Can you see the opportunity inside that problem?

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. “

– President John F. Kennedy Space Challenge



When President Kennedy gave that speech in 1962, he made a clear choice to look forward and to view the Space Race as a challenge and an opportunity – and it set the tone for the US Space Program and innovation in the US for the next 10 to 20 years.

The ability to choose to see the challenge and the opportunity rather than the problem is key to a business owner’s long term potential for success.

2 sides of the same coin



I had a great meeting this morning with a guy that had lost his job just 2 weeks ago.

Instead of stressing about it and seeing all of the potential problems he might have, he was looking at the whole thing as a great challenge and an opportunity.  In his view, this was just the push he needed to finally go ahead and start the business that he had been tinkering with behind the scenes.

As of this morning, he has 5 prospective clients on the horizon that if they land will end up paying more than his salary was paying before…and if they don’t all land, he’s got some great ideas on how to line up the next opportunities!  That’s the kind of guy I want to hang out with!

Things look very promising – but can you imagine that type of response/ outcome happening if he had chosen to react negatively to getting laid off?  If he had opted to view things as a problem rather than a challenge?

Great point, but how do I actually make that happen?

It can be very difficult for most people (those who aren’t insanely optimistic all the time) to consistently look at the opportunity rather than the problem.  Here are a few ideas that might help you look at the brighter side of life…

1.  Try to take the time to CHOOSE your response

I’ve noticed with my kids (actually I’ve noticed it with other people as well, but it’s easier to point out with kids) that they fall into a very clear pattern of:

Stimulus ——>  Response

If something happens, they are going to respond right away with whatever emotion or reaction comes to the surface first.  As kids, they probably don’t have the ability to change that until they get more control.

However, as adults, we have the ability to change the pattern to look more like this:

Stimulus —–>  Choice  ——->  Response

When something happens, consciously take a deep breath and choose how you want to respond to that situation.  Are you choosing to look at it as an opportunity?  What positive things could come out of this?  Or are you choosing to look at it as an issue…I’ll never be able to move forward now!

Choose a positive response.

2.  Surround yourself with positive people

I wrote about the importance of hanging out with the right crowd a couple of months ago.  It’s amazing the amount of energy I get when I’m around certain people and what a drain it can be to spend time with other people.

Keep it simple, if you have people that are a drain in your life – get rid of them (not literally, just stop hanging out with them).  If you find people that spark your creativity and give you energy, find a reason to spend time with them. 

Collaborate with them – over at Copyblogger they’ve recently written a few posts about the importance of partnering and collaboration – and they’ve got a new product to teach people how to do that.

Finally – and you knew I was going to say this:  Join a peer group advisory board / mastermind group.  Every business owner (or the equivalent) should be in a group where they can get candid feedback, encouragement and the occasional kick in the butt.

3.  Always be learning

The world is a fascinating place and there are amazing things going on all the time.  The internet is a great example – you could read 50 blogs a day and not even make a dint in all of the great stuff you could learn…for free!

Just because you can’t learn it all, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t constantly be trying to learn more. 

Find things that really interest you.

Find things that could really help you out in the short term.

The more you learn and the more you know, the more likely you are to be able to see positive outcomes from challenging situations.



Which one do you see most of the time?  Share your thoughts here, I’d love to hear them.


Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

2 thoughts on “Can you see the opportunity inside that problem?”

  1. Hi Shawn – This is such a great summary of why it’s important not to wallow in the doom and gloom promoted by the media. Yeah, times are tough, so what? If you don’t get up and get moving, a month from now you will still be right where you are with nothing to show for it. Not a good strategy at any time. There is a wealth of opportunity in this economic climate for people willing to take advantage of it while others wring their hands. Carpe diem! Thanks for adding to the encouragement!

  2. Betsy,

    Thanks for the comment – your point about sitting on the sidelines and waiting for something to happen is right on. Momentum is about taking action, learning from it and taking more action. The worst thing you can do is nothing…!


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