A problem, or something more?

Last Friday, I was fulfilling my normal Friday routine of listening to Dan Miller’s Online Radio Show.  During the show, he gave what I consider one of the greatest quotes of an optimist.  “A problem is an opportunity to create a solution.”

These boys teach and give me opportunities to teach lessons everyday.

These boys teach and give me opportunities to teach lessons everyday.

Today, a “problem” occurred that gave me an opportunity to provide a foundational teaching moment for Ryan.  During our morning snack time, Sawyer had grabbed the snack cup from Ryan and dumped the delicious contents all over the floor.  Ryan began crying because he felt “Sawyer ruined our snack.”

Rather than lecturing Sawyer or trying to pacify Ryan, memory of this podcast clicked in my brain.  I calmed down Ryan by telling him I had an important lesson to teach him.  He said, “Ok, Daddy”.

“Ryan, a problem is an opportunity for a solution.  What’s the problem?”

“Sawyer spilled the snack on the floor Daddy.”

“Who in the house is really good about eating food off the floor?”

“Sawyer is Daddy.”

“Probably, but we want him to break that habit.  Who else in the house is really good about eating food off the floor?  We see them do it all the time.”

“Woody and Lucy are Daddy. (our black labs)”

“Ryan, that’s right.  Go call them in to eat the food off the floor.”

“Woody and Lucy, come eat our mess!”

“Ryan, what is the solution to replace your snack?”

‘Put more in the bowl Daddy.”

“That’s right Ryan.  You solved the problem!  A problem is an opportunity for a solution.”

We all know people who seem to rise to the challenge and take the chance to solve it.  They don’t always succeed, and they are often criticized when they “fail”.  If the critics really analyzed their feelings honestly, most of them try to avoid the moment and defer to others.

The folks that often do succeed in coming up with solutions often become the leaders of the organization.  Problems are a fact of life, you need people to step up and try to solve it!

I believe one of my greatest values to my organization is that I do often deliver solutions.  Becoming a “go-to” person increases your value and creates new opportunities for solutions.  I don’t believe I always looking to deliver the solution, but as my self-confidence increased in adulthood, I have become more comfortable with the fear of failure with the chance to let the team succeed.  I am willing to make the tough decision when others defer.  During softball games, I want the ball hit to me, or I want to be up with two outs and the winning runs are on base.  I want to take the last shot playing pickup or intramural basketball, not because I am the best player, but I like the pressure.  Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed.  I would rather take action than do nothing.  I want my boys to look to solve issues.  This will keep their attitudes positive, increase their self-reliance and resourcefulness, and avoid complaining.

I would love to hear your stories “about taking the last shot”, regardless of whether you won or lost.   Celebrate the problem solvers!  Have a happy Monday!

-Ron

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