Whether we like to admit it or not, our biggest problems are really not what we think they are. Although most of us have difficulties or what we often view as problems at various times in our lives we don’t spend very much time thinking about why they occurred, or what if anything we might have done to stem its flow before it started.
1) Someone or something else and we have now control whatsoever.
2) We created pretty much the entire problem.
3) Someone or something happened, but the problem was created by our reaction or lack there of.
4) It’s not really a problem at all, but we’re reacting like it is (they are opportunities).
More than half of what we perceive as problems are rooted in what we perceive to be our own limitations (ourselves), and they could have been avoided by us. By either thinking and planning out what we could or would do, or by changing our attitude and how we react. Rarely are problems really problems. More than half of what we perceive as problems are actually just misinterpreted opportunities.
In order to stop this from happening we have to change ourselves. Before we can change anything we need to change our way of thinking, change the way our brain responds. The most basic human cognitive function is to ask questions. If we think about something, try to reason it out we are questioning ourselves. We already do this all the time. Is the light turning red or green, should I turn left or right, what did they say?
Start to pay attention to the questions that your brain is asking yourself on a daily basis, as you go through your day. This is the self-talk, the self-questioning that is happening all the time. Once we become aware of the questions we are asking ourselves, we can begin to take control of those questions and actually ask questions that mean something. As we get better doing this we will begin asking great questions and we’ll begin to get great answers, if we’re don’t we won’t.
Once we are aware of the automatic questions we are asking ourselves, we can start to ask two questions that we’ve all heard, but paid very little attention to. They are:
Just by asking ourselves these questions, we will begin to open up the possibilities they bring with them.
What if I Could? What would that look like?
I know I can’t, but what if I could? What would it look like?
We can start out asking these in a general way. When a potential problem or opportunity presents itself to you, even if it seems impossible, keep asking. Try it now, think about something that you have already perceived as a problem. What if I could _____________ (and fill in the blank). Just say it to yourself. What if I could _____________ (and fill in the blank). Well, What If I Could Do That? What would it look like? I know I can’t, but what if I could?
By asking these questions of yourself, It doesn’t mean your going to do it. But counter intuitively this is the actual power behind the questions, your’e not putting anything on the line, there is zero commitment on your part right now. Anything is possible, but as soon as you ask the question your brain makes a fundamental change. Instead of thinking of reasons to stop you from doing it, it starts thinking of reasons and ways that you can do it. This is an extremely important point.
We all have a challenge or three to deal with. Don’t shy away from them. Meet them head on with: What if I could? When you ask yourself this you start tying to come up with a creative way to get by the challenging moment. What you come up with will be a unique product of your experience, and your experience only. No one else could come up with the same solution. The more you ask yourself those questions, the greater the chances are that the answer(s) to the opportunity will be something truly fantastic.
Read the previous chapter, Access Your Potential
Read the next chapter, “What If?” and we’ll talk more about opportunities around and inside of us.