I heard a great story the other day that goes to the heart of how we need to deal with the challenges of our lives. A farmer had a mule. One day, that mule fell into a deep well. He was swimming as fast as he could, but the farmer couldn’t get him out. He knew that not only would the mule die, but his water would be ruined, so he decided to bury the mule in the well. But an amazing thing happened. The more dirt he shoveled in, the closer the mule came to the top of the well. Eventually he walked out. The moral? Use what’s falling on you to step up on.
Cute, you may be thinking, but how do you translate that into real life? I’ve found three questions to be particularly helpful when the sky is raining dirt:
· If anything could be right about what’s happening, what could it be?
· How could I turn this to my advantage?
· What opportunities has this situation created that I could capitalize on?
These are the kinds of questions savvy entrepreneurs ask themselves to find potential business prospects in the challenge itself. Rather than wishing the situation away, they brainstorm how they can make the most of it. But you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to take advantage of this approach. It’s all about believing that no matter how bad it feels, somehow there is a gift for you in the problem itself.
If you don’t have a lot of innovative thinking or feel too stuck in only what’s wrong, you may need help from someone who’s talented at seeing the opportunity in crisis to be a thinking partner. First, have them ask you the three questions and then have them recommend some other answers. Try on what they suggest for a while to see if there is something of value there for you. You don’t have to tread water at the bottom of the well forever!