Not all easy days…

“Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make strong.”

Norman Vincent Peale

There is something exciting about having a good problem to solve. The uncertainty and unknown can be unsettling of course but I have found that to be far outweighed by the joy of a good challenge. It is through tackling tough problems that we learn and grow. I don’t want to have an easy life with no problems to solve. That would be boring and unfulfilling. Sure, at times it would be great if things were smooth and easy, but not all the time. I don’t want all easy days, for easy days don’t inspire growth. How about you?

No worries…

“Problems are meant to be solved, but unfortunately, a lot of people choose to complain, worry, and cry about them.”

Edmond Mbiaka

It amazes me how much energy is spent by people worrying and complaining about problems. I have often wondered if all that energy were instead focused on overcoming challenges and fixing things what the world would be like.

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t worry, in fact I am guilty of spending too much energy worrying and thinking about things that are not within my control. But therein lies the key to overcoming problems. Find out what is within your control and focus your energy on that, instead of complaining, worrying and crying. Whenever I get sideways and start worrying about some problem or challenge, that is how I reset my head.

What energy are you spending today complaining, worrying or crying? Where can you spend that energy instead?

Under pressure…

“I love leaving the door open to good ideas. I love the collaborative swirl. I get charged by problem-solving, usually under some kind of stress – the sun is going down, and we have eight minutes, and we have to solve it. Great things come out of it.”

Ron Howard

I will fully admit that I like pressure. I enjoy, and feel I do my best personal work, when I am under pressure to perform. There is just nothing like a crisis or a time crunch to really drive creative problem solving. My challenge, and the leadership challenge, is to ensure that the need for the time pressure problem-solving isn’t created because we simply waited until the last minute to start…

Solve the problem…

“Don’t bother people for help without first trying to solve the problem yourself.”

Colin Powell

I am sure that we all know the type of person that seems to have nothing but problems and somehow always wants to bring them to someone else to be solved. It can be exhausting to work with or be around people that are like this. They are only focused on the problem and how it is someone else’s fault or responsibility and never on the solution and how they can take ownership.

What a refreshing difference it is with someone who owns it and finds a way to solve it themselves. Giving feedback is so much easier and more valuable when working with a person that is doing their very best to solve something. They have invested the time, effort and energy into the solution instead of shifting the responsibility to someone else.

What is the difference between these two types of people? The person on one end of the spectrum wants to make sure they have an out if things don’t go well or the solution wasn’t the right one. “It’s not my fault, they told me how to do it.” At the other end the person wants to own the solution and focuses their efforts on getting things done. “It might not be perfect but I am going to own finding the solution to this problem.”

Which end of this spectrum do you live on?


It’s not personal!

“A great leader doesn’t avoid conflict and a great leader doesn’t doesn’t leave a body of emotionally destroyed people behind. A great leader solves problems.”

Andy Stanley

The great leaders I have worked with always made it about the problem to be solved, not the person.  They are exceptional at addressing both poor results and poor behaviors swiftly and directly.  They didn’t leave a wake of destruction in their path because they didn’t make it personal.  They focused on the desired outcome and addressing whatever is that happens to be taking a person off course.  

Does it take courage to do this?  Yes, of course it does.  Not many people thrive on and enjoy high conflict situations.  It takes an ability to keep the focus on the business at hand and not let the fear of conflict dissuade you from having the direct conversations that are needed.  

I’ve work with leaders who were anything but exceptional at this as well.  They either would ignore the situation entirely, talk about it behind another persons back and undermine their credibility, or they would be like a volcano and erupt.  All of these behaviors (and many more) are the types of things that emotionally destroy people and undermine the influence of leadership.

The key for success here is to ensure that when dealing with situations where conflict is needed be swift, seek to understand, and live by the principle ‘It’s not personal!’

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