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Overcoming Challenges Rather than Avoiding Them

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By Joseph Fusco

Psst. Can I share a conspiracy theory with you?

Six terrible, shadowy forces roam this world, all of which have taken aim squarely at you with the purpose of making your life — and your work — a long, agonizing slog full of failure and misery.

They are, in no particular order: Stagnation, Irrelevance, Chaos, Fear, Isolation, and Boredom.

Assuming you want to be a happy and successful human being, you have no choice — you must fight back. You must banish these forces from your life.

Overcoming Challenges can Help you Become your Strongest Self

Your strongest weapon in this battle? Your problems. Yes, the decisions, puzzles, choices, relationships, obstacles, and challenges that your life and work throw at you every day. Embrace them and love them.

Look at it this way. Your challenges are gifts:

  • Your challenges are a gift in the defense against stagnation. Problems invite you to learn new skills, to grow, to adapt, to venture beyond your comfort zone, to pursue and shape your future, as well as the future of other people.
  • Your challenges are a gift in the battle against irrelevance. You matter. Your ideas, skills, knowledge and insights matter. This world, so full of problems, needs you. You have something important, valuable, and necessary to contribute.
  • Your challenges are a gift in the fight against chaos. You really do have a measure of control over your life, over your results, over your direction. It’s your ability to be a great problem solver.
  • Your challenges are a gift in the battle to defeat fear. Fear, uncertainty, doubt and instability thrive on our inability or unwillingness to address challenges in our lives and work. Embrace problems, and solve them well, and they lose their power to terrify you. Also, look around you. There’s a never-ending shortage of great problem solvers in the world. Be one — it’s terrific job security.
  • Your challenges are a gift in the struggle to overcome isolation. Reach out. Ask for help. Connect with other people, and other ideas, insights, and experiences. You are never alone.
  • Your challenges are a gift in the battle to vanquish boredom. Your challenges let your brain out of its cage. Experiment and play. Have fun. Invent something. Be inspired.

Great leaders (and happy and successful people) love challenges. They expect them daily, and embrace each and every one of them. They understand the path to mastery in life is a deep passion and commitment to address and solve those challenges and problems.

Life, and work, is a problem-solving journey. Enjoy the ride, and fight the good fight.



Joseph Fusco is a vice president at Casella Waste Systems and serves on the board of advisors for the University of Vermont Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA program.