Stick with it
Back in college, at the middle of the semester, after the second exam, I walked into a friend in the hallway of the University library. “Where are you headed to?” I asked. “To change my major” she replied. This was a conversation that most students can relate to. My friend was struggling in her Physiology Class, she didn’t have any hope of passing the class, so she wanted to change her major.
Interestingly, on further inquiry, I learned that she always wanted to be a medical doctor but now a single class was standing between her and her dream. I told if she wanted, I would help her study for the third exam and if she didn’t pass then she should go ahead and change her major.
About two years after the conversation, my friend called me and asked me to join her for lunch. Few minutes into our lunch, she could not hold the new she wanted to share. She told me that she was currently in medical school pursuing her medical degree. She reminded me of the time I stopped her from changing her major to settle for a degree that wasn’t in alignment with her dream. She was grateful. Today, my hope is that you, like my friend, won’t change your course because of something difficult you’re facing; you will stick with it.
Barrier to Progress
A great barrier to progress is the inability to handle challenges or solve complex problems. Whether you are a college student or a professional who works for a company to solve real life problems, if you can’t learn complex things, or if you can’t solve difficult challenges, your progress will be blocked. Often people settle for less in life because when they are faced with complex problems they quit. But your ability to learn hard tasks is fundamental to not quitting and breaking new ground. That is why in today’s post I want to share with you three simple yet effective things that I have learned can help in handling what might seem to be rocket science. I found them useful whether in my Ph.D. pursuit or handling personal challenges. Here they are:
1. Believe: Believe you can do it.
The reason why we often give up when faced with challenges is due to lack of faith. Believing you can do something activates your creativity and gets you engaged. It doesn’t matter what you are facing, be it a mathematical problem or a financial problem, believing enables you to have the right mental posture. Not believing closes your mind up. It prevents you from moving forward and makes you feel stuck; a condition I refer to as mental clenching. I have observed that the people who have faith in possibilities, approach every problem believing that there is a solution and they have what it takes to find the solution.
Believing in possibilities is something that we have to practice. You can increase your believing power by always staying positive, being open to new ways of approaching life, and surrounding yourself with people who have greater faith than you. If you surround yourself with people who are negative, who see a problem in every solution, and only see life from one vantage point, then you will find that your mind and heart are weak. At the appearance of a problem you will opt on giving up before even giving any effort.
The moment you start believing you can handle a challenge, that’s the moment you begin to see options and new ways of moving forward. This gives you the courage to face the challenge and depend on your great friends to solving any problem, any time.
2. Time: Allocate maximum possible time
Time is the second powerful resource, after your brain, to solving any problems. All the “rocket science” challenges you will face will require time. Living in a microwave society has really affected our expectations. We expect even the things that require time to come to us fast. I have observed that we can use technology to find solutions faster than we used to but to be a master at anything will require time. You can google all your assignments, or you can watch a YouTube video on how to fix your financial challenges but to do well in the exam you will need to put in the time for practice or you will need time to build in financial discipline to be financially successful. In any challenge you face, you must allocate the maximum time needed.
The way I do this is by following two guiding steps. One, I determine the best time to handle the challenge and schedule it. This helps me not to procrastinate. Second, I manage the time I allocate for facing complex things. This helps me not to spend unnecessary extended time on one task. Time allocation to facing a challenge allows me to be systematic and tactical in the face of a challenge. This approach has also helped me know when to ask for help; when to collaborate with others.
3. Collaborate: Rely on a team
The third approach to solving your “rocket science” problems is by relying on others. Ray Kroc, the founder of one of American’s most successful business empires, McDonald’s, is quoted saying “None of us is as good as all of us”. Kroc knew to make business successful, he had to learn from and depend on others. Another entrepreneur giant who understood the power of collaboration was the late Steve Jobs. Despite his brilliance, he knew that he needed the best people to make Apple Inc. as successful as it has been. He said, “Great things in business are never done by one person”. This is true for business as well as our personal lives. Having a team in college to study for exam is as effective as having a team that you brainstorm with on the challenges of life. My mentor Mr. Waiyaki, my friend Duncan, and my cousin Michael are my collaborators when it comes to navigating life’s challenges. At work I have a team of professionals who we work alongside each other.
Collaboration is powerful in learning really hard and complex stuff. It helps you go faster and further. John Maxwell, the leading leadership expert, reminds leaders that “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Collaboration is what accelerates results and make rocket science learnable.
The best thing to do after reading this post is to go back and see if there is something that stood between you and your dreams because it looked like rocket science. Look and see where challenges in your personal or professional life are causing procrastination. Then, believe you can do it, commit more time, and seek help from others. I believe that we all have a situation that we can apply the three things we learned today. I am convinced that you can handle rocket science because God placed in you what it takes to learn really hard things.