Never let a problem become an excuse.. By Robert Schuller
What is the secret ingredient of tough people that enables them to succeed? Why do they survive the tough times when others are overcome by them? Why do they win when others lose? Why do they soar when others sink?
The answer is very simple. It’s all in how they perceive their problems. They look at problems realistically and practically. They understand the six principles that pertain to all problem.
What are these principles? If you knew them, understood them, and practiced them, would you, too, be a winner, a survivor? You bet! Here they are. Listen carefully, and adopt them as your own.
1. Every living human beings has problems.
What is your problem? Are you unemployed? If you’re an impossibility thinker you probably think that a job would solve all your problems.
The truth is that employed people have problems too. Most people who have jobs complain about the fact that they have to go to work on Monday morning.
And countless people have jobs they don’t like. They are giving five days a week to unhappiness. They work to live rather than live to work. They hate their jobs.
They drag their feet getting to the office or factory. And once they’re there they devote a great deal of their time to negative thoughts. They focus on the unenjoyable aspects of their jobs.
Some people think their problems stem from the fact that they have to report to a boss. They falsely assume that they would be happy if they could be self-employed.
It’s true that they might find more enjoyment in such a working arrangement, but many self-employed people have more problems than those who work for others.
They have to be concerned about employee relationships and managing personnel for maximum productivity. So you work for a boss? You may think so, but in reality you’re probably not.
Chances are he’s working for you. Everybody’s got problems—the employer as well as the employee.
Well then, what is the answer? Retirement? How many people long to reach sixty-five, planning for the day they can lie in the sun, take each day as it comes, be accountable to no one, and still have money to live comfortably? Sound like bliss? It’s not, really.
Retired people also have their problems. Many are bored. Not a few become very depressed soon after retiring because they no longer feel productive or useful. Many actually with they could be back at work.
Successful people! Surely they are exempt from problems. Right? Wrong! Actually the contrary is true, for success doesn’t eliminate problems, it creates new ones.
The point is clear: Nobody is free from problems. A problem-free life is an illusion—a mirage in the desert. It is a dangerously deceptive perception, which can misled, blind, and distract.
To pursue a problem-free life is to run after an elusive fantasy; it is a waste of mental and physical energies. Every living human person has problems. Accept that fact and move on to the second principle.
2. Every problem has a limited life span.
Every mountain has a peak. Every valley has its low point. Life has its ups and downs, its peaks and its valleys.
No one is up all the time, nor are the down all the time. Problems do end. They do go away. They are all resolved in time.
History teaches us that every problem has a life span. No problem is permanent. Do you have problems? They will pass; they will not last.
Your problem will not live forever, but you will! Storms always give way to the sun. Winter always thaws into springtime. Your storm will pass. Your winter will thaw. Your problem will be resolved.
3. Every problem holds positive possibilities.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing” (Prov. 25:2). Every problem contains secret ingredients of some creative potential either for yourself or someone else.
There are two sides to every coin. What may be a problem to someone can be a profitable business for others. For instance, rats and mice are plagues to the human world.
However, the presence of rats and mice in America alone results in tens of millions of dollars in our economy. Rats and mice are responsible for thousands of jobs! Factories make mousetraps.
Similarly, every human problem holds possibilities for someone willing to look for them.
4. Every problem will change you.
Problems never leave us the way they found us. Every person is affected by the tough times. No one emerges from a problem untouched by tough times.
Recently I was talking to a supersuccessful salesperson. His income is in the six-figure bracket. When I inquired about his training, I was surprised to learn that his degree is in history and education.
“Dr. Schuller, the truth is that I was a very boring teacher. Because I was boring, my students were restless and I failed to communicate to them. I was a boring teacher because I was a bored teacher.
My boredom rubbed off on the students. It was not a good situation. Because I had problem with students, my contract was not renewed—actually I was fired.
When the school fired me I became so angry I decided to go out and make something of myself. I went out and landed a better job.”
And then he shared a fem of a line. He looked at me with flashing eyes and said, “I had to get fired before I got fired up!” He went on to explain. “Basically, I was too lethargic.
My contract cancellation jolted me out of a lazy rut. I’ll always be grateful that I was fired, for it made me angry enough at myself to get up and get going.”
5. You can choose what your problem will do to you.
You may not be able to control the times, but you can compose your response. You can turn your pain into profanity—or into poetry. The choice is up to you. You may not have chosen your tough time, but you can choose how you will react to it.
I remember hearing Dr. Norman Vincent Peale interviewed on national television many years ago. The interviewer asked him: “Dr. Peale, how far do you apply positive thinking?”
Dr. Peale answered: “I apply it in the areas over which I have control.” He continued, “If I buy a place and the plane crashes, I have no control over that.” I though about that for a long time.
In a subsequent meeting with Dr. Peale, I said to him, “I apply possibility thinking not only in the areas of life over which I have control but over every area of life.”
He looked puzzled. I explained. “Actually, Dr. Peale, we can control our reaction even when we cannot control the problem.”
When you control your reaction to the seemingly uncontrollable problems of life, then in fact you do control the problem’s effect on you.
Your reaction to the problem is the last word! That’s the bottom line. What will you let this problem do to you?
It can make you tender or tough. It can make you better or bitter. It all depends on you.
6. There is a negative and a positive reaction to every problem.
In the final analysis the tough people who survive the tough times do so because they’ve chosen to react positively to their predicament. This is not always as easy as it sounds.
How do these principles for choosing the most positive reaction to a problem apply to other problems?
The positive solution to a problem may require courage to initiate it. It takes courage to face up to your creditors and to deal with them honestly and forthrightly.
I believe that because my parents kept their marriage intact despite problems, I am a better person and a more tenacious achiever. Their overriding, ever-recurring love taught me to believe in the importance of commitment.
If you know that divorce is not an option, it is amazing how you can learn to love again.
Tough times never last, but tough people do. Tough people stick it out. They have learned to choose the most positive reaction in managing problems.
And that’s the real key: “Managing problems.” For in spite of all of our possibility thinking, there are after all some problems that defy solutions.