‘Challenge’ is one of those words whose meaning has changed over the last few years. Or, to be more accurate, the implied meaning of the word has changed. My pocket Oxford Dictionary defines the word thus:
‘Calling to respond; summons to take part in a duel or other contest; demanding or difficult task.’
Which part of this definition appeals to me? None. Challenges, as can be seen by reading the above, are not fun. They involve coercion, hardship, or getting killed in a duel. Piloting a stricken destroyer up the Yangtze is a challenge. Living on the minimum wage is a challenge. Things that aren’t a challenge include: Drinking tea whilst looking out the window at heavy rain falling. Picking random tunes on a guitar. Having a bath even though you don’t need one. I know which I’d rather be doing.
Challenges, the job adverts would have you believe, are now to be seen as a Good Thing. ‘Working in a fast moving and challenging environment’, ‘helping young adults with challenging behaviour’, ‘a job for creative professions who like a challenge’
Have you ever been asked when at an interview or promotion meeting, ‘do you relish a challenge?’. ‘No I bloody don’t, frankly’ is the correct answer. Challenges involve getting up early, forcing people to do what they’d rather not, hard work, and the possibility of a top-hatted man firing a flintlock pistol at you.
If it’s a question of employment, I’d like it to be reasonably paid, fairly interesting and not too difficult.
But a Challenge? No Thanks.