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The power of seemingly impossible challenges

Last year I accepted a couple of seemingly impossible challenges. My mentor challenged me to grow my LinkedIn connections from 1K to 3K in a few months. Plus a fellow speaker had challenged me to grow my Twitter following from 200 to 1K. All in the same month.

As you can imagine the itty, bitty, shitty committee inside my head did a number for a while – with language like “impossible”, “as if!” and“never be able to” featuring frequently in it’s vocabulary. However, never one to shirk a challenge, I accepted – and then got on with it – and the results speak for themselves:

  • Twitter: 200 to 1K followers within the month then 14K within the year (because I could)
  • LinkedIn: 1K connections to 3K connections within 4 months and 6K connections within the year
  • Why? Because in a modern hyper connected world where influence and credibility rule – social proof counts. And in order to help more women into leadership roles, I need to continue to build my credibility and influence.

So what did I learn from these seemingly impossible challenges? 

  • “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
  • What seems impossible, is only impossible if you allow – there is always another way
  • Focus and attention are like money in the bank
  • Necessity truly is the mother of invention
  • Learn the rules so you can get creative and bend them more easily (and keep out of Twitter or LinkedIn jail)
  • When there is a really big incentive for achieving something, whether that’s fear of public humiliation, or reward of some sort, there is great motivation.

The value of impossible challenges

I was recently inspired by an article about an organisation who implemented a 5 hour working day. Go figure. But what they found was that despite the staff working fewer hours, the company results improved along with staff morale and productivity. Seemingly impossible but they did it. Because there was so few hours in the work day, every minute mattered, so time management and productivity became a challenge. And by creating scarcity (fewer hours in the day), the organisation had to innovate in order to deliver results and meet customer needs. What an amazing case study.

So my questions to you are:

  • What sort of impossible challenges are you setting for yourself on a regular basis? 
  • What out of the box thinking might give you the kick up the butt you need right now?
  • What could you implement that would shift your focus to credibility and performance – as opposed to hours in the office?
  • What Award nominations are you hiding from?
  • Does your role make you shiver with excitement in the morning?
  • Are you aiming high enough with that next job application? And does it make you scared (the good kind) enough?
  • When you apply for promotions are you aiming for inside your comfort zone or out there where the magic happens? (And where the magic happens is the right answer.)

Ditch underestimation

We know that women tend to underestimate their own future performance. So get out of your own way, ditch the underestimation and ‘level up’ more easily.

Three provisos:

  • Don’t hang yourself out to dry. Put mechanisms in place to ensure you are successful – coaches, mentors, champions, sponsors and a cheer squad
  • Eliminate temptation – after all, there’s no point trying Dry July and then purchasing the Wine Selectors special of the month! (social media black holes, trashy tele and even trashier novels)
  • Enjoy the ride. Then tell me how you went.

If you enjoyed this please share. 

My mission in life is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence. 

Plus – I love receiving emails and notes from my readers with insights and stories. Pop me a note or comment below if you’ve got something to add to this article.

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy.
  • I mentor busy professional women to ensure they remain smart, strategic and focused on the bigger game.
  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but are struggling to do so.
Posted on September 20, 2016

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