Overcoming Personal Challenges

Overcoming Personal Challenges

(You can jump the hurdles if your intentions are pure)

“Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful” (Joshua Marine)

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” ~Charles Swindoll

In September of 2015, I enrolled in the Masters of Education Program at Brock University.  As I packed up to head to the Oakville campus on a Tuesday evening to begin my first class I was armed with confidence and excitement about the journey I was about to embark upon – the teachings and the value that I too could add to the class. My oldest son suggested that I spend the first few classes just listening (not talking) and observing since I had been out of school for thirty years. That was my plan except the professor made it abundantly clear at the outset that since this was a Masters level course he expected full participation from every student. I accepted his invitation and probably talked too much because by the time I arrived home from my first and subsequent classes I was feeling a little overwhelmed mostly because I did a little too much talking and not enough listening. This became apparent when we were asked to hand in reflections after each class on what we’d learned in reference to various theories and theorist as it related to the construction of organizations.  The best way to describe how I was feeling after the first three weeks was that I felt like those Christmas lights that we find lying in a box tangled up.  If we can get the lights untangled and plugged in we will witness a really beautiful sight. My brain felt like those lights in the box that needed to be untangled and plugged in.

Each week I would come home and say to my family – if only I could get the lights untangled.  This course indeed was proving to be a little challenging to me. I can give you a million excuses why, such as: I’ve been away from school for thirty years’ I work full time; I have family and personal responsibilities; and the list goes on and on. But the reality is this-I made the choice to pursue higher education and I knew the required time commitment and what I was getting myself into.  Why was I struggling? How would I turn this situation around quickly, after all, the course ends in early December.

I was struggling because for the first time in a long while I stepped inside an arena  that  I wasn’t  familiar with and the biggest hurdle I had to jump was convincing myself that I had the intellectual capacity as well as the mental and emotional capacity to complete this course.  I also had to acknowledge that it was ok not to understand everything but to give my absolute best and to embrace the unconditional love and support my family constantly supplies as a source of encouragement.

I remember driving home one evening from class and giving myself a pep talk…”you can do this, you’ve got this one” and then finally I remember saying, “send me in with a pack of wolves and I’ll come out leading the pack” Wow!  I was really feeling a sudden sense of empowerment. Whatever it was, I knew I had to hang on tight to it! I was speaking into my own life those same sentiments that I inspire my audiences with as a professional speaker.  I am learning that a good dose of one’s own medicine is good for the soulJ

The following weekend I attended a conference and I heard a young professor from Ryerson say –“It’s always the students who have to work hard to get good marks – not the students who can ace my classes that grow and learn so much about who they are and what they are capable of because they have to push through and persevere.”  His words spoke to my heart, they have fired me up – I am ready to persevere, and ready to jump any hurdle that gets in my way!

Here’s my own self-prescribed formula I have committed to so that I can jump the hurdles that I will come up against as I continue my learning at the Masters level at Brock University:

  1. Faith in someone bigger than myself (God)
  2. Surround myself with people who love and believe in me-I am grateful for my husband and two sons who encourage and inspire me every day
  3. A daily self-care ritual (yoga, gym, walking) – refuelling is key to success
  4. Focus–coupled with a deep hunger to succeed
  5. Stay true to my authentic spirit – stress can cause us to lose sight of who we truly are – authenticity is essential to learning and growth.
  6. Belief in my abilities emotionally, mentally and intellectually
  7. Understanding that everyone learns and comprehends information differently based on their experiences and learning style

This formula is not only relevant to those facing the challenges of school or career but is also applicable to those experiencing other challenges in life.  I conclude by saying keep moving in the direction of your dreams and keep jumping the hurdles even if you knock a few down along the way – the important thing is to finish the race!