During the bleakest time of my life, my neighbor John stopped by to see how I was doing. Relieved that someone cared about me (I told you this was bleak), I rattled off a lengthy list of my latest woes. When I finished, John put his arm around my shoulder, smiled at me and said, “Barbara, you’ve got the wrong set of problems.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
He thought for a moment and said, “Well, you should be worrying about where to find a good mechanic for your Mercedes Benz.”
As dismal as I felt, John reminded me that this was a temporary condition. This conversation also awakened me to the fact that not having problems isn’t an option. No matter what level of success we achieve, to be alive means that we’ll have problems to solve. Thank goodness.
Paul Hawken says there’s an easy way to determine if a business is good or bad. “A good business has interesting problems,” he says, “while a bad business has boring ones.”
The problem with problems, then, isn’t that we have them, but that we hold onto such petty ones. When we fail to solve our little problems, our everyday living problems, we forfeit any possibility of getting more interesting ones to solve. If you want to have intriguing problems to solve, you’ve got to first solve the ones you’ve got. Then you get to trade up for the interesting ones.
$100 Hour. Ask yourself, “Who’s got a problem I know how to solve?” Often when we have mastered something–whether it’s installing a toilet or salsa dancing–we forget that not everyone that would like to do what we’ve done has learned how. Solving problems is the basis for many profitable businesses.
Explore More: Clare Bean and Morgan Siler are single mothers who decided to solve a problem they had themselves…the isolation of raising kids on their own. They started i Heart Single Parents to bring single parents together in a community where they could connect. They’ve also just launched Single Parent magazine to share more ideas and information with single parents everywhere.
Wise people put their trust in ideas and not in circumstances. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
As you know, this is one of my favorite Barbara stories and one that I share with others often. I also try to bear it in mind when I find myself whining in my head. (At my age, I know better than to whine out loud…usually!)
Thanks for sharing this one! Here’s to interesting problems for all in 2009!
Thank you Barbara! You are so inspirational! I want to go out and conquer after I read your writing.