Monday, December 5, 2011

Are You Choosing Your Problems?

Photo by Kyle Johnston

Good News & Bad News

You have problems.

You are going to have more problems.

Solving today's problems allows you to tackle a whole new set of problems tomorrow.

Problems & Leadership

Problems, challenges, difficulties, struggles - whatever you call them, problems are not unique to leaders. Problems are part of living. If you are alive, you will have problems.

Leaders just choose a particular set of problems.

Choose Your Problems

You do not get to choose IF you will have problems.

But often, you do get to choose WHICH set of problems you will have.

Effective leaders don't spend time trying to avoid problems. Rather, they put their energy into working on the right set of problems. 

Which set of problems are the right ones? That depends on your values, vision, and goals. What are you trying to do? Which set of problems, once solved, will get you closer to where you want to be?

How It Works

Here's a sample we're all familiar with: We can choose a set of problems related to exercise - finding time, dealing with discomfort, etc. Or we can choose a set of problems related to carrying extra pounds and lack of strength.

Now for a leadership example: You have a team member who consistently under-performs and others team members are carrying extra responsibility. 

You've got a choice of problems: You can choose problems related to ignoring the situation - your team is stressed, the individual never improves their abilities, and your leadership credibility declines. 

Or you can choose problems related to addressing the situation - learning how to have performance conversations, being disliked or misjudged, and the discomfort of confrontation.

Each set of problems leads to different outcomes. Which do you want?


There is great freedom when you realize that problems are unavoidable and begin choosing which ones you will have. No longer is your energy wasted in the hopeless effort of avoidance.

You will even find yourself energized as you live in alignment with your own values, vision, and goals.

Read More:

The Only Way Out
Lead from the In-Between
One Word to Freedom
Book Review: The Oz Principle
Book Review: The Question Behind the Question

Take care,

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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