How To Turn Your Obstacles Into Opportunities
You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.” - Brene Brown
Problems. Issues. Obstacles. We can all get bogged down by them, but how can we get over them? The solution may be much easier than you think.
It's All A Matter of Perspective
What makes something a problem is sometimes just down to how you frame the issue.
If I go to the National Gallery and see all those old masters (Rembrandt, Van Gogh) in their heavy, ornate gilded frames, I don't like them. The frame is butt ugly, and the aesthetic doesn't work for me. However, a frame that is modern, clean and simple changes the picture for me. I would be interested to see how some of those old masters would look!
So, the frame matters as this dictates the picture that you see. The picture that you see dictates the mindset with which you respond. If you see a positive picture, you react with a resourceful mindset. That gives you choices that feel empowering. See a negative picture? Then the choices don't seem so good.
So, if you don't like the picture you see, reframe it!
What Is A Reframe?
Simply put, choosing to interpret the facts in front of you in a way that empowers rather than disempowers you. For example:
- Hate your job? You are getting paid while you can discover what you love.
- Don't get on with your boss? You are learning how NOT to do it so that you can be a better boss.
- Not living up to your potential (yet)? You are using this time to get clear on what to focus on for the future.
By reframing the picture, you change your relationship to the issue. Concentrate on the right part of the picture, and you create a positive relationship where you can utilise all of your resources and creativity.
So, how do you reframe an issue or obstacle?
Focus On The Right Problem
Sometimes the issue is not the real issue; it is a symptom of a deeper cause.
For example, you may feel like you hate your job, can't stand your manager and there is a lack of opportunity. The problem is that you're in the the wrong organisation, right? Not necessarily....look deeper. Could it be that you're not using your superpowers and therefore are feeling unfulfilled?
So, make sure that you dig far enough to see if there is an even deeper issue that you need to frame.
What Do You Want?
Most people, when faced with obstacles, focus on what they don't want. The most powerful way through is to focus on what you do want and act accordingly.
Questions to help you uncover this are:
- What do I want in this situation?
- What do I want to do?
- Where do I want to go?
- What will move me towards that outcome?
If you still don't know what you want, write down what you don't want and flip it 180 degrees. That might not give you and exact answer, but it will put you in the ballpark.
Ask Better Questions
A huge part of how you frame or reframe something is down to the questions you are asking yourself. You can either choose to explore empowering questions that bring forth your wisdom or get stuck in negative questions that focus on the problem.
Disempowering questions are things like:
- Why is this happening to me?
- Why can't I get out of this situation?
- Why can't I move forward?
"Why" questions can be good for getting to the underlying problem. However, when you want to create momentum, "What" questions are much better as they elicit your wisdom and are action-oriented. For example:
- What am I learning about myself by facing this issue?
- What could I do about this?
- What can I do differently?
- What's the opportunity in this?
- What could be a way of looking at this issue that gives me more choices?
Tony Robbins said, "The quality of your life comes down to the quality of the questions you ask yourself on a daily basis." Time to upgrade the questions that you ask yourself.
If you find you are too into the problem, you can get creative in finding new ways to relate to it.
One way is to borrow someone else's perspective. This might be imagining what your best friend or mum would say about the issue. It might be adopting the point of view of a business hero like Richard Branson, a world champion athlete like Serena Williams or a Maverick like Russell Brand.
Or you could go Maverick and get super creative! For example, the Ferrari perspective on hating your job might be to go at a much faster pace and accelerate out of hard corners. The Star Trek perspective might be to explore new possibilities and new situations. The Gin and Tonic perspective might be to relax about the situation and leave the job at the office.
What becomes possible from these creative perspectives?
Whatever happens, to turn a problem into an opportunity, you can't just think about it. You have to do something immediately about it based on your new perspective. That is what shifts the tide.
So, what is the first step you are going to take?
It's Your Choice
Ultimately, this all starts with a choice. It is up to you to choose whether you see a problem picture or see a picture that could have a solution or opportunity in it.
You shouldn't deny your problems, but you can choose to change your relationship with them. That is the most powerful choice you can make.