Our Problem with Problems

brokenglass

A problem appears.

Feelings rise.

Frustration.

Self-pity.

Anger.

Blame.

It’s kind of silly don’t you think?

The way we always act surprised.

Like today was going to be different.

You thought problems were not on the agenda.

No time in your schedule.

They’re funny like that, though.

They love to show up at the least opportune times.

Interrupting our best-laid plans.

And that’s the problem with problems, isn’t it?

We expect otherwise.

Even though we know otherwise.

So when they show up.

We blow up.

Over and over.

What if we choose a different perspective?

Variation.

Chaos.

Failures.

Surprises.

Are just part of the flow.

The natural course of things.

They will happen.

Always.

“Ah, there you are.”

“I was wondering when you would visit today.”

We don’t have to be happy about it.

But perhaps we could be more in tune.

Accepting instead of fighting.

Calm, thoughtful response.

Keeping perspective.

Listening.

Learning.

Helping.

Leaders get to see a lot of problems.

That’s what we do.

Yet, for some reason, leaders take it harder than anyone else.

Too often they make it worse.

But if there were no problems.

Would we even need leaders?

Problems create possibility.

Inspire ideas.

Fuel creativity.

Challenge assumptions.

Engage learning.

All problems are not created equal.

But every problem includes a seed of opportunity.

It all depends on the meaning you give to them.

The attitude you have toward them.

The illusion of control.

The story you tell.

Problems don’t care how much you complain.

Or vent.

Or plan.

Or manage.

Or shoot the messenger.

They just keep coming back.

So the only way to win.

Is not to play the game.

Learn to accept.

Understand.

And grow through the problems.

Instead of fighting with them.

You’ll have more energy.

More influence.

And more impact.

16 comments

  1. Good post Scott.

    ‘The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.’ ~Theodore Rubin

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    1. Thanks Samantha. I think you win the fastest comment to a published post on my blog. 🙂 Great quote and I promise I didn’t see it before (at least not that I recall). It really does come down to how we view problems doesn’t it? “Resistance is futile.” The Borg.

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      1. It just happens to be one of my favorite quotes so timing was optimal tonight! 🙂 Besides, it’s been awhile since I left a comment so thought I would drop in while I had the chance and the time. 😃

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  2. Scott – This is so real, so simple and so powerful!

    What an idea – to expect problems instead of perfection, to see them as opportunities instead of energy leaks and frustration!

    As I read your post I was reminded of our wedding. The pastor warned us to expect at least 1 thing to go wrong and not to let it ruin the day. During the ceremony we had arranged for a song to be played, and technology failed. When it happened we were so calm. This is that 1 thing. We waited as a technology fix was attempted, and finally went on. …And later played that song at the dance. It didn’t ruin the day. And now it’s a good story to tell.

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    1. Great story Chery. Thanks for sharing. In hindsight our problems often take on a different meaning.

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    1. Hi Chris – appreciate the thoughtful comment over on Medium. Look forward to further conversation. Wanted to give a quick reply and will follow more later. Thanks again.

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      1. Thanks so much Scott, great to connect on both sides of the blogosphere .. WordPress and Medium. Appreciate that you took the time. I’m new to Medium. We’ll see how this all works out! More soon ..

        Reply

  3. When you see a “problem” as an opportunity waiting for a solution, your whole perspective shifts. Not only is it a welcome challenge, it is also a step toward growth and change. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Good add, Gary. Agree that our approach to problems, the perspective we apply, is a part of our development. Has a significant impact on how we experience life and respond to what life brings our way.

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  4. I so love this Scott! “You thought problems were not on the agenda.” I know I waste a lot of energy in railing against the fact there is a problem rather than in solving it! Such a great attitude adjustment. I think I will print this out and put it on my wall!
    “Ah, there you are.”
    🙂
    Thanks!
    Lori

    Reply

    1. Lori – thanks so much for your kind comments. I’m so grateful that the thoughts I shared were helpful. Interesting to think of problems that come our way like an old friend rather than our enemy. I might put that greeting on my wall too! 🙂

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  5. Scott,

    Like your thoughts and words in this post! One of the words that popped out for me is “attitude.” How,what, why, and when we deal with problems centers on the attitude we use.

    Thanks!

    Jon

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    1. Great points John. Attitude will shape the how, what and why. The right attitude allows us to approach problems with wisdom and perspective. Thanks so much for sharing your insight.

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  6. How’s the saying go, “the problem is not the problem. It’s your attitude that is the problem.”

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