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Lolly Daskal

Management

How to Stop Seeing Struggle as Something Negative

There are two kinds of pain—one that just hurts you, and another that teaches you

Published: Friday, October 19, 2018 - 11:03

Every company I speak at, every leader I coach, I see a constant pattern: Virtually everyone sees struggle as something negative.

At the heart of this perception, people get too caught up in the idea of struggle to consider what struggle at its core is all about. Most people cannot see themselves objectively, which leads them to fall into the gap of their own weaknesses and shortcomings.

Faced with struggle, most people are likely turn to one of these four behaviors:
Deny. Many refuse to acknowledge the role of their own weaknesses in their struggle.
Turn around. Some accept their weakness but are always looking for a cul-de-sac so they can turn around instead of facing them.
Change. Some change their direction altogether.
Leverage. A few are able to accept their weaknesses and work to leverage them—to work on them and turn them into strengths.

Faced with these options, your success depends on the choice you make.

If you deny your weaknesses, they will own you. You’ll continue to constantly bump up against them, and you’ll likely continue to suffer.

If you look for turnarounds, you will find yourself right where you started. There is no turning around from your weaknesses—just acknowledgement or avoidance.

If you are looking to change, remember that change is good but takes hard work, discipline, and consistent action to change longstanding  patterns.

If you learn to leverage your weaknesses by learning to accept and acknowledge them, you will have found the most effective way to deal with your struggles.

In my latest book, The Leadership Gap (Portfolio, 2017), I talk about how people make choices. In times of struggle, most people aren’t interested in leveraging their weaknesses. It’s human nature to deny them, dismiss them, or learn to work around them. But life has a way of repeating the things we don’t want to deal with.

So how do you leverage your weaknesses and let go of them? There are four distinct things you can do:

1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on your own issues. The strengths and weaknesses and situations of other people don’t have anything to do with you. We all have something to work on, and the best way to leverage any weakness is to be true about yourself—to find out what you need to work on and to learn new skills and competencies so you can constantly be growing and developing. When you take the time to reflect on who you really are, it will give you the ability to look at yourself, the world around you, and the relationship between you and the world with the deep insight that leads to wise new choices.

2. Stop worrying. Worry has never achieved much besides feeding the struggle, so stop worrying and start thinking. What can you do today that will lead to small wins tomorrow? What actions can you take that will generate movement instead of stagnation? Connect with what you really want and what you need to do to attain it.

3. Stop blaming others. Don’t blame your bad decisions or your bad choices on anyone or anything else. This is your life and your struggle. Instead of finding others to blame for your struggles, search your own past and look for the origins of your weaknesses. Blaming others is a subconscious mechanism for avoiding accountability, but it’s still unacceptable. Making bad choices and struggling for them is part of life, and it’s immature to blame others for those bad decisions.

4. Stop the pain. There are two kinds of pain—one that just hurts you, and another that teaches you. Each of us can grow stronger from pain when we don’t allow it to destroy us. Unfortunately, pain can stop progress, and struggles can impede success, but the pain we feel today is the strength that will help us endure tomorrow.

Strength and growth come though constant work and effort—and from struggle of every kind.

Lead from within: Successful leaders are those who can look beyond a struggle or failure and manage the circumstances and situations as well as their response—things they can shape, adjust, and change.

First published on Lolly Daskal’s Lead From Within blog.

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About The Author

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Lolly Daskal

Lolly Daskal is one of the world’s most sought-after executive leadership coaches, with cross-cultural expertise spanning 14 countries, six languages, and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world. Based on a mix of modern philosophy, science, and nearly 30 years coaching executives, Daskal’s perspective on leadership continues to break new ground. Her proprietary insights are the subject of her book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness (Penguin Portfolio, 2017).