Challenges Are Good For Us

This week some of you have participated in the daily mini-Brilliance Nugget writing challenge. Thank you for writing and sharing! One more day to go!

Reflecting on my life so far, I have taken on many challenges along the way. Going the “easy way” often seemed boring to me.

A couple of stories:

A New Challenge And An Awesome Teacher Infuenced My Career Path

When I was in 7th grade in Germany, I switched schools. My old school was more focused on languages than on natural sciences. I had not taken a single chemistry class by the time I showed up in 8th grade at the new school (the background photo in the header is of Kierspe, the town I grew up in).

Suddenly, I’m sitting in chemistry class, and I’m thinking, “Wow, I don’t know whether I can do this.” My chemistry teacher, Bernd Kussner, was terrific. He said, “Sure, you can!” He was right. Soon, I was doing quite well. That was the beginning of my path of becoming a Ph.D. chemist.

It is pretty wild how the encouragement of one person can make all the difference.

The other part is: Allow yourself to take on a new challenge. Do it, even if it seems “impossible” or the “wrong timing.”

Rock Climbing?!

Later, we had an annual “project week in high school.” Teachers created all kinds of cool projects for us. Students chose a project according to their interests. You could try out silk screen printing, participate in a science project, explore Roman history, … to name a few projects. Another project was to get an introduction to rock climbing. I knew next to nothing about rock climbing. I don’t remember what I chose that year (science or art) – but it was not rock climbing.

Yet, I remember watching the rock climbing group as they rappeled from the top of the school’s roof – all four stories of it. I was fascinated. I wanted to find out more. That is how I became a rock climber. I joined our local mountaineering club. During the upcoming winter, I learned all about tying knots, gear, safety, and climbing “theory.”

When Spring came, we drove to the outdoor “Klettergarten” (natural rocks some 30-60 yards high) about one hour from where I lived.

I was nervous. Would I really do this? I did. Over time, as you would expect, I climbed routes of increasing difficulty. I began to lead some routes (you climb up first and anchor the rope into safety devices you install as you go up). We went climbing in the Alps, too. These were such amazing experiences!

I did all that, although no one had ever considered me particularly athletic. I became so passionate about rock climbing I thought I would never marry anyone who was not a rock climber. Luckily, I changed my mind on that. LOL.

The point is: (most) challenges are good for us. They bring out things in us that we might not see at the start when we take on the challenge. A challenge may be small or large. But you never know where it will lead you.

I’m Curious

  • Which is one challenge you can think of that you weren’t so sure about in the beginning?
  • When you took it on, where did it lead you?

Live Brilliantly,

Dr. Stephie

P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!

Stephie Althouse

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