Recently my client told me that she was dealing with an endless sea of problems, and couldn’t see an end in sight. She was clearly discouraged and needed encouragement, and a healthy dose of support to help her to check her negativity and develop a more positive attitude. Have you ever been to the point of frustration where you begin to believe that life is just one problem after another?
It’s All Perspective, Isn’t It? One of my mentors loves to remind me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. He always adds that the beauty of problems is likewise, in the eye of the beholder. He reminds me that problems can only be big when I am small. Think about that for a moment. The only way a problem can become enormous is when you allow yourself to be smaller than the problem. When you allow yourself to become large and in charge, the problems just sort of shrink by comparison. Choose your perspective and choose your attitude towards them. You can get busy dying, or get busy living, as Andy Dufresne said in “Shawshank Redemption.”
Is It A Problem, Or An Opportunity? Be careful and mindful of the labels that you hang on your challenges in life. I have found out the hard way, that thinking of problems as problems is but one way to look at them, and it limits the mind’s ability to devise solutions to them. Thinking of problems as a golden opportunity to show your best work, to strut your stuff, and to find out what you’re made of is a better, more positive viewpoint. Think of problems as a first step toward learning and growth, as another step in a lifelong journey toward enlightenment.
Expectations Make All The Difference. I have worked with people who looked at every day with the unrealistic hope that it would be perfect and uninterrupted by the appearance of challenges and problems. Those folks are almost always miffed and upset when a problem arises, and they need to recalibrate their expectations and begin to move items around on their calendar to address the challenge. On the other hand, I have also worked with some people who expected problems every day and reminded themselves that problems are a fact of life in business. These people expected to handle issues every day and left an hour or two of flexibility in their calendar to deal with the urgencies that came their way. Because they were expecting these problems, they did not come unglued when an obstacle appeared in their path. They had anticipated it and were able to deal with it much more positively and proactively as a result of their mindset. Expect problems. Expect to eradicate them quickly and move on, happily!
Be Relentlessly Optimistic & Positive! When you recognize that the things in life that don’t kill you make you stronger, it gets easier to handle problems and challenges. By viewing them in a way that minimizes their ability to stop you or to knock you off your game, you take command of the situation. Change is a fact of life. Positive change is the norm in most people’s lives, and yet, millions of us cower in fear when change comes along. Problems are a lot like change; they are a fact of life. Most of the people I’ve met in this life have shown themselves to be pretty amazing problem solvers. I think our ability to solve problems is one of the things that differentiates the human race. Embrace it! Recognize that you’ve probably solved well over 90% of the problems you’ve faced in your lifetime, and when the next problem arrives, welcome it into your day, and dispatch it without breaking a sweat!
So, back to my client, the one who was swimming through an endless sea of problems and couldn’t see the end in sight. We built her a boat, and now she’s rowing past those problems and bobbing along feeling much more positive. She recognizes now that she’s sitting in the captain’s chair, and that solving problems is one of her strengths and one of the reasons she gets the captain’s chair. Her frustration has been significantly reduced, and she is now looking forward to, and embracing, and enjoying the solving of problems.
What about you? What’s your situation? Have you gotten frustrated to the point that one or two more problems could become the straw that breaks the camel’s back for you? Are you one or two challenges from a meltdown? I hope not. With a bit of an attitude adjustment, you can master the problems that are coming your way and set a fine example for those around you to be resilient and creative, and to embrace the opportunity to demonstrate your incredible problem-solving skills. If you’d be so kind as to tell us a story about your ability to overcome a problem, we’ll send you our Best Practices for Problem Solving.
Michael is a business advisor in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes and one star-crossed NFL team. If you’d like to see more of Michael’s writings on business best practices, visit Michael’s website at www.michaelbeachcoach.com. If you’d like to check out some of Michael’s free videos on business leadership, go to YouTube and search for Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting. Michael would love to help you become a better problem solver!