Where is the struggle?

Making a sandwich is something most of us can do and (at least in the US) is within reach. We gather bread, fillings, a knife and go to work. It’s a skill most of us learned at a young age. We don’t often struggle to make a PB&J.

Now imagine you’re staring at a blank canvas, and have been asked to paint a portrait of a child. You look at the child, the canvas, the paint brushes – and you’re not sure where to start because you’ve never painted a portrait before. You have paint, a subject, brushes, and a canvas. But struggle is immanent because you don’t have the ability to paint this portrait.

Take now the local tech wiz who dreams of building a mobile app to help her fellow villagers locate safe water sources in the area. She has a laptop, unreliable electricity, slow internet access, and little money. She wants to learn how to create this app and will pour her soul into it given the opportunity. Struggle is immanent because she doesn’t have the resources or abilities.

An engineer sits in his home office wanting to design bridge supports, water management solutions, and help certify building are safe for clients. He knows how – he has an engineering degree and practiced for 10 years in his home country. But where he lives now will not recognize his accomplishments and grant him an engineering license. Struggle is immanent because he has no agency over his abilities.

Struggle comes in different forms for different people in different situations. A good litmus test to determine how much struggle you have ahead of you is to weigh three factors: Agency, Resources, and Abilities.

If you lack one, there will be a challenge ahead.

Lack two, and the challenge is greater.

Lack all three, and it may be impossible.

Knowing where the struggle is helps to identify where to focus most of your energy to achieve your goals.