Food for Thought – Tools for Negotiating Challenges

Humans are problem solving machines. We are wired for for it. The tools we use to confront challenges in our lives can be developed and refined which in turn increase our capability and capacity to be flexible and resilient in the face of adversity.

1. Maintain good relationships

Having healthy relationships gives us additional resources practical, emotional, and informational support when we face off against challenges. It also gives us the chance to help others overcome their problems which in turn helps us negotiate similar situations in the future.

2. Perspective – Don’t View Everything as an Unbearable Problem

Pessimism can be very destructive and we have to watch out for the tendency to minimize our ability while maximizing the effect of potential negative outcomes.

3. Accept Things That Can’t Be Changed

It is a fact that you can’t fix everything. Facing this fact isn’t giving up, it simply allows you to look at ways to integrate or cope with the outcomes.

4. Set Realistic Goals and Move Toward them

Setting goals is a very abstract thing to do, it is a healthy exercise… but it quickly looses it’s value if no action is ever taken. It can even become a source of additional problems if you are constantly nagged by a goal you have set but are not take steps towards. Action has to quickly follow abstraction!

5. Be decisive and take action quickly when faced with adversity

A fire isn’t going to put itself out until it has burned everything it can reach. Taking responsibility and acting quickly and decisively dampens the impact of a problem and can keep it from escalating.

6. Reflection After the Fact

Once you negotiate through a problem take time to reflect (bonus points if you do this with a friend). What did you learn? What could you do better, or different?

7. Build Self Confidence

This is a highly individual task, but basically boils down to taking safe challenges to prepare for bigger problems when they come up. For example: diving of the low diving board and working up to the high dive.

8. Keep a Long Term Perspective

In the middle of a fight it is real easy to loose track of the bigger picture. As stress increase we narrow our focus and can quickly lose track of our goals and objectives because of the immediacy of the situation right in front of us. This is another area where social support can help us stay grounded and focused on the long term while addressing the near term issue.

9. Be an Optimist

A hopeful outlook goes a long way to sustain a pool of emotional reserves.

10. Take care of your mind, body, and emotional well being

Go to the gym and train, practice mindfulness, take care of your social support system, journal, seek out knowledge and new experiences, travel, explore, look for ways to grow. Live as much life as possible!


If you want to discuss things a little further, check out our closed facebook discussion group to share your thoughts and join in the discussion. Or you can email me directly at  If you are interested in further reading check out other Food for Thought articles and learn all about the Archetypes of Skill.  You can also sign up to receive The Friday Huddle, a short weekly email from me that gives you the tips, insights, and musings that have gotten me through the week.

Live Skillfully!


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