.. take off the rose coloured spectacles and walk way


Part 3 Facing and Managing Challenge

Sometimes you have to walk away from a challenge and be realistic and this can be just as difficult as facing the challenge in the first place. Our culture celebrates heroes and urges us not to give up. It can be very difficult not to carry on regardless of the cost, simply for fear of losing face.

Stay realistic and be prepared to walk away

It is a reality that some challenges will be too big for us.  A challenge might look exciting or advantageous but the path to achieve it is treacherous.  It is important to remove the rose tinted spectacles and look at the goal critically.

Bear Gryllis quoteConsider it as if on an old fashioned pair of scales.  On one side: How much time will it take? How much effort will I need to put in? What is it going to cost? On the other: How will it benefit me in the end? What will I get out of it? Will it enhance things for me in other ways?  Then add physical weight to each of the answers and see how the scales balance out.

If the negatives are outweighing the positives you must be brave enough to turn away from the challenge. Have no regrets about it if you do.

The challenge may re-present itself to you in the future and may then be less daunting and easier to manage.

Being prepared to walk away should be part of your strategy

Walking away from a challenge is a lot less hard if you have a strategy to handle and manage challenge in place. My last two posts looked at fear of challenge and how we can find ourselves unable to act at all, plus managing challenges that seem overwhelmingly huge. Whilst it is true that without some risk there is no reward, sometimes the risk is untenable.

If you have some mechanism in place to assess and analyse challenge it makes it easier to make an informed decision and feel good about it.


When considering opportunities many businesses use a SWOT and/or PEST analysis as a tool to assess viability and positioning. However, these are really planning tools and not strategic analysis of a situation. You have to consider human variables when facing challenges and this is often a gut reaction and tricky to quantify. So, here is my suggested checklist for assessing and identifying whether to walk away or take on a challenge. For preparation against personal challenges, see my Huffington Post this month.


Are you a bit of a gung ho person when it comes to adversity? Has this caused issues in the past? A company also has a personality – it can be regarded as safe, sensible, and steady or risky, innovative and exciting. It may be that the challenge is an opportunity to change personalities but there will be a cost attached. How important is it to you/your business that you act upon your personality? Does the challenge align with the personality?


How will others perceive you managing this challenge? Branching out in a new direction may be just what your business needs or it could be seen as a step too far by shareholders and customers. Will it cause a potential loss of reputation if you fail and what is the bottom line impact of this?


Some challenges are just too risky. They require people to make commitments that are beyond them but loss of face in walking away can be a complicating factor. Is it a strategic necessity to face this challenge? Or, is it that you are concerned you will look weak as a leader if you walk away? Sometimes true strength is understanding that you or your company is not well enough equipped to face a challenge. It may be that you simply do not have the resources or diverting resources will weaken other areas of your business. Pride does often come before a fall; don’t take on a challenge because of hubris.


Companies that succeed know when to change direction or when to dodge the bullet. Your position in the market depends on a congruence of events, circumstances and market temperature. These can be very difficult to assess as external factors can cause unexpected disruption. Take a long hard look at how secure your position is- the number of repeat customers, level of complaints, competitor activity. Facing a challenge in both your personal and professional life may be unavoidable in some cases. However, when you do have the choice- make it an informed one. Will facing this challenge improve your position? Do the benefits outweigh the risks and strengthen you or your business in the long term?

Facing challenges involves an element of choice

I had no choice after the train crash. It had happened, I had to face the challenges in order to survive and move forward. Since then, I have had choices. Some challenges I have walked away from; knowing I had the strength of mind to say no, not now, I am not ready for this. Interestingly, these have often been the challenges that reappeared as good opportunities later, when I was ready. Sometimes it is just smart to walk away.

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