Think of the times in your life when you have grown the most, excelled at new levels and felt the most satisfaction with your life and results. Chances are, in all of those situations, a common element was a challenge that you faced and surmounted successfully.
Whether it was the challenge thrown down by the older neighbor kids or siblings to ride a bike, the need to learn a language before a trip overseas, or any of a hundred other small or large challenges, challenge fuels our internal competitive spirit; challenge ignites our primal fight or flight response; and challenge provides extra focus for our efforts.
The books of history are filled with people and organizations achieving extraordinary things on the back of challenges.
The fact is that challenge works to spur human growth and potential. Yet, usually we only take advantage of that fact when circumstances put a challenge in front of us.
But why should we wait?
I’m suggesting that we should create a challenge of our own choosing – a challenge that is designed to help us take advantage of the inherent value of challenges and allow us to consciously, intentionally create the results we want faster and more effectively.
I’m suggesting you create a learning challenge.
Here are five components of a learning challenge.
Purpose. You create a learning challenge to help you reach a goal or objective. Let’s say I wanted to learn how to resolve conflict, because I deal with lots of conflict at work or home. With a clear purpose for creating the learning challenge, the challenge will be more real and it will aid your discipline.
Timeline. Your learning challenge should have a timeline. Depending on the size of your challenge, your timeline could be a week, a month or maybe 60 days – but probably not longer than that. If your learning challenge is larger than can be met in 60 days, consider breaking it up into pieces or subsets that can be achieved in 30-60 days.
Focus. Once you have set your learning challenge you can drive your activities with a laser-like focus. That means spending all of your learning time and as much discretionary time as possible on your learning challenge, not haphazardly reading or moving to a new interesting topic. Your purpose and timeline will help here profoundly.
Expert Resources. When you set your learning challenge – knowing what you want to learn, why you want to learn it and in what timeline you plan to learn it, you must then find the right resources to help you. Who knows what you want to know? Who has been there? Who has a perspective that will aid you? Your progress will be aided and sped up by consciously and intentionally seeking out and finding the best expert resources.
Multiple Methods. If you truly have a learning challenge, just reading one book or attending one course won’t get you there. Learning takes place in different ways and you must use different ways to seed your learning and allow yourself the chance to improve. Reading, workshops, coaches and mentors are just the short and obvious list. But when you have a real challenge you will find any way to overcome it right? With learning challenges, one is never the best answer.
This approach is a proven way to build any skill or learn anything of value. It is also the approach we use with leaders around the world each month in our Remarkable Leadership Learning System. You can learn more about that System here, or learn how to get two complimentary months in the program here.