Facing challenges head on

By Carli Uys

Industrial Psychologist (PS 0151149) Head of Design, Research and Development (MCom Industrial Psychology and MCom Communication studies)

Every year we are faced with new challenges, and most of the time we feel overwhelmed and have no idea how we are going to face them. We don’t realise that the challenge itself is not the real issue, but our relationship with the challenge is. This means that when we face a challenge our view of the challenge and our perception of our own abilities bring about difficulty and suffering when trying to overcome the challenge. For most of us, the first thing we do when we are faced with a challenge, is to complain about it or resist it. We do not see the challenge as something that can help us grow, that can be enjoyable or help us improve in how we face challenges.

Facing a challenge head on is all about your mindset. You either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. When you have a fixed mindset you tend to avoid challenges, you give up easily, and you become intimidated or threatened by the success of other people, especially when they overcome challenges. A fixed mindset can lead you to think in a negative way about the challenges and your abilities to overcome the challenge. You believe that your intelligence and talent is something you are born with, and that it is just who you are. You feel that if you avoid a challenge, you avoid failure.

If you have a growth mindset, you view intelligence, abilities and talents as something that can be learnt and that you are capable of improving over time. With a growth mindset you believe that you can gain the knowledge and the necessary skills to be able to overcome a challenge and succeed. This leads to you viewing every challenge as a learning opportunity.

With a growth mindset you can overcome the resistance to the challenge. You believe that your intelligence and talent can be improved through effort and actions which will lead to you overcoming the challenge. Even if you face setbacks, you view them as a necessary part of the learning process, and it can allow you to bounce back quicker and increase your motivation to overcome the challenge.

According to Jennifer Smith, with a growth mindset you are more likely to:

  • Embrace a mindset of lifelong learning
  • Believe that your intelligence can improve based on the challenges you are facing
  • You are more likely to put in the necessary effort to learn
  • You believe that putting in effort leads to mastery of the challenge
  • You believe that failing is merely a temporary setback
  • You view feedback from others as a source of information and an opportunity to learn
  • You are more willing to embrace challenges
  • You view other people’s success of overcoming a challenge as a source of inspiration

A few things to focus on when building growth mindset:

Be Mindful – To be aware of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Being mindful can help you be more aware of the challenge and how you are reacting to it, how you are experiencing it and how it is emotionally impacting you. By being aware of this, you are able to distinguish between what is truly a challenge for you and what is not. Mindfulness can help you determine why you see it as a challenge, why you might not view yourself as capable of successfully overcoming the challenge, and help you focus on succeeding rather than failing.

Become ResilientTo be able to withstand and recover from any difficulties you are facing. Being resilient does not mean that you won’t experience stress, emotional upheaval or doubt when faced with a challenge. It means that you are able to turn your bad stress into good stress which will push you forward rather than hold you back. It will help you to understand why you feel emotional when faced with a challenge and turn the negative emotions into positive emotions. Being resilient allows you to turn your doubts about your abilities into certainty.

Have GritTo have passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. Having grit will help you to persevere when faced with a challenge and drive you to achieve and succeed. If you do not have grit, your intelligence and talents will not get you far, as it is only with effort that your talents become a skill that can lead you to succeed.

Have Self-empowermentTo make a conscious decision to take charge of your life, you need to make positive choices, take action and be confident in your own abilities to make and execute your decisions. This can help you to overcome any challenge you face by understanding your strengths and development areas and by knowing this can motivate you to learn and achieve what you want to. You need to focus on your drive to want to overcome the challenge, to identify what you can control, and to keep an objective, and growth mindset.

Focus on Self-regulationthis is your ability to control your behaviour, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit to achieve goals or overcome challenges. It can help you to regulate your emotions by managing disruptive emotions and impulses – to think before you act. It also involves having the ability to rebound from disappointments and to act in a way that is in alignment with your values. When faced with a challenge, emotions can run high, and we can say and do things that we might regret. When you understand the root cause of your emotions toward a certain challenge, you can better understand how to control your emotions, behaviours, and thoughts. This can help you to see the challenge as only a challenge, and not as an issue in itself. Your relationship with the challenge will change, and you will have more control over the challenge, and not the challenge having control over you.

When you are faced with a challenge, move away from a fixed mindset and move towards a growth mindset and see how differently you approach the challenge and how the outcome changes into what you envisioned.

I hope that this blog will help you to overcome any challenge you face this year, and that it will yield only the best possible results for you.

Until the next blog, cheers.

How to be the best you

By Carli Uys

Industrial Psychologist (PS 0151149) Head of Design, Research and Development (MCom Industrial Psychology and MCom Communication studies)

After a good, but emotionally difficult year at thinking fusion AFRICA, a new year has arrived. We are setting our sights on achieving greater heights this year and to improve as a company. Every year we strive to be the best in our industry, and this requires a lot of focus, dedication, and motivation. This is not just true for us at thinking fusion AFRICA, but also for every organisation. Every year employees and organisations strive to be better than they were the year before. To be able to achieve this, a few tools can be used to make sure that you achieves success and that you are the best you this year.

The first and most important tool we urge people to use, is a learning journal. By putting thoughts down on paper, you set goals, realise your strengths and development areas, you become more creative, and you can reflect back on things that you wanted to improve on. You can record your experiences, thoughts and emotions. By putting your thoughts onto paper, you clear your mind so you can focus on what is important for your success, as well as what you need to accomplish to be the best you. Here are a few other benefits of keeping a journal.

  1. It can help you to achieve your goals. This can help you to keep better track of what you want to achieve and how best to achieve it. It then keeps you accountable and serves as a reminder of what you still need to accomplish and by when you want to accomplish it. Only you can keep yourself accountable for the goals you set, and only you will know if you have not achieved them or not. The only person you will disappoint is yourself.
  2. You can track your progress based on your goals you have set, emotional challenges you may have faced and how you are overcoming them, and the way you think about various things, such as in a negative or a positive way and how you are going to overcome thinking negatively about certain situations.
  3. It can help you to gain more self-confidence about who you are, what you are capable of achieving and the progress you have made in your life.
  4. It can also help you to find inspiration and become more creative when you write ideas down and elaborate on them until you can present these ideas to someone.

These are only a few reasons for keeping a journal, but they are the foundation of why you should start using a journal.

Using a journal can also help improve your relationship with your loved ones, your colleagues and your leader.

The second tool you can use is to have regular meetings with your leader. Having regular meetings with your leader can help improve your relationship as you get to know one another better, can discuss your strengths and development areas, develop a plan on how to improve on your development areas and how best to use your strength.  Your leader can help you achieve your goals in a proficient manner as they know the ropes of the company. The meeting can occur every 2 weeks, for about 30 minutes or so. Do not just discuss work in these meetings, try to have a few discussions about personal matters, such as family life, hobbies, and more  to create a more relaxed and open environment.

During Covid-19 many of us struggled to be honest with ourselves about if we are truly coping or not, and our need to connect with other people. The best way for you to be able to achieve success in your personal and professional life is to be honest about your mental health, your ability to cope with your workload and if you are happy in the environment you are currently in. Good mental health gives you a sense of purpose in life and at work, helps strengthen relationships and feel more connected with others, to cope better with stress and to enjoy your life more. When you tell yourself that you are fine, but know that you are exhausted and are struggling to cope, you can burn yourself out. This can lead to a sense of reduced accomplishments and a loss of personal identity.

The fourth tool is to show gratitude. Indicate in your journal the highs and lows of the previous year and what it is that you want to change and achieve this year. By indicating what you are grateful for will help remind you of what you have and what you have already achieved. Discuss with your team members and colleagues what you found challenging in the previous year and find out what advice they can possibly give you on how to overcome these challenges. Also focus on the good and discuss this with your team members and colleagues and determine how you all can create the good again this year.

The fifth tool is to focus only on a few priorities and not over exert yourself with overly ambitious goals you mentally, emotionally, and physically cannot achieve. Setting only a few priorities for the biggening of the year can help you focus on the now and how best to achieve these goals with your current abilities. As the year progresses, set new goals and achieve them. Communicate constantly with other people to get their inputs on how they recommend you achieve your current goals and maybe ask for possible new goals you can set within your professional life.

The last tool is to become more agile. According to Michael Sullivan, personal agility “is the ability of an individual to quickly and efficiently adapt to a dynamic environment by making incremental changes, continually assessing the effectiveness of those changes, and modifying the approach as needed to achieve a desired outcome.” Becoming more agile will help you deal with all internal and external challenges you face at work and in your personal life. Becoming more agile will also help you to think quickly and clearly about the work you need to do and the challenges that come along with it. Michael Sullivan indicates various characteristics of personal agility, these are:

  • Being able to gain self-awareness through personal reflection (journaling)
  • You find your purpose and what you need to do to live your purpose in life
  • A bias for action
  • You find an appreciation for change, its purpose and what can bring about and not just to tolerate the change
  • You find a deeper value to want to grow and improve in your personal and professional life
  • You also develop a way to better prioritise your goals and your tasks.

When you combine the above six tools, you will be able to cope, overcome and growth in the year ahead. It will help you to set a different mindset for the year ahead and how best to achieve everything you wish to achieve this year.

All of the best for the year ahead and may we all have a brilliant year.

Be the absolute best version of yourself this year.