For many years, I fell into a trap: Working on problems.
What’s wrong with that?
Well, think about this: A problem is something that’s defined by your situation, or by someone else. Working on that problem means that you’re trying to find a solution that is just defined by that problem, and doesn’t usually address anything deeper.
Let me relate a personal example. When the volcano erupted recently in Iceland, I was stuck in London after working with some partners and clients. The immediate problem facing me was how to get home when all air travel was shut down.
As it turned out, this was also a tremendous opportunity. When some colleagues opened their home to me, I had the chance to do some interesting work with them, learn more about the culture of the country, and sample a number of great local beers. I spent some more money on travel expenses, but not as much as I would have expected given the circumstances.
Let’s look at what happened here: The immediate problem was fairly bad – air travel suspended for an indefinite time, no way to get home, and the prospect of spending a lot of money on hotels and eating out.
The possibility was that this unexpected delay would give me the opportunity to accomplish some things that I hadn’t had time for, perhaps even to have some fun. Sure, I had to reschedule some meetings and miss some events back home, but that was unavoidable. There’s no need to make it more painful than necessary.
So when you’re presented with a problem, ask yourself these questions:
- Looking at the new situation, is there a new opportunity that is arising?
- What is the best possible outcome?
- What could I do which would make the problem irrelevant?
It doesn’t work in every situation, but it’s a surprisingly useful way to view the world. And it helps you to have a lot more energy and enthusiasm about the future.
by Carl Dierschow