I know something about you…
Regardless of who you are, I can guarantee these three words apply to you:
You have problems.
The question is — How do you deal with those problems? The answer to that question is key to almost every aspect of your life.
I’m just back home from a mini-vacation. Last night we had dinner at a busy restaurant. I used to work at a kitchen in high school in college. My wife served for a decade. Her mother has been a caterer and her father currently manages a restaurant.
In short, we’re very patient and understanding when it comes to the kitchen and waitstaff.
Anyway. We sat down and our service was going well to start. Then, time passed. And as time passed, we saw the server less and less. Our meal took so long, and our waiter was so absent, that we had to go to the front of the restaurant and check the status of our meal.
Not only did we not get our food, but we watched as nearly every table around us received theirs in a timely fashion.
We suspected the waiter may have forgotten to put the order in or made some mistake, which would have been fine had he addressed the situation and, more importantly, addressed us.
I suspect he was either ashamed, afraid, or both. Finally, by the time we did receive our food, he acknowledged the problem and offered a discount on the meal.
Had he followed the customer playbook and stayed attentive while trying to alleviate his mistake, everything would’ve been fine.
The Power of Leaning In and Facing Your Problems Head-on
Why am I telling you this story? Because it shows a perfect example of the choice you have to make when you encounter problems.
Your two choices are either to avoid problems or lean in and fix them.
Avoidance lets you off the hook in the short-term, but it doesn’t fix your problem, and often the problems you ignore compound and get worse.
Your finances are bad so you don’t want to look at your bills — all the while racking up late fees, interest, and penalties.
You don’t want to look at the scale, your diet, or your exercise habits so you rationalize your way out of thinking about them.
Your relationships, career, and life, in general, could all use a tuneup, but you won’t check under the hood.
Burying your head in the sand does help to a degree — you can avoid the discomfort you’re afraid of — but once you peek up you’re in a far worse situation.
Better to just lean into your problems.
When you lean into your problems you more or less have this conversation with yourself:
“Okay. This is where I’m at. This is what happened. I’m responsible for the situation and addressing it head-on — while uncomfortable — will lead to either a solution or the peace of mind in knowing I did everything I could to improve it.”
Flip Problems On Their Head and Master Your Mindset
When was the last time you addressed yourself in a real way and took responsibility for your life?
What are your problems? Which of your problems are you rationalizing? Are you shifting blame to someone or something when it’s really on you (it’s almost always on you)?
When you lean in, you build emotional muscles that grow as a result of the stress that comes with truly dealing with a problem. Not only can you produce a better outcome, but you get to put a deposit into your confidence & resilience account.
Do this often enough, and you’ll have the reward of being able to say “I’m someone who can handle my life.”
That reward is not trivial. Think about it. How would you divide up the population between people who are scrambling, frazzled, and scraping by vs.people who are handling their lives?
There’s something scary & vulnerable but powerful & liberating in being able to stand emotionally open-chested at your circumstances, bearing them with a relaxed sense of responsibility, and dealing with them as pieces of your life you’ll inevitably run across thus not needing to ‘worry’ over them.
At the end of the day, we enjoyed our meal — no big deal.
This was no monumental story, but it does draw parallels to life. From the small instances like dealing with a customer at your job or the large ones like turning your life around, the best route is usually the same.
What are you going to do today to tackle life head-on?