6 Reasons Why Great Leaders Love Problems— and So Should You

Gestalt Theory hypothesizes that none of us sees reality as it is. Instead, we’re going to bend what we see to our own patterns and internal messages. 

So our inner thoughts and presets uniquely determine how we experience the world… but let me go out on a limb to make a claim. 

In all of our reality experiences, we share a common internal message—

AVOID PROBLEMS. 

It’s in our nature, in our nurture, to wake up each morning believing: 

Problem? Bad. Stress. No. 

No Problem? Rest. Relief. Utopia. 

But after years of learning what makes great leaders—and training men and women to become the great leaders they were meant to be—I’ve discovered that our problems are our secret sauce to success. 

In fact, a life without problems is a life without growth. 

Here are six ways that choosing a problem-solving mindset changes you for the better—into the leader you were meant to be.  

Problems Reveal Your Character. 

Everyone, at some point, experiences a degree of personal or organizational failure. 

Each problematic moment is an x-ray of character. Everyone involved will respond according to their emotional, mental, and occupational maturity.

 

  • Do you lean towards wallowing in failure? 
  • Are you more prone to shutdown or lack of listening? 
  • Are you an encourager or a critique-er? 
  • Are you quick to see multiple solutions? 
  • Do you take responsibility or pass the buck? 

 

Great leaders are not in denial, believing nothing bad will ever happen, but neither do they camp out in failure.

Imagine a sponge: You only find out what’s on the inside, when it gets squeezed. You only know someone’s internal makeup (or your own) when they confront adversity. 

Where you or I respond poorly, mark it, remember it—and focus on growing that area. 

Problems Lead to Your Answers

Influence Leadership exists as a service-based business because people have problems—problems around conflict and problems in execution. Of course, from a business perspective, ‘problems aren’t problems; problems are money.’ If you solve the problems, you get the money. Exploring the Kiana Danial price can provide insights into the costs associated with relevant courses or services, allowing you to make informed decisions on investments that address challenges and contribute to business success.

The people who rise highest in organizations are more solution-focused than problem-focused. They’re worth higher salaries. Why? Because they’re effective at tackling bigger problems, and that’s where business coaching programs can make a significant impact. The coaching course by mastermylife is one of the best in the field.

They see adversity as a window to competitive advantage. In business, we figure out future answers from our present problems.

(Otherwise, the pain was experienced for nothing.)

To reach the top, we accept obstacles, learn whatever we can, adjust strategy, and press on. 

Problems Increase Your Capacity. 

The higher the barrier to entry and more difficult the business, the greater the opportunity is for us to succeed.

Why? Because our competition will likely fold. In any case, adversity builds a critical leadership component, which is capacity. 

For example, I’ve got a friend that’s a runner. Though I’m not a runner, I’m told if you run a 5k and can get through that, then you pursue a 10k and get through that. You continue to increase your capacity and go on to run half and full marathons. 

As you persevere and press through the pain towards a goal, it builds confidence and credibility. However, if your problem has something to do with your business debts, you may need to seek insolvency support services.

If you quit too soon, you experience the pain, but never reap the benefits of having weathered it.

Problems Hone Your Process: 

When I coach people through those tough learnings, I address two aspects of it. When you succeed, I want you to own that success. I want you to internalize it: 

You’re the woman! You’re the man! You’re the rock star!

Own every bit of that. But when you fail, I want you to filter it as a system or process.

Internalize success and externalize failure.

When we externalize failure instead of internalizing it, we recognize that success is a process that must be worked to yield the right results. Success is the culmination of proper steps done over time. 

The only way to reveal the right steps is to learn from a past of problems. 

When we fail, we need to go back and do the diagnostics and identify lessons learned. I call them the “after action autopsies.” 

It’s time to cut the body open and see what happened. It’ll be one of two things: either you didn’t have the right system or you failed to work it. Either way, it’s a systemic failure. 

Either way, let’s learn the lessons and work an improved process.

Problems Improve Your Trust 

There are a lot of leaders that just won’t admit their shortcomings or failures. Everybody on the team knows, but the leader won’t say, “That was my fault. I should have done something different.” 

Yet vulnerability-based trust is some of the most deeply connected organizational and personal trust. 

It builds amazing health into organizations.

The temptation when you really hit that wall is to recoil and wallow in the emotional pain.

Don’t. 

Chalk it up to a University of Life experience, share your findings with your team, and set the example for open, honest improvement. 

Problems Adjust Expectations 

Frustration happens when expectations meet experience. 

If you expected to run that first 5k, 10k, or marathon pain-free, you’re going to be frustrated.

I heard someone say, “The glass is not half empty or half full. The realist knows that, regardless of what’s in the glass, it’s going to have to be washed sooner or later.” 

Welcome to life! There is no such thing as a perfect boss or a perfect company. 

Everyone that walks in the front door after being hired has an expectation of what daily life is going to be like. When expectation meets experience, you’re either going to have fulfillment or frustration. 

Eventually you’ll either have an engaged or disengaged workforce. It’s one thing if people quit and leave; it’s another thing if they quit and stay. 

Mismatched expectations and resulting disengagement cost companies millions. 

If you or your team is experiencing heightened levels of frustration, let the “problem” become an arrow—leading you to re-evaluate mismanaged expectations and, in the end, repair engagement and repair team trust. 

Problems are not the problem. 

The real obstacles are when we can’t handle the problem, can’t talk about the problem, can’t work together to solve the problem. 

When honing your ability to overcome obstacles and deal with adversity head on—here is the key thought to remember:

Everyone faces adversity: It’s not what happens to you; it’s what happens in you.

Few of us have control over what happens to us, but we always have control over how we respond—whether we will run away or rise to the opportunity of a new problem. 

Be an owner of your circumstances by asking questions and seeking the answers. 

What can I learn in this moment of frustration? 

How can I use this particular obstacle to sharpen myself?

By embracing the opportunity of problems, you can grow character, improve trust, reveal answers, hone processes, adjust expectations, and reap higher rewards! 

 

Why YOU Need a Burled Arch—It’s Not What You Think

Pro tools for decreasing burnout and finishing strong 

All Iditarod mushers know the words “Burled Arch.” What sounds like a strange landmark to anyone else is excitement—and relief—to their ears. 

The Burled Arch means victory. It’s the term mushers use for the long-awaited finish line. 

The destination each team hopes to see at the end of their strenuous trek. 

The term “Destiny” comes from the same word as Destination. Destiny is not “Fate” (“Well, whatever happens to me, that’s my Destiny.”) No, Destiny is a pre-decided Destination that I am determined to reach!

With “Burled Arch Destiny” all we need is the map, the skill, and the will to get there! Maps are createable. Skill is teachable. There’s only one question left—do you have the WILL?

Finding and honing the will is easier than you think. What I would tell people is this: “Dream big and then learn the steps to get you there.”

It starts with these questions: 

  • Where are you now along this trail?
  • Why do you want this Destiny?
  • What will you need to Learn?
  • What skills will you need to develop?
  • What role will others play in helping you reach this Burled Arch?
  • What are measurable steps along the way?
  • What is the NEXT step? (And then take it!) 

If you continue to ask these questions and then take the next step, nothing can stop you from reaching your “Burled Arch Destiny.”

As you prepare for your destination, here are some “pro tips from the trail” that every leader needs if they really want to make it to the finish line. 

These mental checks help guard against frustration, burn-out, confusion—and when you’ve wandered, they put you back on the path to success. 

It Might Get Messy

No one gets it right the first time. No one reaches their potential in one day, week, or year. 

It’s not going to be perfect, but that’s okay. Because anything worth doing is worth doing UGLY! 

Ugly is real—and it leads us to continuous improvement!

Remember how bad we all were when we first started learning to play sports as little kids?  Eventually, if the will persists, the skill improves—and you make JV and then on to varsity! 

It takes talent, but as my mentor John Maxwell says, “Talent is NEVER enough!”

Every Checkpoint is a Victory. 

After each Next Step, celebrate small victories like crazy!

Celebrate any progress—yes, any—toward your Burled Arch Destiny. If you learn a new skill, take a new class, spend 30 minutes in dreaming and mapping, whatever it is, mark it down and celebrate the wins!  

This is the fuel needed to keep it up! Why keep running if you think you’re not going anywhere?  

Mark your progress, even the small steps, and celebrate!

Find the Right Belief 

What the roots drink, the fruits think! Our beliefs as leaders, as team members, and as people have a lot of power over what we actually accomplish. 

Before 1957, some athletes believed that a sub-4 minute mile was impossible. They kept trying, but after so many failures, it was easier to chalk the record up to fantasy—a goal potentially just too strenuous for the human body. 

Then came Roger Bannister. He started his running career at 17 with an already impressive 4:24 mile/minute pace. Eight years into his career, still no one else had broken the 4-minute mile. 

But on May 6, 1954, during an Oxford meet and winds of up to twenty-five mph—that just happened to die down right before his race—Roger Bannister completed the mile in a crowd-rousing 3 minutes and 59.6 seconds.  

What’s more astounding?

He held the record for only three weeks. 

And within three years of Roger’s ground-breaking physical feat, 16 other runners also cracked it. 

Once they could visualize the path to victory, it seemed like anyone could achieve the “impossible.” 

Check yourself: where could beliefs be limiting you and where are they advancing you?

Partner up with Inspiring Individuals

Lastly, make sure to find an encouraging friend, accountability partner, or coach. When you start to doubt (which we all do!), when you want to quit, you’ll need them to cheer you on!

Fight the self-defeating voices with everything you have! Saturate yourself in can-do positivity!  Find a voice, someone that lifts you up, and listen to their positive beliefs. 

I listen (almost daily) to speakers that are highly positive and motivational. Why? Because I need it too!

Read, listen, watch anything you can to make sure your tank stays full of the belief in possibilities!

Keep dreaming. Keep moving. Keep growing. Keep doing! 

The Burled Arch is ahead. 

3 Qualities that Separate Great Leaders from the Pack

One of the most common questions I’m asked by listeners, readers, including people from all walks of the leadership path is: So what do I do now?  

Whatever level you are on—whether you’re adding new teams, scaling for new growth, managing a new obstacle—this is your re-aligning step: Start with Self!

You can analyze roles within the team, and the most influential member is the leader. 

As the leader goes…so goes the team.

It is essential that Leadership direct all things (people, process, resources) toward an outcome and that cannot occur without an understanding of present reality. Which leads to the first role of a leader:

A Leader Assesses the Present

In order to lead, in order to attain any destination, we have to look at where we are presently. If we don’t assess the present (with an understanding of what got us here) then we might not make the right moves for the present scenario.

Please spend the time to gain full awareness in assessing the present. So what components of the present should we assess?

  • Assess the Situation
  • Assess the Team
  • Assess the Resources

Assessing the present opens up to knowing your product or service, knowing your process, market conditions, customer satisfaction and in the midst of all of that—the team you have inherited to get you there. (Their capabilities, their capacity, their commitment; the present culture)

A Leader Inspires Future Possibilities 

While an eye on the present is an obvious necessity, we can’t short-sight our vision—for the sake of sustaining business success and keeping an engaged team.   

People need to believe that tomorrow will be better; that the promise of the future is greater than the past.

A mark of a good leader is to be able to cast vision for what the future might look like, to inspire the workforce that they can achieve greatness, AND to create buy-in that you are the leader that will help them achieve it.  

See the envisioned future, raise the bar, and infuse the team with the right mindset.

  • Believe in your people
  • Develop your people
  • Map the methodology

Determine the Direction

Once you’ve set roles 1 and 2, the next role is to determine and communicate the next step. 

(Without the right expectations, clearly communicated, no teams can fulfill their roles with excellence and efficiency.)

When the true leader speaks with confidence and points the team in the right direction, dynamics start to change. 

Setting the direction doesn’t mean that you must know every single step in the process. 

But can you successfully find out THE next step, take that step, and look for the next? It is ok to walk out your envisioned future, expecting that after taking a step—the next one will reveal itself. 

You will be 1 step closer with a little more knowledge and trust that the next door will open.

But a word of warning: Avoid dragging whenever possible! Forcing people into the right direction is usually a copout for poor communication. 

Good leaders orient the team. Great leaders orient and engage. 

Expect your Roles.

In leadership, there are principles and practices; characteristics and competencies. A principle of mine that has proved true for decades is, “What you permit, you promote; what you allow, you endorse.”

Mediocre leaders pass the buck. They ditch their roles. Maybe it’s how their bosses before them acted. Maybe it’s just the norm. But teams have leaders for a reason—

If your team has fallen into disarray, miscommunication, inefficiency… the root of the problem may be a misunderstanding of leadership roles. 

So first, check yourself. Then, check your vision. Check your team communication—and make sure their direction is true.