How to Reinvent Your Relationship with Problems and Opportunities
Problems call for response.
- Stress narrows your focus and makes you stupid.
- Disappointment invites introspection, blame, or both.
- Threats call you to fight, fly, or freeze.
The way you define something determines your relationship with it.
When you redefine a problem, you reinvent your relationship with it.
Problems stand cross-armed blocking the path ahead.
Problems need to be defeated, solved, overcome, or driven out.
Leaders facing problems define themselves as warriors driven to defeat adversaries.
The only fear in opportunity is missing it.
Opportunities stand open-armed in a doorway. Opportunities create a path ahead.
Problems become opportunities when you redefine your relationship with them.
Opportunities call for creativity, vision, enthusiasm, and boldness.
Leaders facing opportunities must become courageous innovators shaping their world.
Response to the external world reflects who you are and shapes who you become.
Will Durant summarized Aristotle when he wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do.” (Pg. 98) Aristotle originally said, “… these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions.”
Action is formative.
Your best self emerges when you define problems as opportunities. This isn’t hocus pocus.
You are still accountable. The path forward is yet to be defined. And most importantly, you are fully responsible for your actions and attitudes.
Problem as opportunity:
- Reach beyond elimination to creation.
- Include starting. Opportunities are seized by starting something.
- Reflect on long-term transformation rather than stop-gap reactions.
How is this problem an opportunity?
- Better serve customers.
- Improve processes and create efficiencies.
- Deepen communication and connection.
- Develop yourself and others. The first opportunity every problem presents is self-development.
- Shape the future.
Problems concern the past. Opportunities define your relationship with the present and shape your future.
Every time you shift the way you define yourself, you shift the environment you create.
How might leaders shift from problem-thinking to opportunity-thinking?
How to Change Your Mindset to See Problems as Opportunities | Inc.com
4 Ways to Turn Problems into Opportunities | Leadership Freak
How might leaders shift from problem-thinking to opportunity-thinking? Perhaps seeing there is a bigger picture compared to an isolated situation. How will the actions of one affect the actions of 100’s, 1000′ or more on the decision they are about to make? For example the governments actions or lack of actions during the Pandemic? Surely those we elect need to read this post today! For “the shepherd leads their flock”! Right now the flocks are wandering with no sound guidance or lack of supported factual guidance, yet the opportunities exist. Beyond that who do we believe? There are so many contradictions out there, “We the people are in trouble”, until someone take the reigns and creates a long term transformation.
Thanks Tim. We can’t underestimate the value of getting a clear view of the big picture, even when immediate concerns press for attention…. or I should say, especially when immediate concerns press for attention.
The big picture provide purpose and direction for today’s action.
It seems to me a first significant shift is towards true enjoyment and pleasure in one’s work & colleagues. I saw this years ago in my stepfather’s leadership of his team – an eclectic bunch of builders with interests far beyond bricks&mortar.
The excitement of opportunity rather than the drudge of problem solving. This of course also may hinge on the working environment, resources and relationships. Create the environment of enjoyment, or know when to join it elsewhere.
Thanks Cazzaroonie. What a powerful idea. Too many organizations/leadership teams neglect the idea of enjoyment. We would do well to give ourselves permission to enjoy our work and each other.
The other thing that comes to mind is that enjoyment is a by-product of making a contribution.
Good morning Dan and thank you again for your pearls of wisdom. This one spoke to me today. I have often heard of “fight or flight” but “fight, fly or freeze” is definitely more comprehensive. If I feel threatened or fear – I freeze. But the concept perceived is redefining the problem as an opportunity. Cheers to a more rewarding and prosperous New Year!
Good morning Jackie. Thanks for sharing you insight today. Here’s to defining problems as opportunities. 🙂
The opportunity is what lies beyond the problem. The problem is an obstacle. If you just focus on the obstacle you never see the opportunity.
Solving the problem frees you up to pursue the opportunity.
Thanks Paul. “The opportunity is what lies beyond the problem.” That statement give direction. We transform problems to opportunities when we look beyond the problem. Yes, we must deal with the present. But looking beyond the present gives us guidance.
The issue with your inductive reasoning is that opportunities will not come to fruition if the problems are not dealt with one-by-one deductively.
So glad you dropped in Victoria. There’s no intention of avoiding, neglecting, or ignoring the current situation. Today, I’m thinking more about a way of seeing.
Even a broken cog on a machine is an opportunity.
I wonder about crisis? We can’t think beyond the moment when the house is on fire. But, there is some evidence that if we don’t think beyond the burning house, we may make big mistakes while dealing with the fire.
Thanks for an opportunity to reflect. By nature, I focus on problems. A shift in thinking really helps me deal with people in useful ways.
I try to look at problems as a puzzle to be solved. This may go back to playing checkers or chess as a young person. But it makes the issue more of a fun challenge. Happy Holidays
Thanks Brad. I wonder if the ability to reframe is a key leadership skill. 🙂
Thank you Dan, but when your in survival mode, reflecting is a luxury you cannot afford.
When you redefine a challenge (not a problem) you reinvent your relationship with it. Opportunities stand open-armed in a doorway. Opportunities create a path ahead. “Challenges” are opportunities to use one’s talents and desires in crafting solutions with or without input from others. As humans we face challenges each day and how we go about tackling those challenges put’s us apart from others and helps us all contribute just a little good each day. I cherish opportunities and do not look at them negatively. I attempt to grasp them, wrestle with them and drive solutions. I love it, it jazzes me up but I’ve only been able to do this once I turned from looking at it all as problems to challenges that open up opportunity to me. You knew Dan I was going to cut the problem and make it challenge don’t you.
Thanks Roger. The idea that the way we tackle challenges is something that distinguishes us. People know us by the things we do while under pressure.
I find that problems create a sense of urgency. We choose whether or not to take advantage of an opportunity, but a problem cannot be ignored indefinitely. Reframing the problem to understand its effect and its cost to us and our intentions allows us to value its resolution.
Thanks Susan. It’s good of you to join the conversation. Urgency is one reason things get done. Once you decide there is an issue/problem that can’t be ignored, how might it be perceived through the lens of opportunity.
I wonder if the problems that should be ignored are the ones that can’t be defined as opportunities.