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Josh Linkner: Unpack Your Challenges To Solve Them

Josh Linkner: Unpack Your Challenges To Solve Them

Award-winning entrepreneur and creativity expert Josh Linkner is on a mission to make the world more creative. Named the “Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year” and as a “President Barack Obama Champion of Change” award recipient, Linkner both inspires and entertains: in speeches and workshops alike, he provides powerful and practical techniques to jumpstart creativity, getting people thinking out of the box in business and at home. In a recent column for the Detroit Free Press, Linker shares his tips to overcoming the overwhelming:

“I could never do that.”

“This is impossible.”

“There are a million obstacles.”

When facing a serious challenge, it’s easy to amplify the hurdles in our minds, which in turn makes the problems seem insurmountable. Our fearful inner voice has a way of exaggerating the barriers and then talking us out of even trying. The things we want most in life — business success, great relationships and vibrant communities — can feel unreachable and overwhelming.

The old parable instructs us how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time. The same is true when scaling the brick walls that guard your biggest goals.

When you fixate on the magnitude of the challenge, it’s easy to get discouraged. But a funny thing happens when you carefully examine these fears and bring them into the light. The scary monster quickly loses its bite, as these big boundaries shrink faster than bowl of colorful jellybeans in a room full of 8-year-olds.

In the same way you’d unpack your suitcase after a long trip, start unpacking the things that are holding you back. Take the individual components out, one at a time, and evaluate them on their own merits. What was once frightening can quickly dissolve into something that becomes both tame and manageable.

Let’s take that “million obstacles” comment. No question we can feel this way and can easily be dissuaded from achievement. Instead of walking away, make a list of them. My guess is that you’ll end up with fewer than 10 real obstacles, not even close to your original estimate.

From there, you can proactively map out a specific strategy to overcome each obstacle. As you tackle them one by one, you’ll feel charged up with energy and your resolve will strengthen. Far better than letting fear hold you back from life’s biggest rewards.

Next time you’re up against a challenge, problem, issue, or even an opportunity that feels overwhelming, unpack it.

Once you break it down to the molecular level, the fear will dissipate and your personal power will skyrocket. It’s time to drag those scary challenges out of the shadows and into the bright sunlight. One component at a time, you’ll conquer and overcome.

And yes, you’ll savor that big elephant of opportunity … one bite at a time.

By Josh Linkner/Detroit Free Press