The Value of Problems
“A bird must struggle in order to emerge from the eggshell…any challenge that does not defeat us ultimately strengthens us.” – Jim Stovall
A friend of mine once told me that business is akin to jumping off a cliff and growing a pair of wings before you hit the bottom.
It always seems like the entrepreneur’s days are spent putting out fire after fire. If there’s one career that tests your limits when it comes to tackling and overcoming problems, it’s being an entrepreneur. While living from problem to problem isn’t healthy for anyone, having a greater appreciation on the value of problems is an invaluable skill in business (and life in general).
Business is all about solving problems and the reward that follows. If one finds it hard to accept that or live in such an environment then they may need to rethink getting into business. But does this all mean that we never benefit from challenges that come our way?
Problems Are Opportunities to Grow
When faced with a problem, one can either tackle it and in the process learn new things that makes them grow or they can shrink back and lose out on that silver lining. Problems, by their very nature, get us to exert ourselves in familiar and unfamiliar ways.
Each problem that you choose to tackle forms new concepts, lessons, ideas or just plain old resolve in you. Over time this accumulates into a pool of skills that enriches you as an entrepreneur and as a person. You become better equipped to handle a similar set of challenges down the road and it makes you better placed to help others out too.
Don’t Be Afraid of Making Mistakes
In business as in life you learn when you do. You can formulate a strategy as finely as you want (and you should) to minimize risk but you can never fully eliminate risk. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis (in a business blog? Huh) the only way to keep your heart from the risk of heartbreak resulting from love, is to be cold and not love at all. The underlying principle is the same as well in business.
You can decide to not make any mistakes (if that’s even humanly possible) or make mistakes, learn and grow. It’s the entrepreneur who isn’t afraid of making mistakes that learns from the challenges presented by therein and grows. Such an entrepreneur grows in depth and balance because the school of life is where he gets his degree from.
Of course this doesn’t mean that we should plunge headlong into making mistakes regularly, no. What this means is that’s once you’ve done your homework and minimized as much risk as possible, the fear of messing up doesn’t paralyze you to the point of inaction. It is those problems that a mistake brings that stretch you in beneficial ways. As always make a mistake once, learn from it and never repeat it.
Small to Big
Whenever you solve a problem, you don’t just gain new skills for the future but you simultaneously move on to the next challenge up the ladder of business and life. In solving a smaller challenge you become prepared to solve a bigger one. That’s the true beauty of life and the addictive nature of business.
When you shy away from a problem and try to find a way around it, you deprive yourself of this invaluable process. This not only limits you as an individual but it also limits the scale at which you can operate as an entrepreneur. Bigger roles/businesses call for certain problem solving skills and certain experiences only taught through tackling real world problems. In the long run inability to solve problems for the entrepreneur becomes their Achilles heel.
Next time that problem stares you in the face, think of it not just as a complication but also as an opportunity presented to you to gain new skills and experience. It’s in solving life’s problems that we become wiser and better. Here’s a short article on five steps for business problem solving to get you started.