What if the problem wasn’t actually the real problem? I’m sure if you’re in business that you will have pondered such things before.
The ability to ask yourself this question will be one of the greatest strengths you can ever develop. It’s a gift that some people have innately while others will labour to acquire.
“Why is it difficult?” you might ask. Well one of the reasons is that we may not wish to confront the truth because sometimes we, ourselves are the problem. If acknowledging the real problem means looking in the mirror at the person responsible, sometimes we’d rather see what’s through the window than what’s in the mirror reflection. It’s essentially often a self-defence mechanism. After all, who wants to take the blame and feel bad about themselves?
Here’s the thing though – people who make things happen, the ones we look up too and label as ‘successful’ are just as human as you and I. They may not want to accept the burden of responsibility for failure, yet they will, if it means learning from the issue and moving forwards. There’s an old adage that in order to succeed you must first be willing to fail. The more times you fail, the closer you must be, if the odds are correct, to finally succeeding.
It’s not always a succeed or fail thing though. Sometimes it’s about a shift in perception.
Sally lost her job after 22 years of loyal service, never taking a sickie, always working back late to get stuff done. Yet one cold Monday morning they retrenched her. There was no gold watch, no fond farewells, no actual re-training options – just a tick in a box that said ‘Yes, we did offer to re-train her’. What a reward for 22 years of loyalty and conscientious commitment to the cause. It was a disaster – the worst thing that Sally ever experienced. Or was it?
Six months later, Sally found herself sipping Pina coladas on a white sandy beach in Tahiti, enjoying the holiday of a lifetime with her new husband, a man she met because she was out for a walk one day, instead of being chained to her desk with the overly large and excessively full in-tray. How fortunate, she told new friends in the hotel bar that evening, that her old boss had fired her butt on that life-changing day. How quickly ‘disaster’ can be re-labelled as ‘opportunity of a lifetime!’
So when you’re problem-solving at work, pause for a moment to ask this simple question – “Is this problem the real problem?”
Thus you can free your mind to consider all of the possibilities – things like, “What is the Universe really trying to teach us here?” or “What other opportunities might this ‘problem’ create?”
One of the biggest shifts could be, “If I were to change how I look at this, would I see it differently?”
“No” you rebut, “Absolute hogwash, of course the problem is the problem!”
Maybe it is and maybe you don’t believe in all that ‘Universe stuff’, but what if it was both a problem AND an opportunity? Sometimes you have to look hard; sometimes it takes someone like a business coach like me to point it out, but the more you look for the other angles, the more you find. Give it a try – who’s for a Pina colada?