You read that title right – problems are gifts. Now, before you tune out, please know that this is not another “just think positive” pep talk! We all have real life problems and putting a positive spin on them doesn’t make them magically go away. So that is not what we are going to suggest. Rather, we want to take a look at the opportunities that our problems can provide for us to have really meaningful relationships with our significant others, with our kids, and, yes, with ourselves, all while growing a successful business.
There Are problems … and Then There Are Problems
So, even though we can acknowledge that we all have problems, all of us actually have very different ideas about what a problem is. When Andrew does coaching, he often asks a very simple question: “What is a problem? How would you define it to a five-year-old?” His experience has been that successful people have very different answers than the people who are struggling.
When we are struggling, it’s easy to see problems as something we want to be rid of because they seem to be keeping us from success or from getting what we want. But, when we are feeling successful, we tend to see problems as gifts, opportunities to solve, situations that are going to take us to a higher level.
Create Problems…Lots of Them
So if you want to be successful, your job is to create more problems faster. It sounds wild, right? But hear us out. Think about income tax. The average person hopes to owe nothing in taxes … and preferably to get a refund, right? But, if you owe $250,000 to the IRS, that’s a really great, quality problem to have because it means that you did $1,000,000 in business over the past year. It also leads to other quality problems like, how will I find a quality CPA who will help us to keep a portion of that million. That's what we're really looking at. We're not trying to get rid of things. We're trying to move towards them.
Know the Game You’re Playing
The same idea can be applied to our relationships as well.
If we don't have a problem in our marriage, we're probably not married. If I have no problems with my kids, I probably don't have any. If I haven't pulled a muscle, I'm probably not working out. I'm probably not exercising.
The problems arise because we're involved. We're in the game. When we understand the game, the problems aren’t a crisis because they don’t come as a surprise. We don’t go into crisis mode when we have to stop and solve a problem, because we know that problems solving is a part of the landscape because there is growth going on.
Concepts Vs. Reality
A while back, we got a new puppy. Now, when people think of puppies, they think of wagging tails, they think of excitement, they think of cuteness – it’s easy to fall in love with those ideas. But the reality of having a puppy is different from the idea of having a puppy.
The reality is that the dog is going to pee, poop, chew, run off and do all of the things that puppies do. It’s a part of the game. So, if we’re going to be in that game, we've got to fall in love with the reality of owning a puppy, the reality of marriage, the reality of being a parent, the reality of owning a business.
Choose Your “Hard” and Fall in Love with Reality
So many people have the concept of, "I'm going to get married. It's going to be a wonderful wedding day and we're going to live happily ever after." But the reality is life is hard. And if you want a great marriage, it's going to be hard. And if you want a bad marriage, it's going to be hard. If you want to be in shape, it's going to be hard. If you want to be out of shape it, it's going to be hard. Running your own business, it's going to be hard. And if you want to work for somebody, it's going to be hard. We've got to choose our hard. And we've got to choose to fall in love with what the reality is of what we're doing.
If you're playing monopoly and it says, "Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go." Don't have a hissy fit.
You're playing monopoly. If you don't like that rule, don't play monopoly. Go play chess, but don't get angry when one of your pawns gets taken because that's the game you're in.
What Are the Take-aways?
Most people want to get rid of problems, but successful people realize that they want to create problems. When we know that’s what we’re about, we're not surprised when they come up.
We need to fall in love with the reality of what we want instead of just loving the idea of it.
We don't grow through easy times. Problems are a part of life. Effective solutions create change and change often creates new problems. The secret is finding an empowering meaning in each opportunity you are faced with."
We’re not going to get rid of problems. But we can accept that this problem, this challenge, is here for our growth not against our growth.
We can rise to the challenge.
When we understand “problems” as the challenging gifts that they are, we react differently … and the people around us (especially our kids) notice. They see how we react to problems, and it makes a difference. Make a decision to solve the problem, invite change in, and invite others into the process.
If you are more a “listener” than a reader, tune into our podcast Gift of Challenges!
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