Opportunities are the elixir of life, but you know those days where problems seem to multiply and instead of opportunities you just get more problems? It starts with one thing and before you know it you find yourself bombarded with irritating little challenges that spread like a rash across your ‘things to deal with’ list.
Not only that, but you then find that everyone you encounter seems to also be focused on problems and disaster rather than opportunities.
Take this morning for example. I started off by reading an email while I was still in bed – maybe I shouldn’t start my day with looking at my phone! It was an email regarding a problem in my cleaning business. Apparently, a Council of Owners of a strata had been dissatisfied with our cleaner since October 2015 and had been ‘trying’ to change cleaners, but hadn’t told us about it. This was symptomatic of a bigger problem around a question I’ve been asking myself about the constant quest to improve quality control, communication and opportunities to grow. I had mistakenly assumed that ‘no news was good news’.
With the next email I found I was dealing with a problem around improving the ways I market my coaching business, so I could increase my opportunities to work with more small business owners.
Then there was a ‘problem’ that my step-son Troy has with the light fitting in his room. Being a member of the techno-nerd generation, he had decided that his ordinary, boring white light globes were completely inadequate for his needs, so he had ordered at great expense the home delivery of a new Phillips hue light globe system – one where he can change the colours of the globes and the brightness, to suit his whims. Owing to his epilepsy tremor, he had called me in as the handyman to install the new globes. I had unbelievably been unable to remove the old globe from the antiquated light socket and was unwilling to use force in case it exploded in my hands.
Electricity is something I don’t like messing with. I have no idea how it works – my mind isn’t wired that way – I just trust that it’s not a good idea to lick a light socket (just in case you were thinking about doing so!). So, the outcome was that I persevered and got the globe out, only to discover that it was a bayonet fitting and his new globes were Edison screw! He didn’t appreciate my Step-Dad joke that it was a ‘light bulb moment’. As if that wasn’t enough, the result of the struggle was that the old light fitting now no longer worked – probably a loose wire.
Then we had the news that one of the female carers who comes in to look after him when my partner and I escape for dinners and outings had discovered that someone had cut the brake cables on her car (for a second time in a week!) Those responsible had seemingly cut the brake cables of everyone else in her street, so it wasn’t specifically targeting her. Nevertheless, the realisation that your entire families’ cars have had the brakes cut is somewhat disturbing!
So, all these things started my brain whirring away as it does…
No matter what our ‘problems’ are, they will seem awful to some onlookers and trivial to those with ‘far worse’ dramas to face, but either way, our problems are our problems and they are very ‘real’ to us.
When we try to snap a friend out of their grumpiness, we might point out that their sore foot pales into insignificance when compared with their mate with the broken leg. They can even acknowledge that, but it still doesn’t make Mr Grumpy’s foot suddenly feel better.
What it does do though is to lend our friend the element of perspective. When you consider that we are just one person with one ‘sore foot’ (substitute your own problem or problems here) living in a suburb of a town, near a city, in a state, of a country, on a continent, on a planet, in a solar system that’s part of a galaxy – I’ll stop there. You get the picture – our problems are like a flea on the butt of an elephant.
It’s all relative and it’s all about focus.
Our map of our world and how it works becomes a reflection of the things we focus on, which ultimately limits or increases our opportunities.
When you focus on what a bad day you’re having and how many problems you’re having, what do you attract?
Yup, more problems.
When you focus on how broke you are and how many bills you’ve got, what do you get?
The car breaks down; the fridge inexplicably stops working; the rates bill arrives and you get a speeding fine.
You ask yourself, “Why does this always happen to me?” You tell your story over and over to all your friends and summarise your plethora of evidence with, “This always happens to me.” They nod and murmur words of acknowledgement, secretly glad that they don’t have your problems.
Here’s the good news though…
When you change your state of mind; when you kick yourself up the backside, clap your hands and internally at least, shout “Enough. I can change this. I am changing this, NOW!” That’s when you take back control of the destiny of your tiny outpost on the backstreets of the Universe.
You start with changing your self-talk and you follow that by taking action that will avail you of new opportunities.
Remember the bad day I was having? It continued with me tripping over the edge of the lounge room carpet and almost face planting onto the slate floor; every egg shell I tried to peel off the boiled eggs for the lunchtime egg and salad wraps fragmented into a million pieces instead of coming off in big chunks in a co-operative manner; the egg slicer wire broke and so on. These potentially life-changing snippets of evidence that the Universe was against me today transformed into moments of comedy. Yes, I laughed in the face of adversity and I took whatever action I could, to turn my day around.
I encourage my clients to keep a journal and to take a moment on a regular basis to think about all the things in their life for which they can feel grateful and happy. It’s a simple shift, but you suddenly notice how bloody good your life actually is. The fact you even woke up today, carried on breathing and that you are even able to read this article are good points to consider, just in case you’re reading this with a cynical filter switched on.
Now take that a step further. Ask yourself, “What is the good thing about each of these problems? What lesson have they taught me?” Some are easier to see than others, I’ll grant you, but trust me – they are there, just waiting for you to discover them.
When people are late for an appointment with me, I substitute any angst with “Good, that gives me some time to think and make notes.” When a customer gives me the kind of feedback I didn’t want to hear, I remind myself that you can’t fix a problem you don’t know about and I ask myself, “How can we do this better?”
As you go about your day, remember this, because even though it may sound like a corny cliché, I assure you of its truth: When you change your perspective and you ask yourself, “How can I turn this setback to my advantage?” and “What is the good thing about this problem?”, but especially “What action can I take to change this?” and you will tap into a new world of possibilities and yes, even opportunities because of your new mindset – just give it a go!