Decades ago CNN ran a very thought provoking advert on its television network. The advert depicted a typical small family at home. The children were playing in the house, the mother was cooking and the tired father was reading the newspaper. All seemed normal and mundane except for two things- the house was small and to complicate matters there was a gigantic elephant in the house. It was quite evident from outside that the elephant was making things difficult for them as they had to continuously negotiate their way around it, and the small size of the house was not helping matters. However, the family continued to act as if the elephant did not exist, a classic example of pretending that an abnormal situation is normal. This advert was all about alcoholism and how although it was ravaging families like a huge elephant in the house, most families were pretending that it was non existent. How do you respond when you have a huge elephant in the house?
In this issue we are not focusing on alcoholism but on problems. In a sense, almost everyone and every organization have his or its elephant in the house in the form of a problem that simply refuses to away. Although the severity of the adversity and the exact nature of problem differ between situations, most people have one or more. It is unhealthy to pretend, like the family in the advert that the problem does not exist because problems do not go away by simply wishing they did not exist. Problems are there to be resolved and the first step towards resolving any problem is to have a healthy perspective about a problem. To help us with this perspective it is helpful to consider the word P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. as an acronym.
P stands for PERSPECTIVE. The challenge that you face is not as important as how you perceive it. It is all a matter of perspective. What happens in life is not as important as how you respond to it. Most people are not defeated by opponents or problems but they defeat themselves by adopting wrong perspectives of the problem. Perspectives are all about seeing, and what matters is not what actually exists but what you see with your mind’s eye about the situation. Faced with challenges some see opportunities but some see opportunities. If you see a threat, a psychosis of fear is created and this will paralyze and eventually consume you. If you see an opportunity you are likely to capitalize on it and this will empower you.
R stands for RESISTANCE. Every problem gives you two options-to resist or to capitulate. William Shakespeare put it well when he said “take arms against your problems and by resistance conquer them.” There is no problem that can resist sustained and relentless efforts at finding creative breakthrough. No problem remains the same after an onslaught of action. It is far better to try and fail, than to capitulate without a fight. All people grow and mature and become more creative as they serious engage their challenges.
O stands for OPPORTUNITIES. Embedded in every problem is an opportunity. Some opportunities are more difficult to identify than others but all the same they exist. Every seed has an opportunity to become a plant, but every seed also faces the challenge of pushing through the soil before it can bud. Winners seek for opportunities in their problems, but losers look for problems with their opportunities. The choice is always with the individual.
B stands for Blessings. Problems are blessings in disguise. The challenge is for you to see through the disguise.
L is for LESSONS. We can learn something new from our problems and from those of others. Every problem brings with it a lesson and if the lesson is not properly mastered the problem tends to recur. For example, if you do not learn from your financial predicaments chances are that you will move from one predicament to another. Instead of being fearful of your problems be excited and thrilled by the lessons that you stand to gain. Problems are for a season but the lessons to be learnt are for a lifetime. They will stand you in good stead in the future.
E is for two things- EXPERIENCE and EASE. Problems give us valuable experience. Although we may never write this kind of experience on our C.Vs, it makes us streetwise. All our professions are a calling to problem solving and all products exist to solve human problems and needs. The experience that we gain in solving these problems and needs is what makes us more valuable to our customers and the society in general. The experience that we gain now makes our future problems easier to solve because the problems that we face today have certain things in common with the some of the problems that we will face tomorrow.
M is for two things MESSAGES and MAGNITUDE. Every problem brings with it a message, and often the message can be summarized by the phrase, “A stitch in time saves nine.” Every problem is warning that unless action is taken dire consequences will follow some day. Problems go through a metamorphosis. There is a stage in the progression of a problem when it is big enough in magnitude to be identified, but small enough to be easily solved. This is the best time for an intervention. If this opportunity is missed, the cost of solving the problem escalates.
S is for SIZE. Every problem has a size. However, what is important is not the size of the problem but the size of the determination to solve the problem that a man has. In a fight the size of the fighter is not as critical as the size of the fight in the heart of the fighter. The size of the problems that you face and solve is an indication of your greatness. Great men achieve greatness by continuously solving mega size problems. There is no other path to greatness.
There is a solution, in fact more than one solution, to every problem. Get a good perspective and get started.