Why You Should Welcome Problems

Several years ago, I was having a really rough day at the office. It seemed everything that could go wrong was going wrong—at the worst possible time.

A Carton of Spilled Milk - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/kickstand, Image #157024

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/kickstand

One of my biggest authors was threatening to leave. I had a major position I couldn’t seem to fill, despite numerous interviews. And, several of our customers were upset over what I had thought was a minor policy change.

When will it ever end, I thought.

About that time, Mark Schoenwald, now the CEO of Thomas Nelson, but then our Chief Sales Officer, sent me a wonderful quote from Max Lucado’s book, Great Day Every Day.

Citing management consultant Robert Updegraff, Max wrote:

You ought to be glad for the troubles on your job because they provide about half your income. If it were not for the things that go wrong, the difficult people with whom you deal, and the problems of your working day, someone could be found to handle your job for half of what you are being paid.

So start looking for more troubles. Learn to handle them cheerfully and with good judgment, as opportunities rather than irritations, and you will find yourself getting ahead at a surprising rate. For there are plenty of big jobs waiting for people who are not afraid of troubles.

Mark had no idea what kind of day I was having when he sent this, but his e-mail could not have been more timely.

I was guilty of the faulty logic that says,

If I’m in the right job, I won’t have any problems.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as I look back over my career, it is clear that growth and promotions were always dependent on solving problems.

Big problems brought big opportunities.

In fact, If you ever find yourself in a job without problems, you should immediately start looking for another one.

Without problems, there aren’t opportunities. And without opportunities. you can’t grow, be given more responsibility, or make more money.

Question: What problem are you facing today that could be an opportunity in disguise? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.williamsjim.com/ Jimfwilliams

    I have had a few days like this lately. I appreciate the reminder. Problems can bring the greatest opportunities for growth, if handled well. 
    Thanks Michael.

  • Kate

    Wow, thanks Michael – your timing was excellent, just as your friend’s was, as you related in that anecdote. I’d just sat down to do some work (I’ m a freelance editor) after a surprisingly stressful visit from an insurance assessor, who was quoting on our bathroom when I saw your email. I was thinking, phew, why did that happen? What is going on? And I realise I have been guilty of doing the sort of thinking you describe, expecting everything to go well if I’m managing them well (and consequently blaming myself if they don’t go well) when I saw your email in my Inbox. This is the second time this week I’ve come across this idea that difficulties are opportunities (and hence blessings) – thank you – the message is getting through! All the best, Kate

  • http://www.pauljolicoeur.com/ Paul Jolicoeur

    Putting a bad day or a tough time into perspective. Good judgement will make you a valuable member of any team!

  • http://www.changevolunteers.org/ Change Volunteer

    Good post Michael. There is so much to explore on problems and opportunities.

  • http://www.authorpeterdehaan.com/ Peter DeHaan

    My biggest problem was not enough time to do the things I thought needed to be done. I guess the opportunity in that is I have a chance to prioritize my workload and  cut some things out.

    (But I’ll do that tomorrow when I have more time.)

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  • prophetsandpopstars

    Right post, right day!
    Timely and inspiring as ever.
    Thanks.

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    My problems currently (and perpetually, it seems) involve time constraints and my own insecurities.  Working through both will leave me a competent, confident woman, able to step out in faith wherever the Lord leads. Looking at it as opportunity–love this encouragement. Thanks, Michael.

  • Helen SH Lee

    This article is my wake up all for today! I’m now taking four challenging yet urgent tasks. I have been upset for the whole day, probably because of my stress, until I read this passage after work. Solving problems for my boss is in fact a demonstration of my value to my work. ;)

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  • Sunnydeesez

    its been a tough year , ive just been offered a couple of good gigs but my bass player has not moved here so , i now have to get another its sometimes hard work gettting people together as i am disabled too, I am glad  you put this post because if it was easy lots of people would be doing it and i wouldnt have a chance. So thankyou for the advise im ognna overcome this obstacle x x 

  • Htowner

    From the little preacher in skinny jeans…
    http://vimeo.com/47653862

  • http://twitter.com/conservagirl Susan

    PERFECT.  Needed to hear this today :)

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  • http://www.jeffhoots.net/ Jeff Hoots

    For those of us who are husbands and dads, our biggest jobs are leading and loving our families.  Of course, that’s where the biggest problems can be.  Our wives need our love and support.  Our kids need our example and wisdom.

    Through that, we fight illnesses, the influence of the culture, and our own sin nature.  If ever there was an opportunity to turn problems into opportunities, there it is!

  • http://twitter.com/toddlollar Todd Lollar

    Thank you for reminding us that “problems” are really “growth opportunities”…Great reference to Max’s quote!

  • Mary Elaine

    Your comments remind me of a similar (and fundamental) concept I’ve learned from one of my mentors: Health/well-being is not the absence of problems; rather, it’s the ability to have NEW problems.

  • Chol Caldito

    Thanks for this Michael! I needed to hear this. The quote was very timely. :)
    Keep on sharing ! You are channeling God’s blessing through this. :)

  • matthewdbenson

    It’s been a central philosophy of mine: “If it was easy, then the role probably wouldn’t even be needed! Enjoy the challenge.”

  • Furnsecret

    The challenge facing me right now is whether or not to continue to try and build my Financial Advisory business or to move on to a speaking and writing career.

    Being a financial advisor has had its rewards and its costs. I’m 4 years into it and still can’t seem to make enough income to support myself. One of the biggest challenges is that this industry is really more about”selling” than “advising”.

    I enjoy the educational aspect of this career but I do not enjoy selling. I am really stuck as to what to do next.

    I love to read inspirational books and have written several “inspirational and educational letters” to my sons. I take great pleasure in quoting from the many authors I’ve read and sharing their insights with my sons. I am a current member of Toastmasters and I find that most of my speeches are really just “stories” from my experiences. I love storytelling! Especially when they contain a message that can help someone live a better life or solve a current problem.

    I would appreciate any insight or advice.

  • FrankNJohnson

    Well, that was timely after my immensely difficult day at work yesterday – a day filled with problems caused by others that I had to solve. I would have preferred to wallow in my frustration, but thanks to your insightful comments, I don’t have that luxury any longer. Thanks a lot! :)

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  • David Sollars

    Michael, great reminder that we are paid for being able to jump into situations and deal effectively with issues. I often refer to these problems or challenges as forest fires and our role as fire jumpers that parachute into the middle of them.

    Currently, my greatest fire is in the area of board development within a non-profit that I chair. We have evolved into a larger and more influencial organization with a need to develop the leaders for the next phase of our mission. It’s actually a great chalenge to have!

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