A few weeks ago I acknowledged a growing challenge with the sidewalk leading to our front door. A full 10ft section had buckled up about 6 inches because of tree roots underneath. That had ruined the gentle flow of our sidewalk and had created a dangerous lip for people to walk over.
So yes, I had a “problem.”
Or was it something else? When our children were small we never allowed them to come to us with a “problem.” Rather, it was “an opportunity for a solution.” And I’ve approached every situation in my business and life in the same way.
So with this current problem I could:
- Just live with the problem as it is. Walk around the worst part and hope no stranger trips on it
- Remove the entire sidewalk and just start over
- Tear out the 10ft “problem” section and try to match a new section with the old to try to make it look like it’s previous condition – OR
- Come up with a new solution that could make things better than ever before
As Joanne and I talked about the possibilities we began envisioning a beautiful little bridge that would add artistic beauty, allow continuing expansion for the tree roots and remove the challenge of trying to match the existing sidewalk.
This week I talked with a gentleman who is one of the founders of a very successful business started 23 years ago. Recently the board brought in a 37 yr-old CEO. This new leader is making changes that are extremely uncomfortable for the gentleman I was talking to. The tension is rising and he senses that his exit would be welcomed.
That conversation reminded my of my sidewalk challenge. My first step was to recognize that I did have options. I was not forced to just deal with an increasingly ugly and potentially dangerous sidewalk. Simply knowing we have options can relieve the feeling of being trapped or taken advantage of. Tearing out the old section of the sidewalk was not easy or pleasant. I used a sledgehammer to reduce the offending section to pieces small enough I could load them into my tractor bucket and haul them away, to be buried in a hidden part of our property. It was backbreaking work and produced blisters in the process. But then I had a clean slate where I could start to see a new solution.
I think any “problem” you have could be put in the 4-part framework I outlined above. And yes, here’s the finished project – and you can see which option we chose.
I’d love to hear your examples of how you are finding an “opportunity for a solution.”