On being your best: Facing challenges

The world brings us a steady stream of challenges. Some are foreseen but most are unexpected — we rarely know what is next. This is part of life’s natural rhythm. Responding appropriately to whatever challenge comes our way is a function of two things:

1. The challenge itself

2. Whether we are Being Our Best

Challenges take many forms. Each has its own degree of difficulty. Assessing the challenge as accurately as possible requires a clear, undistracted, uncluttered mind. If our mind is filled with our personal Noise — distrust of ourselves and life, fear, envy, insecurity, worry, anxiety and so on — then our response will fall short of what it would otherwise be. It takes a clear mind for the best, most appropriate response. It takes a clear mind to Be Our Best.

While it is important to understand the challenge itself, it is critical to understand oneself. We need to know what makes us great, what we are best at, what our strengths are. We must be honest about each. We must also be honest about our shortcomings, which includes our personal Noise. Honesty is key. If we choose to ignore our faults, or excuse them away, our response will not be the best one possible.

In times of difficulty, not accurately assessing the situation, including all the players (this includes us), leaves little doubt that we will not maximize the potential of the moment. If we are competing with another entity, be forthright about their strengths and weaknesses, for here is where opportunity lies. The opportunity will not be fully realized if the same is not done for oneself. If we know we are weak in a particular arena but choose to ignore it, then we are putting a governor on the potential result. If our personal Noise interrupts our thought process and our focus, our strategy and our tactics will suffer.

Knowing who we really are is key. Acting on this knowledge by being who we really are is fundamental to achieving the best result possible. We have so much to offer in any given moment. When we allow our personal Noise to interfere, we fall short of maximizing our potential. So many do not know about their personal Noise. Others know but choose not to acknowledge it. Still others know it, acknowledge it, but choose to not put forth the effort required to control their personal Noise. Their results suffer. This doesn’t have to be. Our personal Noise can be reined in through honest self-reflection. It is our choice. We have the power. What we do with it is up to each of us.

Here Sun Tzu describes the importance of understanding the challenge as well as oneself:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt…” — Sun Tzu

To know both requires effort, commitment and honesty. Step One is to know oneself and then abide by what we know. We have more control over ourselves than any challenge that might come before us. This means admitting and owning our personal Noise so that we can better control it. Then, we can focus our attention and our efforts on honestly assessing the challenge before us with a clear, uncluttered, undistracted mind. This is how we arrive at the best, most appropriate response possible for this moment in time.

More to come.

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