ISSUE 80 ISSN 1712-468

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.

Theodore Rubin

My Source Experience - Journal

My Source


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This Week´s Inspiration

The Gift of Challenges and Problems 

Challenge:  a stimulating or interesting task or problem.

Problem: a question raised for consideration or solution; an unsettled question; a source of perplexity or vexation.

The only people who don’t have problems are no longer living. 

Most of us at some time have wished that life was easier. In reality, life was not designed for such grand expectations. 

Think about it. When we go to see experts—about our car, our health, and everything in between—we value the experts’ ability to solve our problems.

What would you think of those experts if they made comments like these?

  • That’s too challenging for me.
  • This will take some work! I only work on easy problems.
  • Sorry, I prefer challenges where I don’t have to think too much.

Our confidence in them would be marginal at best—and we certainly would avoid them in future. 

So, if we expect others to solve problems, shouldn’t we be able to solve problems ourselves?

The greater our ability to solve problems, the more valuable our contributions become. And, the more complex the problem, the higher the value of the person who solves it.

How do you look at your problems? Are you in the group that whines or the group that is thankful for all the challenges that life sets before them?

I have little patience for individuals who complain about all their problems because, outside of confirming what the problem is, that approach has no upside. Whining does not fix anything; it merely increases the mental stress around the challenge. 

Challenges must be embraced as a gift. Why? They teach you to develop the skills and the character to deal with the issues at hand and the problems that you will encounter in the future. 

For example: You are a manager about to hire for a new position at your company. 

  • One candidate has led a sheltered life; all his problems were handled by others around him. He’s a nice person but, when confronted with a challenge, he freezes and is usually unable to help solve it. Thus, he avoids or hands off most challenges to other people.
  • A second candidate is less educated but has excellent problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. She embraces a problem as an opportunity and usually comes up with several options to help resolve the situation.

Which person would you prefer to have in your organization? 

Look in the mirror and ask yourself these questions.

  1. Do I see problems as burdens that must be avoided, at all costs?
  2. Do I embrace challenges as opportunities that can build value and help me feel vital? 

Great leaders are great problem-solvers. In essence, they get paid to remove obstacles. If you expect to fulfill a leadership position—paid or volunteer—you must accept that troubleshooting is an essential part of the work. Success in leadership is as much about mindset as it is about capability. If you can’t tolerate doing battle with problems—your ability to focus on solutions, stay calm, and command credibility from others will be significantly reduced.

On the other hand, if you believe that dealing with challenges is fundamental to the business of life, then dealing with problems will not take you out—emotionally or mentally.

That said, we do need to acknowledge that each of us has a different capacity level when it comes to handling problems. Some have roles that are always concerned with problem-solving. An air traffic controller is an example. The success rate for training for that job is very low. Why? With the high level of problem-solving skills critical to that role, few people can keep a cool head.

  • First, let’s acknowledge that challenges are here to stay.
  • Second, you have your own unique capacity to problem-solve. 

Confidence, experience, and skills can highly influence the level of challenges you can handle. To help you in your journey, I am recommending four CRG resources. The Leaderships Skills Inventory–Self will assist you to establish your leaderships skills, including your problem-solving skills. And consider the Personal Style Indicator, Self Worth Inventory, and Values Preference Indicator—assessments that will point you toward your strengths and help you understand your problem-solving orientation.

We all face challenges; there’s nothing unique there. What is unique is the way we approach our challenges. 

Be thankful for them because, when you have no problems, you’re no longer living.

Having a dream is what keeps you alive. Overcoming the challenges makes life worth living. 

Mary Tyler Moore

This Week´s Action Steps

Parenting Getting It Together

  1. We don’t have child-behavior problems, we have parenting problems.
  2. If you have children, are you completely happy with their behavior, health, and attitudes? If your answer is Yes, why? If your answer is No, why?
  3. Do you take full responsibility for the role of being a parent? If not, why?
  4. If you are the parent of children, even older teenagers, who’s in charge off what they do, eat, and think?
  5. Don’t buy into the thinking that kids know what they want and need at younger ages. That idea is ridiculous. If I am 5 years old and have a choice between candy and healthy fruit, what do you think I will select?
  6. Stop killing your kids with unhealthy foods. Limit or eliminate all sugar-based foods, pop/soda, and candy. Increase healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables and watch their behaviors improve!
  7. Limit TV/computer time to no more than 2 hours a day. With the odd exception, don’t use the TV as your babysitter.
  8. No TVs or computers in kids’ bedrooms.
  9. Set up creative activities, games, and crafts for your kids. They need to think more.
  10. Arrange family-based exercises such as walking, biking, hiking, team sports activities, etc. Children under 15 should have an hour of physical activity each day.
  11. Set bedtimes and routines.
  12. Don’t let friends and families undermine your plans. Set standards that your kids will follow when they are out visiting. Well-meaning grandparents can be guilty of overindulging kids.
  13. There is no replacement for having focused, uninterrupted quality time with your kids.
  14. Move away from the societal norm of providing treats like ice cream or other unhealthy foods as rewards. 
  15. If you don’t have children, you know people who do. And if there are parenting issues, be a real friend and challenge the parents about them. If you don’t, you are committing the sin of omission.
  16. Few privileges equal being a parent. 
  17. Finally, parenting, given the right skills and strategies, is no greater a challenge than anything else in life.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!.

Ken Keis

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