My first real full-time web development job had me at a small Christian ministry. That meant despite selling products, we were always reliant on the donations of people who believed in our ministry.

This is a hard place to be, because donors are regular people who lose jobs or move on to a new ministry that’s more relevant to them in their current stage of life. It means that some years your budget goals aren’t met and you have to cut things to make the new budget.

When these setbacks came up in staff meetings, leadership was always quick to name it an ‘opportunity’. I’m sure most of you have heard this language in an organization you’ve worked for — there are no problems, only opportunities.

Why an opportunity?

The thinking in most business is that by calling any problem an opportunity we look at the bright side of life. We look towards what may come out of this slight change in direction as we course correct to try and reach the original goal.

What this misses for many people is that, in fact, the challenge sucks. Maybe it does more than suck — it’s possibly life changing. It’s okay to acknowledge that. It’s just not okay, however, to sit there wallowing in that big change.

No one is saying you can’t take a minute to think, Dammit, this sucks. By all means, vent. Exhale. Take stock. Just don’t take too long. Because you have to get back to work. Because each obstacle we overcome makes us stronger for the next one. But … No. No excuses. No exceptions. No way around it: It’s on you. – The Obstacle Is The Way

The key with any setback or change in plan is to remember that what happens to us is only a small part of our life. How we deal with these setbacks reveals our true character.

[Tweet “Each obstacle we overcome makes us stronger for the next one.”]

When that project gets behind, do you just throw your hands up in the air and walk away or do you put in the extra time needed to land it properly for your clients? Do you adjust the scope for initial launch so you can get the core elements out and done, and then finish up the rest as you fix bugs?

When setbacks come up, don’t just immediately say it’s an opportunity. Be willing to give yourself a few minutes to acknowledge how much it sucks. Then get back up and keep moving forward.

photo credit: nickdm cc

One response to “Why do we call problems opportunities?”

  1. ginger Avatar

    I like this. While it *is* an opportunity your points are realistic on what happens with our emotions as humans. When the s$%t hits the fan, it’s not fun. As with most things, time helps the sting or sucky-ness of it tone down and, I believe, at a minimum we learn good stuff of what to do, or not do going forward.

    Happy Holidays and New Year!