When dealing with a problem, it’s all about perspective.
In the past, I’ve defined myself according to my accomplishments or standings; for example, my parents’ firstborn, the short black guy, a graphic designer, an actor, and so on. But what do you do when there are no new accomplishments? No visible forward movement? What do you do when life throws you a disruption of epic proportions and it becomes clear that the circumstances are out of your control?
You get a new view.
If you’re standing at the bottom of the deep end of a pool holding a twenty-pound dumb bell in each hand, your thoughts about the water in the pool are going to differ greatly from your thoughts about the pool water if you’re standing on the deck holding those same dumb bells.
You, your intentions, your actions, as well as the way people react to you, all change when you change your point of view. Think about it. If you’re in a dire situation that you can’t change, and all you focus on is the problem, all you’re going to see is the problem. It’s not until you shift your point of view from focusing on the situation to finding the solution that you’ll transcend your circumstances. It really is that simple. I’m not implying the situation will change overnight, but by opening your mind to other possibilities, you open yourself up to possible solutions.
Case in point . . .
When I lived in LA, I was unceremoniously laid off from a pretty sweet job in Beverly Hills. Yes, it was serious blow to my ego and while I packed up my belongings I felt as if the bottom fell out of my world. But on the drive down Sunset Boulevard to Laurel Canyon and on to Studio City. I knew everything would be okay. I didn’t know how, when, or why; but my world wasn’t going down in flames like the HIndenburg. Because I wasn’t wallowing in the anguish of losing my job, I focused on the solution: finding a job. I called my agent and told him I was back on the market (as my previous job precluded me from other work). This is where things got strange . . . he told me my timing couldn’t have been better. He a gig came across his desk moment before I called that I was perfect for. Three days later, I was on set and working. And by simply being in the right place at the right time, another opportunity opened up which proved to be one of my greatest adventures.
And all of that future goodness would have been forfeited had I focused only on the problem.
When faced with a problem, my inclination is to get so focused on it that I lose sight of everything else, much like falling down a well and looking only at the bottom and sides of it, and mumbling I’m stuck in a well, I’m stuck a well. And that’s okay, but if while in the well, I never change my point of view and look up, the likelihood of me seeing the rope ladder being lowered down to me—whenever it comes—becomes quite slim.
Sometimes when I’m in the midst of a challenge, I’m given to viewing myself as that challenge. For example, losing my job didn’t make me unemployable or neutralize my talents and skills. I was only without a job.
Deluding oneself that everything’s fine As with Flowing with the Go, denying the existence, impact, or relevance of a situation is one of the worst coping mechanisms. Left unchecked, this strategy can have far-reaching and disastrous effects.
Getting a New View Includes—
- Flowing with the go Realize that a situation is out of your control. You can not control the external factors surrounding the situation. Believe that God is ultimately in control, regardless of whether or not the situation is of your making or someone else’s, and he is ultimately has your best interests. (See Thing 1: Flow with the Go.)
- Stepping out in faith in search of the good Fear is a typical response to life’s challenges. I don’t know about you, but with me fear can manifest itself in one of two ways. Either the emotion will seize me and shut my brain down; which pretty much renders me unable to make any sort of rational decision. Or the fear triggers my imagination which immediately beelines it straight to Worst Case Scenario theater, where in a half a second I can see a hundred different ways to Sunday how a challenge can ruin the happiness of everyone on the planet. (Yes, that was a slight exaggeration, but you get the point.)Stepping out in faith instead of fear enables situations to blossom into opportunities for something better to take shape. It’s not our responsibility to know what this better thing is (that goes back to controlling), our responsibility is to go on the journey and find the good while growing in the process.
- Expanding your point of view to include that of others Situations will arise in which we’re the unstoppable force who encounters an immovable object. What happens then? Perhaps that’s an opportunity to expand your point of view to include those of others.Despite what some would have you believe, seeing a situation from someone else’s viewpoint isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a hallmark of compassion. If your point of view is so brittle that it won’t remain intact while you examine the experience of another, you might want to reconsider having such a brittle point of view in the first place.
- Seeing a challenge as an opportunity to give instead of receive A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with colon cancer, which metastasized to his lungs. In the face of his diagnosis, my friend never looked at his situation through a self-pitying lens, but chose to turn the situation on its head and put his energy into serving others.As in the case of the aforementioned friend, a mutual friend of ours was faced with the challenge of longterm unemployment. Instead of focusing only on his own challenge, a lack of employment, he took another look at his situation and chose to see it as an opportunity to help our friend during his battle with cancer and in the process became this man’s best friend and confidant.
- Seeing a challenge as an opportunity to step back and recharge Sometimes a lull in the action is just that, a quiet time. And after an exceptionally turbulent period, a break in the action can be a serendipitous time of renewal. It follows the natural order of things when you think about it. We spent fifteen to eighteen hours a day on the go, and the remainder of that time we use for rest. It stands to reason then, shouldn’t we take some time after a prolonged period of dealing with a challenge to rejuvenate?