In any given week, do you feel like you encounter more problems or more opportunities? Does it sometimes feel like you are being met with a problem or issue to resolve every time you turn around?
It doesn’t have to feel like that. Henry Kaiser said, “Problems are Opportunities dressed in work clothes.” The reality is that every problem we incur can be seen as an opportunity if we chose to look at it a little differently. Every opportunity we are given, could also be felt or seen as a problem. So what is the difference between them?
Our perspective… How we think is the only difference between an opportunity and a problem! More often than not, when situations arise that we don’t prefer, we look at them as problems. It is how the majority of us were raised and how the majority of humans think.
It is interesting to note that the older we get the more negative we perceive things. Children have so much more open curiosity than we have as adults. Let me give you an example of how I experienced this difference and when it became crystal clear to me that as adults we have a tendency to only see the problem.
Several years ago I was moving my daughter from St Louis to Chicago. I borrowed my brother’s pickup truck and we loaded it up with her stuff. It was supposed to rain so we covered the stuff in the bed of the truck with tarps and I tied all kinds of rope around the tarps so they wouldn’t blow off when we were on the highway.
We get on the road the next morning. My daughter was in her car and my 9 year old grandson Landon was in the truck with me. Landon is my travel buddy & he has been helping me move his 2 aunts and 1 uncle into, during and out of colleges & from one city to another since he was about 4. Together we have moved them many times.
As we drove up to Chicago we had to stop every 45 min or so, re-adjust the tarps and tie them down again. They were blowing everywhere. After the 4th stop, Landon asked if he could get out and stretch his legs. I agreed and he got out and was watching me readjust the tarp and tie it up again.
After about 10 min he walked over to me and said, “ Grandma – why don’t you put that rope in those holes (referring to the grommets on the edges of the tarp) instead of wrapping it around the sides and top?
I looked at him, looked at the grommets, laughed at myself and said, “Well I think that is a great idea Lan!” I untied what I had already done and retied the tarps, this time using the grommets. We got back into the truck, headed down the highway and we did not have to stop again, until we reached our destination. WOW, what a simple solution! I think I giggled internally the whole way to Chicago. We still talk about trip and his wisdom to this day!
Every time I looked out and saw the tarp blowing around, I saw a problem. The more it happened, the more frustrated I got. Every time I stopped, I kept tying the tarp the same way & never really stopped to think about the opportunity.
Landon, saw the opportunity. He looked at it with open eyes, with curiosity, with no emotional baggage attached. And yes, he saw the grommets I never paid attention to.
Our mindset determines how we view the world around us. We can choose how we view things. Although we cannot control other people or circumstances, we do have total control of ourselves and how we choose to think.
How often are you missing solutions, because you are looking at an issue or a circumstance as a problem rather than an opportunity?
Below are 3 tips you can use when you find yourself in a position that you were prefer not to be in & or not to have to deal with at this point in time.
- Take 3 – 4 deep breaths. Inhale through your nose, hold it for a few seconds, then exhale through pursed lips.
- Look at this issue or circumstance as an observer. Pretend that you are not personally involved, instead, it involves a very good friend who just told you about it. How might you counsel that friend? What ideas might you be able to come up with to help that friend?
- Think of your 10 year old self having over heard your parents, aunts, uncles or even older siblings talk about this issue. With the curiosity of a 10 year old, ask yourself what questions might come to mind that the answers could possibly help resolve the issue or situation.
By using this type of breathing you can and will relax your nervous system. It may take more than 3 or 4 breaths, just keep doing it until you feel your body relax. When you take yourself out of the situation, you can begin to look at it with less emotion around it and possible come up with more or clearer ideas. Once you take yourself out of it and remove the emotional charge, I love approaching things with Child like curiosity.