingly, when I have walked away, the opportunity has presented itself again later when I am more ready to handle it.

Delight response

Some challenges have extraordinary rewards so revel in them. Being bloody minded and deciding you can do it against all odds can sometimes work but is usually a one-off situation. Careful planning and strategy is a more effective approach. Whatever you do, having decided to meet the challenge, don't give up half way. You deserve the rewards at the end and your hard work will pay off if you keep your resolve. It may be a bumpy ride but it can also be exhilarating and it is part of growing as a person to stretch yourself occasionally and achieve a seemingly impossible goal.

I would be interested to know what challenges you have overcome and which you have walked away from? Let me know in the comments below and do share this post with your friends (especially ones facing challenges right now).