Embracing challenges as opportunities for leverage and impact: A mindset every professional can adopt
The writer

Embracing challenges as opportunities for leverage and impact: A mindset every professional can adopt

While we are all able to dream, only a few bring their ideas to life, and only a tiny minority hold on to their idea for a while. And then there is the rarest of the few who change the world in a significant way with their ideas.

A major contributory factor to the outstanding success of the rarest of the few is the mindset they use to approach their work. 

Highly successful entrepreneurs everywhere have a mindset that enables them to achieve great feats despite the limiting circumstances and obstacles they face. 

I describe mindset as the perceptions we hold, our dominant thought patterns, and the stories we tell ourselves which drive our mental attitudes and behaviours over time.

No professional intending on succeeding in our complex, technology-driven, and hybrid working culture can ignore the state of his/her mindset in the pursuit of his/her practice. 

I believe the mindset of highly successful entrepreneurs can help every professional today to thrive in a world that’s full of uncertainty and rapidly changing. Does your mindset advance your purpose and ambition in your professional role or stand in the way? “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. 

Becoming aware of your mindset and harnessing it to advance your professional pursuits is critical for your success. 

In this article, I write about the first mindset you can adopt, embracing challenges as opportunities for leverage and impact.

The challenge of climbing many undulating hills 

Highly successful entrepreneurs are defined by their ability not only to spot opportunities but by their unique capability to leverage the challenges on their entrepreneurial journey for impact. They are undeterred by setbacks. 

They appreciate that on the entrepreneurial journey, your resources will always pale in comparison to your ambitions and the scale of the challenge you face. 
Surprisingly, many entrepreneurs who are well-resourced when they start their enterprises fail spectacularly. 

Their curiosity draws them a bit closer to the challenges they face. And their healthy view of their skills and abilities urges them to embrace challenges head-on. 
They believe they can overcome every challenge. This mindset is needed in boardrooms, schools, organisations and governments given the scale of change we are witnessing today. 

All professionals must take the view Nelson Mandela had in spite of all the challenges he encountered. 

He noted that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

Curious about challenges

Ordinarily, you will wish that you do not encounter any challenges on your journey as an entrepreneur. Not this rare breed of entrepreneurs who relish the challenge of fixing problems that show up every day. 

They may not go out of their way to seek challenges (even though some of them do) but when challenges pop up their curiosity is piqued. 

They stay with the problem, seeking to understand the root causes and how this changes their perspective on the issues at stake. 

One founder of a retail chain is known to always call retail managers to ask if they are facing any challenges. 

The founder is highly disappointed if a retail manager is unable to find and report a problem they are dealing with or what they need support to fix. 

No blame game, no stopping, forward ever

No matter what they encounter on their journey, they are always looking and moving forward. 

They acknowledge that sometimes business partners may not honour their words, businesses they start may not yield the dividends expected early enough but they never ruminate over their losses. 

They are always on the move looking for solutions to the challenges they face. 

When others give up as a result of limited resources or setbacks, they march on. 

It’s as if Marcus Aurelius had them in mind when he wrote, “The impediment to action advances their action. What stands in the way becomes the way”. 

An example is how the Wright Brothers worked tirelessly with their meagre resources to beat Pierpont Langley, the famous, highly-resourced, knowledgeable physicist, to build the first manned flying machine. Langley had a team of experts and was sponsored by the government. 

The Wright Brothers relied on the parts from their bicycle shop and extra income from selling bicycles. They succeeded after they have failed several times and expended almost all their resources. 

Just like all highly successful entrepreneurs, when faced with a challenge, they did not focus on what they do not have. 

They paid attention to the good they can do with what they have.

Unconquerable souls

Highly successful entrepreneurs have a healthy view of their abilities. They do not easily write themselves off unless they have given themselves a fair chance to work on the challenge they are confronted with. 

They have a huge belief in their ability to create change and resolve intractable challenges. 

This enables them to face challenges head-on, which leads to breakthroughs on many occasions. 

This mindset produces higher levels of perseverance unimaginable to many others. 

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance,” Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, said. 

It’s the same mindset that stayed with Nelson Mandela in prison, Martin Luther King on civil rights marches, and Yaa Asantewaa on the battlefield. 

Mr Torgbor Mensah, the founder and Chairman of DDP, who built a media empire with just a table and chair will always say “Give me one cedi, that’s all I need to start”. 

They all believed they are stronger than any constraint on their way and were confident they could overcome whatever constraint with their skills and abilities.

The way forward for every professional

Professionals today can choose to adopt this mindset and embrace the challenges they face as opportunities to do the best possible with the resources available rather than be overwhelmed by the complex challenges of the day. Decades of research by Carol S. Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, emphasizes the power of mindset in individual achievement. 

In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she identified two groups of people, those with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. 

It turns out that the growth mindset is characterized by a mindset that embraces challenges and persists in the face of setbacks. 

Your mind has to start a new journey of believing, embracing challenges, and resolving them. The mind has the capacity for learning and adaptation. 

What’s required is regular practice so your mind is reset with a new mindset.

Ideas for action  

Below are a couple of ideas you can practise to develop the mindset that embraces challenges as an opportunity for leverage and impact. 

I.    Give your mind the opportunity to see challenges as opportunities on a regular basis. Deliberately recount challenges you encountered in your professional journey that became an opportunity for impact.

II.    Practise picking challenging situations and brainstorming multiple potential solutions and opportunities for impact.

III.    Boost your curiosity by asking questions that enable you to learn more about the challenge at hand.

IV.    Ask two questions when confronted with a challenge: What is my mindset towards this particular challenge? What will it look like if I adopted a more proactive mindset?

I have dedicated the month of May to writing about the mindset we need to thrive as professionals in times of uncertainty. In the next article, I will share another mindset of highly successful entrepreneurs every professional can adopt.

If you have got an idea or leadership practice to share, kindly write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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