Four Steps to Turning Any Problem Into an Opportunity

What’s the difference between a problem and an opportunity? Isn’t it obvious? If your response to that question is that obviously, it’s the circumstances – think again. Have you ever heard of or seen two people achieving different outcomes, even though they began with the same circumstances?

For example, in the midst of an economic downturn, might one say that every company might expect to be similarly effected? Well, what about the ones that prosper? What makes the difference? The difference is in how one responds to the circumstances. For example, one luxury car dealership did very well during the economic downturn in the early ’90s. How? They gathered their staff and brainstormed and experimented with extraordinary responses to the problem at hand – no one was buying their luxury cars. The one that worked? They brought the cars down to the local country club and offered test drives. Sales went through the roof.

How do you respond in the face of problems? Do you get creative? Or discouraged? Do you look on the bright side? Or see all the things you don’t want to see? Here are 4 keys to turning this around in your own life, so that, like that luxury car dealership, you can thrive, even in challenging circumstances.

* “What if this were happening FOR me?”

Most people’s automatic response to a negative circumstance is to feel that it’s happening TO them. It’s easy to become victim mode and wallow in that. What if, instead, you were to ask yourself, “What if this were happening FOR me?” How is this ultimately contributing to me? How is it for my greater good?

* “What opportunities are opening up for me that didn’t exist before?”

Sometimes, when you lose the thing you most feared losing, it can free up a lot of energy. For example, if you were afraid to pursue your passion because it would mean giving up your employment, and then you lose your job, well, it’s time to pursue that passion! Or if you no longer have the opportunity to do something that used to occupy a lot of your time, what does that free up time for? Or if a relationship ends, what does that make available? And how might you step out and create something even better?

* “What do I really want?”

Every complaint, every negative, is an indication that there’s something you want that you don’t have. No one complains unless there’s some other option they believe would be better. So, if you’ve encountered a problem, use it as a pointer to what you want. Just turn around and shift your focus. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, you can even make a list of all of the reasons you’re seeing it as a problem, and then for each one, write down one or more things you can now see you want. And once you know what you want, focus on and progress toward it!

* “If I knew there was no such thing as failure, what would I do next?”

Once you’re seeing how this is happening FOR you, and you’ve uncovered the hidden opportunities, and clarified what you want, it’s time to get into action. Set some new goals, make plans, and start. “But what if I fail?” you ask. Afterall, this all began with a problem. How can you take more risks? Easy. Recognize that there is no failure. The difference between success and failure is simply this: Achieving success comes from flexibility, creativity, and tenacity. Failure occurs when people quit. Look at Thomas Edison, and how many failed attempts he made before he actually invented the light bulb. As he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Think about this – Mattie Christianson was born with no arms past the elbows, no legs past the knees. Yet when he was 11, he was the pitcher on his winning softball team. This wise young man said, “You have to give up all your excuses.” He simply didn’t accept failure, or limitations. If he can accomplish that, what can you do?

Nicole Thomas

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