In many of my classes that I teach, I often speak with my students about issues they face. In every aspect of my life when people approach me for advice with their challenges, I stop them when they focus their conversation on the problem. I don’t care about their problems. That’s not to say I lack compassion, it’s just that I don’t have anything in the game. I can’t identify the issues or their importance in the same way that they can. So what I will always say is “Don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions.” This way I know they are thinking through possible solutions to their problems already, and can provide the proper guidance with that context. How we define a problem is often hidden in how we come up with solutions, and in those solutions I find the proper context needed to give sound advice. With this approach, I am forcing them to face their version of the darkness, while at the same time giving them the experience to tackle similar problems with ease in the future. If I simply give them the answer they think they are looking for, they may not arrive at the best solution possible simply because I lack the context they hold.
One of the more curious things about social dynamics that I observe is that with simple issues, most people prefer the guidance of others rather than leaning on their own experience and creativity. As with many things in life, our skill sets are a “use it or lose it” situation. If we don’t continually flex those muscles in our brain, we become more and more dependant on others as time goes on. This in turn makes you more vulnerable, but more importantly, makes you a liability to those around you. More on that in a later article. The more you focus on making opportunities out of the obstacles in your way, and new doors will be begging for you to kick them in and take control.
This isn’t to say that you should never seek out help, sometimes when all attempts are exhausted it’s time to find advice from those with more functional experience than yourself. This is why that everyone should keep a group of people close to them both less experienced and more experienced than them, so you can rise with and raise the tides. It’s just as important to continue to evolve as a person as it is to flex your problem solving creativity, and to do that you need to surround yourself with people on the same path and mission as yourself. Build your tribe, expand your capabilities.
When you take little responsibility, you rely on the world to guide you and provide for you, which can lead to misery and depression due to lack of control of your environment and appreciation from your tribe. When you no longer control your environment you become a soft target waiting to be taken advantage of. In taking responsibility for one’s fate, you are afforded the opportunity to grow and learn more about the world around you. By simply peering into the darkness, you become stronger and more versatile. You become a person of experience and wisdom. As time goes on and darkness is dragged kicking and screaming into the light, that wisdom begins to seep into other aspects of our life. In turn, people will seek out your knowledge and skills, they will look to you for advice, and ultimately seek out your leadership. Taking responsibility clears the way to opportunity, the more of one leads to more of the other. Eventually, you realize there is no clear difference between responsibility and opportunity, once you seize one the other becomes apparent.
Originally posted with the author’s permission.
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