If we didn’t have problems we wouldn’t be people. People have problems. No-one is immune: Even Life Coaches have problems! The genius Dr. Maxwell Maltz commented that our lives are a combination of victories and defeats, hopes and disappointments, peaks and valleys, ups and downs. In the final analysis, the business of living requires us to rise in the face of defeat. This is the point of life. Our greatest lessons will invariably come from our losses in life versus from our successes.
A problem incubates as an inkling (something’s not right with this table tonight), then it develops into a nagging message (that rattle could be a screw loose somewhere), then it grows into a problem (this is becoming one unstable table), and then the unthinkable happens: that inkling which was confirmed by a message and turned into a problem… is now a crisis (I don’t believe it – the dining room table’s just collapsed!).
Let’s break this one down: A stitch in time saves nine. If you aren’t familiar with this phrase, it is an old English saying that employs people to deal with problems upfront not allowing them to compound and fester only getting worse. I can hear my mother urging me to do the job correctly the first time. I’m still not sure how she was able to know which part of the task I was “slacking” on from the other end of the house, but she always seemed to know.
The other part of this lesson was obvious yet very subtle and indirect: take pride in the work that you produce, never cut corners, always strive for doing the best you can possibly do. She would say, “If you have done your very best and only you will ever know that, then I will always be proud of you and your effort will likely be good enough.”
Problems reveal themselves in a plethora of ways and you can save yourself energy and even time by responding to problems when they are no more than inklings. When you get the hint, address it head-on. If the table’s askew, look underneath. If your car’s been spluttering, lift the hood. If you have a feeling that things aren’t right with your spouse or one of your children, lift the lid and talk: conversation clears problems.
A problem shared, is a problem halved but a problem solved quickly, may be a crisis averted. Screw the nut. And relax.