"Dan, Do You Have Fewer Problems Since You Left Corporate America?"
A client of mine asked me this recently and it took me a few moments to consider the answer. Here's the conclusion I came to:
While the number of problems I face in my life hasn't changed much over the last two years, the way I relate to my problems is totally different than when I felt perpetually stuck and stagnant. In fact, you could say I upgraded my life when I upgraded my relationship to problems. I will explain in a moment.
First of all, let's discuss the fallacy of the original question. It implies problems are a negative thing we should try to avoid.
That's not entirely true.
While we don't want to be a person who looks for problems where they don't exist (some people use problems to meet a need for significance and connection), we must understand one of life's master lessons.
Problems are a gift which force us to grow and become more. As Tony Robbins says, "Our problems shape our soul."
In 2011, my frustration with my corporate job had become a massive problem and I didn't know how to solve it. Seeking fulfillment, I jumped to 3 different companies in 3 different parts of the country over a 4-year span. Yet, each new job felt more empty and creatively stifling than the one before it. Despite using my bigger paychecks to throw money at the problem (vacations, nice clothes, etc), nothing seemed to bring lasting happiness.
For the first 3 years, I blamed everyone else. I complained how I wasn't given enough freedom at work. I talked about not feeling respected. I said my boss at my last job wanted me to be something I wasn't.
Those things weren't untrue, but the blame game gave me nothing. My stories took away the power to create the outcomes I most desired. Ultimately, it was a convenient way to avoid a larger truth...
There was a bigger vision within me which was dying to emerge. I was being called to leave my comfort zone in order to find my purpose and bring it to life.
Everything changed when I replaced my sense of certainty of being held down by "The Man" with a sense of curiosity. Why were the same problems showing up over and over? Could the negative emotions and stress actually be a call for awareness?
The answer was yes.
In his book Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink, a former Navy Seal, would tell his subordinates “good” when they came to him with a problem. Initially they would look at him like he is crazy, but then he would explain.
When you say “good”, you are putting yourself in a positive state versus a negative one. But more than just that, you are now going to view the situation differently.
You can get creative and find a solution. You can get resourceful and find a new way.
I don't know what problems you are facing today. It could be you are also feeling disconnected from your career. Maybe you find yourself overwhelmed and putting everyone else's needs before your own. Maybe you have repeated the same cycle of toxic relationships.
I'm here to tell you life is always happening for you and not to you. The pain you are feeling is a teacher. It goes away when you learn the lesson you are meant to learn.
You might feel too deep in the weeds to see that now, which is why having a coach or mentor to help you navigate the path is the fastest way to get unstuck.
I have openings this week for complimentary, 30-minute discovery coaching calls. Let's talk about where you are feeling stuck and what it would look like if you lived life on YOUR terms. If you would like to learn how to tap into your courage and strength in the face of life's challenges, I can help! Reserve your spot today.