Trading Up Problems
“Your biggest problem is you think you shouldn’t have them.” -Tony Robbins
Personal development coach and author Tony Robbins takes this unconventional philosophy about problems one step further. Instead of working to get rid of our problems, he teaches, we should strive to “trade up” for a better set of problems.
To illustrate this, we can first look at an example involving various cultures of the world.
Take America, for example. What are some of the problems our country is most concerned with today? Affordable healthcare. Race relations. Climate change. Gender equality. The list goes on.
They’re serious problems, no doubt about it. But they’re also complex problems. As some political philosophers would reason, the advanced level of our problems also indicates an advanced society—one that has room to be concerned about “quality of life” over pure survival, like having enough food to avoid mass starvation.
In other words, in the grand scheme of cultures over time, America’s problems are “good” problems. (For more insights on this, the historical text Work and Life: A Study of the Social Problems of Today is a great reference).
The same line of thinking can apply to your business.
Think back to when you first start out as an entrepreneur. Maybe this applies to you right now, or perhaps it wasn’t too long ago.
When you’re just getting started, you’re doing everything yourself. You have to answer to your clients, your contractors, your service providers, your cable guy, and everyone else. You have about 1,000 balls in the air, and each one comes with its own set of problems.
But then, after a while of plugging away at building your business, you’re able to hire an employee or two. You can outsource some of your duties like accounting or HR, taking tedious work off your plate.
Now, instead of dealing with a problem every time the phone rings, you can focus on more complex problems like how to lead your business through a new phase of growth. As you scale your company little by little, your problems slowly increase in quality. They go from annoying and stressful to challenging and interesting.
Everyone has problems. So rather than wishing your problems would disappear, instead work to turn them into a better set of problems that’s more aligned with the business and life you want to have.
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