It’s a fact of life that no matter what you’re involved in, if you stay with it for any length of time, you’re going to encounter problems. Student leaders who are surprised when problems surface during their time in leadership have an unrealistic view of things. In fact, if there were no problems there wouldn’t be any need for leaders. So from this point forward, let’s consider problems to be a part of your job security as a student leader.
Not only will you have to work at solving problems in your personal life, but must deal with the problems that occur within your team and organization. Without a proper perspective and strategy to handle problems, the progress of your group can be halted and conflict can easily escalate.
When you and your team begin to lose momentum, it can seem like every issue you handle is a problem. The excitement and energy that carried you through the beginning of the year is starting to dwindle. Small problems can all of a sudden seem much bigger.
Problems provide an opportunity for leadership. The perspective you take and the process with which you tackle the problems that come your way will help to establish or detract from your leadership.
Problems actually help you broaden your perspective as a student leader. There are always a lot of different ways one can go about solving a problem. There may be one problem, but there are numerous solutions. The important thing is to match a solution that works to best meet the team’s objectives.
One of the first things you should reflect on is how you feel about problems in the first place. How you feel about a problem has a direct impact on how you face that problem. So the first step to problem solving isn’t the problem, it’s your perspective of the problem. That’s what we need to figure out.
Everyone who has ever lived has faced a problem.
The minute you think that you’re the only one who has problems is the minute you leave reality and start living in a fantasy world. Problems are a normal part of life. To live a life that is free from problems is not normal.
The problems you face seem to be more difficult than anyone else’s.
Your problems may seem bigger to you because they’re YOUR problems. But there is always going to be someone out there with problems bigger than your own. Besides, it’s not a competition between who has the biggest problem. The real issue is if you’re able to face your problem and solve it. Sometimes, simply knowing that you don’t have to face your problems alone can provide you with the strength and courage necessary to solve them.
Your perspective of the problem is the number one determining factor toward your ability to solve it.
The words, “I can’t” are usually a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you view problems as walls too big to climb, they probably will be. But if you see problems as opportunities to grow, change, think, flex, and work together – you have conquered the most difficult part of the problem solving process. Noted Psychiatrist and Author, Theodore Rubin said, “The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.”
Too many times we execute the following strategies when faced with a problem: 1) Run from it. 2) Ignore it. 3) Complain about it.
But none of those strategies move you or your team any closer to doing the one thing leaders are required to do with a problem: Solve it.
If your perspective is right, solving problems will move you forward in life.
All of the greatest advances in our world came about as the result of someone trying to solve a problem. Advances in science, cures for disease, technological breakthroughs, and the birth of nations all have come about because someone or a group of someones faced a big problem that needed solving. Your perspective will either choke you or challenge you. Look at the following chart. Which side does your perspective lie on?
A Right Perspective
A Wrong Perspective
|Problems are solvable
Problems are temporary
Problems are a part of life
Problems make us better
Problems challenge us
Problems stretch us
|Problems are unsolvable
Problems are permanent
Problems not a part of life
Problems make us bitter
Problems control us
Problems stop us
Let me ask you: How has your perspective affected your approach to problem-solving? What is something you’ve done to approach your problems with the right perspective rather than the wrong one?
I would love for your to share your answers and comments below.