I’ve had several coaching clients with the same problem – they were looking for problems in all the wrong places. And by “all the wrong places” I mean EVERYWHERE. These clients had become experts at finding problems in every area of their lives.
For one client it was most predominant in “her industry.” She wasn’t able to change anything about the way her business ran because “that’s not how it’s done in my industry.” She would complain about all of her problems, and then blame each of them on the industry.
For another client, she projected her problems into the future. She received a promotion but no one was expecting her to do well. Her daughter wasn’t in school yet but she expected her to have issues. There was something going to be wrong with her marriage. Each time she looked into her crystal ball she saw the problems of the future.
And for another client, he would see all of his negative characteristics in other people. He hated his supervisor’s behavior and then would say, “I act like that too.” He would tell stories about how is boss ridiculed someone during a meeting and say, “I’ve done that in my past. I’m no better.” It sounds like he’s just being honest with himself, right? WRONG! He never saw anything in his boss that was good (or anyone else for that matter) so was never able to similarly compare his strengths – he only compared his weaknesses.
The problem with problems is the focus. As I talked about in the post on Disciplined Optimism, you certainly need to be aware of challenges. And at the same time, you need to focus on the good stuff. Where isn’t your problem?
For my client and her problems about her industry – where could she create her business that was different than her industry? What was her positive focus despite the industry’s issues?
For my client with the crystal ball? Where were the opportunities in the future? Where were the opportunities now? How could now be really great and challenge-free?
And for my client who compared himself to others? What were his strengths? What was he really good at? What did he see in others that reminded him of these valuable resources he already possessed?
Where isn’t your problem?