Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Let's start by asking a simple question:
How would your life change if you took your biggest problem, and transformed it into your greatest opportunity?
Welcome to MindShift!
MindShift is our series of articles on the topic of cognitive transformation. Shifting your mind. Moving your body. Taking action. Taking responsibility. Taking small steps to achieve realistic goals - and sometimes, taking small steps to achieve unrealistic goals and doing it anyway.
Today's MindShift: Problems and Opportunities
What if you took your biggest problem, and transformed it into your greatest opportunity?
Problems are Roadblocks.
Problems are roadblocks - problems have the habit of taking something small and turning them into major obstacles. That tiny little fear of the unknown suddenly stops you from public speaking. That little fear of the unknown stops you going to the dentist when you really need to. That little fear of the unknown stops you asking that stranger for a coffee and their phone number. That little fear of setting yourself on fire stops you putting petrol in the lawn mower.
Some problems are real - they are actual obstacles; things that are genuinely difficult.
Other problems only seem real - they're based on fears and doubts, the unknown, the obscure, the difficult, and they require a certain level of overcoming fear and rejection and failure.
Opportunities are Step Ladders.
Opportunities are step ladders - they take you to a different place. They often take you to a better place, elevating you to a higher place, with better skills and better techniques.
If we look at each opportunity as a step ladder, we can go up a level today, up another level tomorrow, and up several levels over a period of time. Once you reach a new plateau, you can find a new step ladder. Step up!
Transforming Problems in to Opportunities.
Let's say we consider the concept of 'transformation' for a moment.
Turning a number of ingredients into a salad
Turning a number of ingredients into a lasagne
Turning milk and rice into a bowl of rice bubbles cereal
Turning your love of listening to music into actively taking piano lessons.
Some transformations are simple and require hardly any effort - you know the steps involved and you know the start and end points. Just like making a salad, you know the starting point is fresh lettuce, rocket, onion, cherry tomato, basil, mint, walnuts, apple, lemon juice, and coriander. You know the steps involved include opening packets, chopping, dicing, mixing, and putting everything in to a bowl.
Other transformations are seemingly a longer process - like earning the money to pay off your mortgage.
Now lets consider turning your biggest problem into your greatest opportunity.
First, we need to discover your biggest problem.
Write down your particular problem now.
Your problem might be:
A new business idea
A situation with a person at work
A situation with a friend
A situation with a family member
A debt or loan or monetary issue
A roadblock of some kind, or
Perhaps something that seems to be out of your control.
Take a moment and write it down - whatever it may be, write it down.
Define your Problem.
Take a moment to define your problem. I'll give you an example.
Let's say your problem is an issue within your business. We need to define the problem and define the business.
Let's say for this example that the problem is: "I have this great new idea for a product, but I need a loan to launch it".
The definitions here would be:
Write a paragraph that defines and describes the idea.
Write a short title that encapsulates the essence of the idea.
Write down the features of the new idea/product.
Write down the benefits of the new idea/product.
Write down the resources that the idea/product requires.
Define the skills within the business that help address the problem / help solve the problem:
We have the capacity to:
Define the problem
Overcome the problem
Find a solution
Record the process of finding the solution
Implement the solution
Measure the results achieved after implementing the solution.
Next, look back over what you've written down, and put a dollar sign next to anything the requires money.
Next, estimate how much money each thing might take, and write the number next to the dollar sign for that item.
Next, total up the dollar amount.
Next, ask yourself, do you really need a loan to achieve this, or could you make savings in certain areas and re-direct that money to solve the problem? Could you offer a promotion on one of your other services to generate some income which could be redirected to solve the problem? Write down 'save' or 'promote' and then write 'redirect' where applicable.
Do you really need to take out a loan or not?
Next, set a goal to spend an hour each day for the next seven days (yes, even on the weekends) to work on your plan. Use this time to create a realistic and actionable plan.
Next, implement your plan, and document the steps taken, the obstacles, the opportunities, and the unexpected side benefits.
Then.... you're done! Almost.
The Real Opportunity
You've just implemented your plan and documented your journey. The next stage is to take this knowledge and wrap it in to a guide book, create a consulting process, and sell your knowledge to others.
This could be offered as an e-book, or as a consulting service, where you get paid to coach and guide other business leaders through the same (sometimes intimidating) journey that you've just completed for yourself.
Now you've made the shift from 'struggling business owner' to 'business consultant'.
You could stay within your own area of expertise - if you're an architect, become a coach for other architects.
You could decide to apply it to any area - if you're a cafe owner, you could coach other cafe owners, restauranteurs, accountants, plumbers, and others.
In business, all problems are different - but the solutions are similar.
If you're a plumber and you need to solve a problem like getting a customer to pay a bill - that same skill is applicable to a business owner in any type of business that receives payments or deals with late payments.
Sometimes the answer is beating people over the head; sometimes it's asking nicely; sometimes it's talking and waiting and understanding that the customer is just waiting for payday and needs a little more time. They may need you again in the future, and call you the next time they need your help - if you solve it harmoniously - but they'll never call you back if you argue over it with them. Even debt collectors can achieve more by simply offering the customer a payment plan, instead of demanding an instant $3000.
Within the process above, you wrote down a lot of things. One of the things we asked you to write down were the unexpected side benefits of implementing your plan.
Did you unexpectedly:
Achieve time savings within your regular daily activities
Achieve cost savings within your regular daily activities
Find a new way to do something more efficiently
Invent a new process for obtaining an outcome
Discover that an employee has a skill that can be used within your business.
Perhaps you finally took the time to look over that Cost/Benefit Analysis that your accountant keeps giving you, the ones that put you to sleep, and you found that you're spending $300 a month on flyers that are making no sales at all. You can stop printing flyers. (Just one example of benefitting from being totally bored).
Perhaps you discovered several new ideas that you can transform into processes, and sell to others that have the same or similar problems.
Invite yourself to take action and turn your biggest problem into your greatest opportunity - then sell it to others.
Until next time,
Thank you from Xavier Zymantas.
MindShift with Xavier is the simple series of building blocks that you can play with to increase your social and business prowess, from the mind of Xavier Zymantas.
Xavier Zymantas started out as the boy genius and piano player who completed 12 years of schooling by age 15, started university at age 15, finished two IT degrees by age 19, worked as a computer programmer for 9 years, then became self employed as a technology consultant. Xavier moved into general consulting and now offers tips tricks and techniques across a range of business areas.
Xavier's mind works differently, and he often uses techniques from speech, music, travel, business, and life to generate outcomes specific to each business. While each problem may be different, shockingly the solutions are remarkably similar.
Life is not a game, but business is a money game, and we plan to help you make the most of it.