Seeing Opportunities in Difficult Times

by on October 3, 2012

As the month of October dawns, I find myself in London England, attending the International Coaches Federation annual conference.  One of the great leaders in England’s history was Winston Churchill.  The time when he was Prime Minister of the country called for someone with great courage, given the nature of the times.  Before I left for my journey I happened to be looking at my calendar of quotes.  Right on top of the month of October, there was one from Churchill that was so appropriate for someone in the coaching profession.  It read, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

In working with our clients coaches are always looking to move their client forward to whatever goals they may be inspired to achieve.  Often the goal is one that has eluded the client for a long time.  There have been times they have even given up trying to achieve it because it seems way too hard to reach.  Whatever the reason, one of the reasons the client decides to work with a coach is to have an accountability partner with them to help get them through the times they may decide to give up their pursuit.

We’ll look to remind the client when they faced a difficult situation in the past and the steps they took to get through it.  In doing so, we’ll ask them to indicate what things they did that worked for them then.  Possibly those traits will come in handy now.  If other skills are needed, and the client is reluctant to try them, we’ll question as to why they believe they can not use those skills.  Are they only assuming they don’t have the abilities they need to succeed?  Even if they have not been successful with those skills before, what have they learned from past experiences that will make them successful this time?   The point is it is easy to talk yourself out of any situation.  It is difficult to convince yourself you can be successful, if you can’t get past the reason why you will not be successful.

It does not take much to find stimulus that will put difficulties right in front of you.  Reading your local newspaper or listening to the media you would think every person in the world does not have a job.  One would be led to believe they can only be happy if they have a certain type of car, live a certain type of life style or wear certain brands of clothes.  If the media does not make you feel odds are insurmountable, there are likely friends or family members who may also council you as to why a certain approach is not right for you.  Or, frankly, you may have convinced yourself you are only capable of so much, and no more.  We all fall into those pessimistic cycles where we don’t feel we will succeed.

During World War II, Churchill needed to convince a nation it would survive the attacks of an enemy determined to conquer it and the rest of the world.  Ultimately, his nation survived, helping to turn around the direction of the War.  While your battles may sometimes seem of such proportions, they really are not.  If you take the time to think them through, recognize the choices that you are facing and that are being provided to you, you will be ready to take advantage of them when you are ready.  Struggles and getting through them often take a great deal of time and planning to make their way through.  However, it is an effort well worth it, if you believe from the beginning you will take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you.

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