Finding Challenges Before Challenges Find You – Shifting to the Innovator’s Mindset, Part 5

This is the final part (5) of this series on Shifting to the Innovator’s Mindset,” and I will be discussing why the best challenges we can have in our lives are the ones we create for ourselves.

Win or lose, fail or succeed, the process of the challenge is often better than the product.

This thinking reminds me of the Demetri Martin image below:


“Image from Demetri Martin”


What I love about this image is that if you replace the word “success” with “learning,” the image can stay precisely the same:


It is essential to embrace and see the beauty in the messiness above.

As mentioned previously, this series is based on the image from “Innovate Inside the Box,” which is a build-on from the table shared in the book “The Growth Mindset Coach” by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley.




Here is a link to the podcast on this topic that you can listen to on Spotify, Soundcloud, or Apple Podcasts or watch on YouTube. Although there is some overlap, the blog is VERY different from the podcast, so hopefully, you can pick up some ideas from both.





Finding Challenges Before Challenges Find You 


This is the final post of this series, and I will tell you, it has been challenging. 

Which is why I did it.

Too often, it is easy to do what we do and then wonder why things aren’t necessarily getting better in our lives or why we aren’t growing. If you lift weights, one of the things that you need for muscle growth is to switch up your routine and “shock” your muscles into development. If you do the same thing repeatedly, it doesn’t lead to “maintenance” but regression.

As I wrote that statement, I was reminded of something I wrote in “The Innovator’s Mindset“:



This doesn’t mean we have to quit our jobs and go live in the mountains or something drastic like that (although that does seem like a fabulous idea on certain days!). But how can we challenge ourselves to do new things within the old structures, even within our current realities, routines, and roles?

A couple of examples from my own life.

The first is this blog series.

I have been blogging for over a decade and try to switch things up while maintaining the writing process. 

Typically, I will blog and then record a podcast on the topic. This time, I recorded the podcast and listened to it while I wrote. It seems like a simple reversal, but turning on a camera and microphone can be daunting because I never know what will spark in the moment. It is easy to delete a line or statement that you don’t like in a blog post and rewrite it. But in my podcasts, I just say what I say. Of course, I could delete things before it is published, but I do my best to talk with all the “umms” and “awws” in the recording. It feels more raw, but I authentically learn from that process.

Even writing a “series” of posts is challenging and helps me to dive deeper into a topic. I wrote a series of posts in 2023 on “Rethinking Grading and Assessment,” and it pushed me to go past the “one-off” post without writing an entire book. It was a nice middle space that I hadn’t done in this space for a LONG time, and it was a new wrinkle that I threw into a very established routine. 

The second thing where I am challenging myself within my current structures is through my current marathon training. I have lost a significant amount of weight over the past few years, but I could feel boredom in my routines, and although I was committing to working out every day, I was more “there” during that time rather than putting in my best effort with that time. I needed to switch it up.

Now, I have a detailed daily schedule, write down my running times, and try to focus on progression each week. Through my goal of running a marathon and the commitment it takes to complete it, the side-effect is that I am getting physically stronger and building my endurance. 

This is an excellent quote from Andy Andrews in his book, “The Seven Decisions”:



“To achieve the results I desire, it is not even necessary that I enjoy the process. It is only important that I continue the process with my eyes on the outcome. An athlete does not enjoy the pain of training; an athlete enjoys the results of having trained.

Andy Andrews



We can challenge ourselves to reach a higher potential even within our current contexts.

The trick to pursuing these new challenges in my life is not the result of overthinking but definitely “underthinking.” Perhaps, maybe not thinking at all.


  rob riggle raise hand GIF by Team Coco


I was in the gym one day, floating around, and suddenly, I thought, “I should sign up for a marathon.” It dawned on me that the Disney Marathon in Orlando would be great, so I Googled it and saw that registration was happening about 40 minutes from when I got the idea. So at 10 AM that morning, I went to the link and sat there for an hour, waiting patiently to be allowed to pay to run 42 kilometers. I was signed up, and although I had no plan, I had a plan to make a plan.

This blog started the same way, and so did my podcast. I decided one day to do these things respectively, and years later, I continue to do them. I probably would have talked myself out of both endeavors if I had thought about it too much.

In education, meetings seem to be the norm. We will have meetings to prepare for meetings. It was never my favorite because action leads to results, not talking about things you might do.

Could I fail in something I commit to hastily? Yes.

But the biggest failure, in my opinion, is not even starting.



As I grow older, I realize that most of my regrets are not things that I am embarrassed by from my past (there are lots of those!), but it is the things that I wish I would have done!

In the podcast, I shared that the people who are obsessed with growing and looking to get better always do better than the people who become complacent with where they are now.

That means you will seek out challenges before they find you. The opportunity to grow is always there if you are willing to take it.

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