This is a question that is asked in almost every religion and culture. It has been put to philosophers, priests, and wise men of all forms. We ask our family and friends when things are not going well “why is this happening?” The truth is, in our individual lives, there is a simple answer to why we are dealing with hard times. I love the way James Allen explains it in his wonderful book As a Man Thinketh.
“The sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify; to burn out all that is useless and impure.”
When we deal with set-backs, the set-backs are not random events that somehow happen to us on our journey to accomplish our dreams. Set-backs are lessons we are receiving in order that we may get better. The only reason you are dealing with a problem or difficulty is because you have not learned something you need to learn in order to grow.
This will be a hard concept for some people to accept. We like to think we are victims of outside forces and circumstances. We try to believe that we are the creators of all that is good in our lives and innocent in the struggles we go through. I’ll be honest with you: victims are never winners as long as they remain victims.
A major difference between successful people and the majority is the way they view problems. I love the way Brian Tracy recommends changing your wording around “problems.” He suggests that instead of using “problem” when you encounter difficulties, you substitute the word “opportunity.”
As an example, say you own a clothing store and you have noticed sales are going down sharply. After speaking with several of your customers you discover that many of them are buying clothes online because they love the convenience of shopping from home. You could say “My store is losing a lot of business because people keep shopping online. The problem is the darn online retailers!” or you could say “My store is losing a lot of business because people keep shopping online. This is a good opportunity for me to open up another stream of revenue online that will require much less overhead!”
It is just as easy to think the second thought as it is the first, yet you will have dramatically different results.
By thinking the first thought, you will more than likely send out sales flyers in an attempt to grab peoples attention and get them into your store. You may do special events, special deals for your mailing lists, or other promotional offers. This may work in the short run. Your 50% off mega sale might bring in a flood of customers for the weekend. The problem is you will more than likely lose money during the sale and afterwords the customers will go back to shopping online. Now, you again have to deal with the “problem.” You haven’t learned the lesson yet.
By thinking the second thought, you will likely begin to research how successful online retailers operate. You will look into online marketing, improve your company’s website and online catalog, and really expand your online presence. You can now send your mailing list coupons to shop online at your store. Since they enjoy shopping online anyway and are existing customers of yours, they will probably check out your website. If you have done a good job in creating the website and the customers like it, they will continue to buy from you. What’s more, through the effects of social media, you will gain hordes of new customers who have never heard of your store and who do not live in your area. Now, you have a much more profitable section of your business to enhance your existing retail location. You have learned a valuable lesson from the “opportunity.”
The next time you come across a “problem” in your business or personal life, think to yourself “What am I supposed to learn from this opportunity?” If you will begin to address all of your “problems” this way, your success is guaranteed.
So tell me, what’s an “opportunity” you’re dealing with right now? I’d love to hear your story.