537: Overcome

What challenge did you overcome yesterday?


Full episode script

Challenges are a part of life, and a part of existing. After all, with absolutely no challenges, there’s no opportunities to grow, learn, expand, or change. It can also be very easy for challenges to become overwhelming, no matter how resilient or thoughtful you are as a person. So how to face that fear and keep moving forward?

One theory says that the way to do it is consistently review what successes you’ve had. In May of 2011 in the Harvard Business Review, Teresa Amabile and Steven J. Kramer wrote:

Through exhaustive analysis of diaries kept by knowledge workers, we discovered the progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress—even a small win—can make all the difference in how they feel and perform.

That progress principle is a powerful one, because it recognizes that, even when you are in the middle of a very large project, recognizing steps forward can reinvigorate the energy for the next step.

Of course, while you’re doing that, it’s also important to keep in mind how those successes can change you reactions. In October of 2015, Shankar Vedantam of the Hidden Brain podcast went on NPR to talk about this effect. Quote:

Rachel Ruttan, Loran Nordgren and Mary-Hunter McDonnell find that people who endure emotionally distressing events often show less compassion for others who are struggling with the same event compared to people who haven’t been through such an event. The researchers also find something very interesting. Compared to people who’ve never been unemployed, those who’ve experienced unemployment show less compassion to people currently dealing with unemployment. It’s not so much, I think, you’re less likely to care. You’re more likely to think, if I can get through this and I can find a job, so can you.

So yes, considering what you’ve overcome can be very helpful. Just keep in mind how that may also impact your interactions with others.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.