The Unbelievable Value of Challenge and Doubt

I was recently reminded of the Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol, you know the story of the old miser, Scrooge, being challenged by the ghosts of Christmas Present, Christmas Past, and Christmas Future. The ghosts revealed to him not only the ways his negative, insensitive behavior affected those around him but the dark future that awaited him.

I had my own Christmas Carol/Scrooge experience not that long ago when I was in a group setting and observed how the presenter responded when someone challenged him with a new perspective. While the feedback was being shared in a professional manner, you know, in an “I want to help” sort of tone, I found the presenter’s response (in behavior and tone) to be defensive and dismissive. I thought, “That was me in the past, yikes!” It was a meaningful reinforcement of what I have learned—and continue to learn—a personal discovery that warrants sharing.

Awareness and personal importance are catalysts to learning and personal growth.

Remember the closing of A Christmas Carol with Scrooge’s expression after his transformation? He experienced uncontrolled happiness and, more importantly, JOY! Remember how those around him were also feeling the joy and excitement of the new Scrooge? Maybe it was the emergence of the Scrooge that was always in there somewhere but just needed to be cracked out of its shell.

Care about everything, I mean everything. It adds up to how we choose to maneuver through the world and with others.

There have been times throughout the recent past when I felt like both the Scrooge of the past and, more recently, the Scrooge of the future. Why the change? It’s because, fundamentally, I care about the future. Shouldn’t we all?

I think the story of Scrooge inspires four overreaching messages I am of the belief we should learn to live by:

  1. WE are often the last to know about a misaligned behavior and we need to care in order to effect change.
  2. WE need to have people we trust to tell us what is being observed about us.
  3. WE can change if it is important and as long as it for our own personal reasons.
  4. Now the hard part for many: Those previously affected (by the Scrooge syndrome) need to exhibit amazing grace in forgiveness and understanding of the past and embrace (with a warm trusting hug) an excitement for the future. (Want to read about grace? Read Brennan Manning’s book, Ragamuffin Gospel)

Strommen Blog Pic 6.16.16 Pic 1

Not being a Lone Wolf has manifested in me a powerful message, behavior, and change in perspective.

Recently, I have been blessed with some great new people in my life: friends, relationships, professional advisors. I have been changed in how I view many aspects of my business and personal life. I remember the days when I was younger (could have been 1 year younger 🙂 ) when I would be told (or the suggestion made) that something was not possible, or could maybe be done in a better way. I would think “I’ll show them that I can do it!” I did not like others doubting me or my ability to do the task. I felt insecure in being challenged about something I believed in (right or wrong). How self-centered I was to feel and believe this! How self-righteous I was in thinking I was that good. How disrespectful I was to those who wanted to provide input to enhance the outcome. Too prideful comes to mind.

The bigger the challenge the bigger the opportunity.  –unknown

This was further reinforced at my Monday morning men’s group when I began challenging and asking questions about a topic that was being skimmed over. One of the other members said, “The challenging of a perspective has been good, Bob.” It dawned on me that he was right, challenge done properly and received openly is worthy of sharing.

What do challenges and doubt do?

  • Challenge and doubt trigger reconsideration of one’s posture through reflection;
  • Have the potential to create deeper conviction of the belief as it is no longer superficial in its nature;
  • If communicated and received properly, they further define who you are;
  • Creates meaningful dialog between the parties that is fun, has depth, and most likely enhances the closeness of the relationship. All byproducts that are enriching;
  • Could very possibly temper the posture, or may enhance the outcome with a new perspective;
  • Expand one’s knowledge and self-awareness;
  • Allow for a deeper, more personal understanding of others through positive growth.

None of this would be possible without the lasting POWER OF CHALLENGE AND DOUBT.


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