1 min read

How to Make Your Problems Useful

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There's no way to avoid problems, I'm afraid. Problems are like cockroaches and glitter: even when the world ends, they'll still be there.

The best you can hope for is to progressively upgrade the problems you face to better ones as you grow.

Worried about your big project going over deadline? Awesome, remember when you worried you'd never get it funded? Upgraded problem, ready to solve.

Worried about your work/life balance? Awesome, remember when you were worried you wouldn't have a family? Or when you were unsure you'd find a job you enjoyed? Upgraded problem, at your service.

Worried about interest rates? Awesome, remember when you were worried about saving enough for a deposit on your first house? Upgraded problem, here we go.

You get the point. 

The best thing to do with problems, aside from be grateful for them, is to treat them the same way we treat mistakes: as useful devices for growth. The most obvious way to do that is to learn from them.

But there's other options too, like...

  • Seizing the opportunity to ask bigger questions and re-examine your goals and motives 
  • Developing new skills and capabilities that you will draw on next time you're faced with something similar
  • Building relationships with others by asking for help, guidance or collaboration.

And of course, my personal favourite:

  • Use the problem to serve others.

I like making sense of problems through writing, blogging, training and speaking because that way, other people can benefit from them too. I get a fresh perspective on my thinking, and my audience or students have an opportunity to poke, learn, ask questions and grow together. Win/ win!

How can you, as a leader in your peer group, community, family, team, or organisation, make your problems more useful? Can you learn from them, develop new skills, build new relationships, ask bigger questions, or serve others?

'd love to hear your thoughts on this one!

Til next week.