The True Value of Persistent Problems and Nagging Distress
Problems are spiny gifts wrapped in sandpaper.
It’s foolish to wish for problem-free leadership.
The four benefits of persistent problems:
#1. The prospect of becoming your best self.
“Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do.” Francis Hesselbein.
Discomfort and distress are the hammer and anvil of becoming.
Personal growth gives meaning to persistent problems because problems help you become yourself.
“Leadership is synonymous with becoming yourself…” Warren Bennis
Becoming yourself requires conversations with the problems you face.
2 questions to ask nagging problems and recurring distress:
- Why are you here?
- Who are you calling me to become?
You lose yourself when solving problems is all you think about.
#2. The potential of an open mind.
An open mind reflects the potential of a new future. But the promise of a closed mind is repetition.
You aren’t open minded if you haven’t recently changed your mind.
Persistent problems are useful when you:
- Acknowledge you don’t know. Potential begins with knowing you don’t know.
- Practice curiosity longer than others.
- Rise above, “I’m right,” and allow others to be right.
- Try new things.
#3. The power of choosing your attitude.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Victor Frankl
The difference between success and failure is the attitude you choose toward the road ahead.
#4. The possibilities from taking action.
Personal development is the result of action, not simply contemplation. As you act, do three things.
- Work on yourself.
- Open your mind.
- Choose your attitude.
Arrogance short-circuits growth because it blames, excuses, and pretends.
Humility fuels growth because it accepts reality, takes responsibility, includes others, and doesn’t need to be right.
The value of a problem is the opportunity it creates.
How might problems and distress be the tools of authenticity?
What benefits do persistent problems offer?
Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl
The 12 Toughest Challenges of Leadership, (LF)
Persistent problems give us a change to
–challenge our assumptions
–redefine the problem —ask new questions
–re-frame the problem into an opportunity
–separate fact from fiction, what’s relevant from what’s irrelevant, what’s important from what’s unimportant, and separate what we can control from what we can’t control
–question –what’s holding us back
–get help from others
–try new things
Dan–as you indicate–all of this requires and open mind and heart.
Wow! Thanks for your insights, Paul. I don’t like having my assumptions challenged. But is my ASSumptions are never challenged then I become a you-know-what.
How might problems and distress be the tools of authenticity? Allows one to put their on stamp on the situation, provided “we are not using someone else’s suggestions or methods” for authenticity. Be your own star and let your light shine upon us!
What benefits do persistent problems offer?
Challenges Leaders for alternate solutions, pushes them to “Think outside the box”.
Sometimes points a finger at the Solvers or the others involved.
Reinvents the wheel.
Seek others input for guidance and enhancements.
Thanks Tim. Great stuff. “Bring your best self to the challenge!” That’s what you got me thinking about. You need to have the courage to face problems head on and trust that you have something to offer.
From one of my favorite books: ““Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Victor Frankl”. That said “problems” is such a negative connotation and should be replaced by “challenges”. A problem is something you saw on a math test in HS or College. Challenges are all around us every day, how one approaches and tackles those “challenges” is what sets one apart from others and with ones “attitude” sets one pathway to success.
Thanks Roger. Problems are challenges. That makes sense. One thing I want to acknowledge is the feeling of distress that comes with problems. But reframing is a huge help.
The way we look at a situation says as much about us as it does about the situation.
Dan: Here’s how I look at that distress. I’ve found that if you look at “problems” as “challenges” you can put the context in every situation in a better way. It helps me to contextualize almost everything when I do that. What is the challenge I am always asking? How do I approach this challenge? What do I need from others to help in the challenge? Can I handle the challenge or do I need to punt off to someone else who has a better skill set for that challenge? If I look at it as a problem that just gets in the way of my mind and body wrapping itself around the challenge. Again, challenge is a more positive term than problem so for me that sets my attitude in a positive direction for every challenge presented. I am not saying I solve all challenges but my mind set is firmly placed in better form to attempt said challenges.
Thanks Roger. Hats off for your insights. The thing that really pops for me is the idea that a problem is something that gets in the way. When a problem is defined this way, the idea of using challenge OR opportunity makes a lot of sense.
In my humble opinion, this piece was lighthearted in nature. People in leadership positions do not always deal with “lighthearted problems.” Over the weekend there were two mass shootings.” The Mayors of Dayton and El Paso had to deal with human beings who were gunned down in cold blood. I can only imagine the high levels of stress both mayors had to endure. People in leadership positions do not get to cherry pick which problems will surface in real-life. Problems will arise, arise, and arise once more. As a leader, a person must delve into real-life experiences and find the strength to handle whatever the issue is. How can someone define or make sense of something that is senseless? Both mayors had to lead and work during a crisis. That is a lot to juggle. Not only were they dealing with the death of people, but had to maintain their own emotions and feelings to remain professional. I am quite sure both mayors were carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Yet, the mayors had to appear calm and stoic in the face of adversity.