The motivational speaker Les Brown is brilliant at using stories and quotes from legendary thinkers to make important points. During a recent listen of his compilation audiobook, I fell in love with this gem:
“Some people find problems in every opportunity,” he began. “But other people find opportunities in every problem.” It’s a kick-ass way to live life, and I’ve become more conscious of adopting that mindset.
It’s important that we find opportunities in our problems because it gives the problem a “good reason” to have come into our damn lives stirring up trouble. The opportunity we find in it is “compensation for our pain.”
Here are a few examples from my life the past year of that philosophy in action that might help you.
The problem: I was fired from my job and COVID-19 shut down the country.
The opportunity: I used the extra time and lack of job hiring to build several important habits that remain in effect nearly a year later.
The problem: My daughter’s mom didn’t want me visiting our adolescent child at the house anymore which is now shared with her new husband.
The opportunity: My daughter and I have done a wider variety of things together that gave us shared experiences we wouldn’t otherwise have.
The problem: I hated how physically uncomfortable I was because of my excessive weight during my cousin’s engagement party.
The opportunity: I used the inner embarrassment and my upcoming participation in his wedding to establish a daily exercise habit. So far, I’ve kept it going for 22 weeks.
The problem: I ordered a gift online for a friend for Valentine’s Day. The item was supposed to arrive two days before the big day, but an error with the shipping changed the date to the day after Valentine’s Day.
The opportunity: Once I recovered from my frustration, I informed my friend that I was giving her a three-day Valentine’s celebration. She’d be getting a gift the day before, the day of, and the day after. There wasn’t any extra effort or cost for me; I simply gave her one of her gifts a day early. Once the final gift arrived the day after, things ended perfectly.
I know it can be easier said than done to create opportunities out of problems. But it gets surprisingly easy the more we shift our thinking and combine it with intentional practice.