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How to Turn Problems into Opportunities

Get easy tips on how to overcome obstacles by finding the hidden opportunities beneath your problems.

By
Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #141

Use a New Opportunity to Eliminate Old Behaviors

Your opportunity may lie not in new capabilities, but in the chance to eliminate old behaviors. If your problem is a dead car, you’re saved from having to keep the tank full, having to take it in for regular maintenance, and having to explain to your friends why going “Vrrruuum” when you start your Toyota Corolla really does make it seem like a Porsche 911 Turbo-S. To you. Only to you.

New Opportunities Give You Excuses to Make Changes 

The difference between a problem and an opportunity is what we do with it, not what it is to begin with.

Sometimes a problem gives you excuses. When your leg gets torn off in a unfortunate rice picking accident, you can no longer be expected to take out the trash. “I have no legs” is really hard to argue with. Then you can hire housecleaners and spend your time finally writing that book you always wanted to write. (Just don’t call it Get-it-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More. That’s my book, coming from St. Martin’s Press in September 2010. Order it now!) If your house burns down and you’re well insured, at last you have an excuse to build your dream home… as long as you were insured with replacement value insurance.

A friend of mine was diagnosed with AIDS. He used that as an excuse to quit his job and start doing things he loves. It’s about ten years later. He’s still in great spirits, and has spent the last ten years doing all the things in life he never previously let himself do--and finding ways to get paid for them at the same time. As bad as his problem was, it gave him the push to revolutionize his life.

New Opportunities Lead You to New People and Places

Often, problems bring you to new communities and causes. Hair loss problems? You can join a hair loss support group. You and your new friends will have lots to talk about. Just not hair.

Some people turn problems into activism. My friend Carl was frustrated with the policies his local congressman was voting for in his district. With no prior political experience, he ran for office and won. Now he’s a full-time state senator. His problem led to a whole new career!

Turn a Problem into a New Career Opportunity

If your problem is one you think others may share, you can think about solving it for everyone, and it could turn into a huge opportunity. That is how many entrepreneurs get started. Scott Cook was frustrated with the poor quality of software designed to help him balance his checkbook. He decided to start a software company to fix the problem. His company Intuit is now a multi-billion-dollar success story.

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.