Which way do you think about life? Well, the most exciting part of Dr. Dweck’s study was this – at least it was to me – she was able to help some of these children switch from thinking they could only accomplish so much and begin to think that they could accomplish more if they were willing to jump in and give it a try. She would tell the kids, “This may be hard at first. You might feel a little dumb or uncomfortable, but if you keep working on it, eventually, you’ll get it and you’ll feel good. And she was successful with that. We can learn our way out of that fixed mentality.
Being able to face challenges – knowing we will learn from the experience – makes us happier people. I remember the first I ever set up a ring and pinion gear set in my rock crawler. It is a greasy, dirty, tedious process. You have to engage the two gears with a special grease on the gear teeth, then look at the pattern left by the teeth in the grease, making tiny, tiny changes until the pattern in the grease looks just like the picture in the book. It’s a trial and error thing. What helped me to get through it was a comment made by a rock crawler friend. He said, “I’ve done a dozen of those and it still takes all day to do one.” So that helped me understand that it’s never easy for anybody.
So how do you face challenges? When I think about dealing with insurance companies in my private practice, each one of them, if you could test them, they would test like an individual who was sociopathic. Think about it. They don’t care about helping anybody. They know they can do whatever they want without fearing consequences, so they do. It’s kind of like the eight hundred pound gorilla. He just does whatever he wants. That kind of response day after day, week after week…I’ve found that to be wearing on me. So what can I do to deal with the ever-present, ongoing challenge? I hired a really good biller, who is not an eight hundred pound gorilla, but more like a pit bull – smaller and not as strong, but once she latches on, she does not let go. And that perseverance eventually makes a difference on the bottom line for my business. And I don’t have to do that. That’s her job and she’s good at it. She has a good attitude about it. She likes doing it. And I like seeing her do it, but I don’t want to do it myself, because I like to do counseling instead. So we both win. I get help with what I need and she makes a living, in part, off of me, and she’s good at what she does. Of course, in a perfect world, I shouldn’t have to hire her, but the world is not perfect. There will be sociopaths for a while longer.
So, if we deal with the challenges the best we can, things are going to get better for us. We just jump in there, and learn what we can, and do what we can, and find ways around, or over, or under, or through whatever comes up.
What challenges face you? Can you meet them? What is your attitude about them? Are you afraid of them? Is there something you can learn to do to help overcome them?
I had a client whose middle-school-aged daughter committed suicide. When she was finished with her therapy, she wrote me a note, and she said, “I didn’t think I could get past this, but with your help, I did. I will always love and miss my daughter, but I have my life back.” Of course, I could have done nothing if she wasn’t willing to rise to the challenge. It’s sort of a law that way. Other people can’t rise to the challenge for us. It’s something we have to do. People can root for us. They can cheer for us, but we’ve got to rise to the challenge. And her willingness to tackle what she thought was impossible made it possible. That goes all the way from something huge, like losing a child, down to trying to match tiles at Lowes. If I hadn’t been there looking, I never would have found the right color.