Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Problems or Heroic Opportunities

I hate problems. I grow tired of solving problems. I especially hate other peoples problems that become my problems. But here is what I know about problems, they are usually heroic opportunities. If you help somebody solve a problem, if you create solutions where there don’t seem to be any or find ways around obstacles you become a hero. Now you are not a hero in the Supeman understanding of heroes, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but to the person who was struggling you become a hero. A hero is defined as, “a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act.” It is, therefore, a matter of perception. Some people see problems as obstacles, others as heroic opportunities. Some see them as a chance to pass the buck or avoid work or find an easy way out, others as a chance to “make some one’s day” or improve the lives of others, even if for only a short time.

My friend Tawana looks for heroic opportunities. When a problem lands in her lap, she marshals her resources, makes phone calls and does everything within her power, and sometimes beyond her power, to solve the problem. Some of the problems may be small, like helping a youth worker find a computer to use to check email from home or making sure their room has extra towels, but other problems can be much more serious. Like the time when one of our speakers needed a glucometer to check their blood sugar because they were diabetic or when a staff member was struggling with problems at home. In either situation she saw their problem as her problem and found ways around obstacles to find solutions.

I know another person, Jim Mousemount we will call him (not his real name) whose primary talent if finding problems and complaining about his problems. Then, instead of finding solutions, he attempts to pass the buck. He doesn’t see a problem as a heroic opportunity as much as a chance to fall short and make excuses. “We don’t have enough money.” “We don’t have enough staff.” He has a “we don’t” attitude and it infects everybody he comes into contact with. What is particularly aggravating is when the organization he works for internal problems become problems for their clients. When, instead of finding creative solutions, he attempts to pass his problem along to the person who is paying him to solve the problem. This, my friends, IS a problem!

I have this ridiculous notion that a client’s problem should be our problem and that our internal problems should NEVER be the client’s problem. That the reason they come to us is to help them find solutions and to provide them with answers to their needs. and their problems If we fail to be creators of solutions then we will have a problem, since then our clients/customers will find another place to solve their problems.

So, where does that leave us? It leaves us in positions to become heroes. I demands that we find creative solutions, explore unheard of ideas and open the box of our minds to possibilities that have never been tried before. Like I said earlier, I hate problems, but I love heroic opportunities.

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