My opportunities + problems are very different things. Or are they?

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

When you boil it down to the bare essentials, business (and possibly all aspects of life) is simply about dealing with opportunities and problems. Everything is either categorized as an opportunity or a problem... if it can't be, why are you dealing with it?

The way we address opportunities + problems is more or less the same:

  • Understand the situation.
  • Identify objective(s) to deal with the situation.
  • Develop plans and initiate activities to meet the objective(s).
  • Adjust according based on effectiveness of the activities and other feedback.
  • Monitor the situation to ensure the objectives have been met, controlled and are sustainable.

It does seem we view opportunities + problems as opposites - Opportunities are considered beneficial and generally embraced, whereas problems are generally viewed negatively and to be avoided. Are they really opposites though? The most optimistic of us will say the difference is simply attitude... every problem can be looked at as an opportunity and it is just a mater of perspective.

Ponder this though, a person has 900 pounds of wood fall on them, turning their foot around 180 degrees and breaking their pelvis in three places. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who would say, "Good for them, there is great opportunity in what has happened". No one is looking at this as an opportunity to take advantage of, but rather a problem to be solved. Although there is an ample amount of optimism, it is directed to a quick recovery not the philosophical perspective between opportunities + problems. 

Opportunities and problems should not be viewed as opposites but rather as a sliding spectrum from problem to opportunity and vice versa; constantly moving as problems are solved or situations change. What is a problem today, once solved, becomes an opportunity tomorrow... much like the problem with a broken leg and the possibility of never walking again. Four months after the fact, the problem becomes an opportunity to coach others how to fight through adversity and be better than ever (which includes walking, running and playing).*

The difference between Opportunities and Problems lie with the negative consequence of not solving them successfully. If you miss on an opportunity, there is opportunity cost to contend with to be sure, but most likely there are few negative changes with your current situation. With Problems however, if you are unable to solve for them, you are still dealing with the negative consequences of the situation - And more often than not, it leads to more problems. 

Consequence makes my opportunities + problems very different things, and although my approach to solving for opportunities + problems is more or less the same, I will always deal with my problems first.

If truth be told, it took me a while to figure this out.


PS: The blog title was influenced by the musical group July Talk and I have attached the link to their video with a similar title. Guns + Ammunition  

* This is one of Big Red's more colourful stories.