One of the most deeply entrenched habits of mind that virtually everyone has is to regard problems as adversaries to be overcome. This means that we often seem to spend most of our time battling problems. In fact the number of potential problems we have is virtually infinite, so we can always find some more to fight.
I would like to propose that we look at problems in a radically different way — as friends to be welcomed.
Why? Because problems and setbacks are usually the times that we learn the most valuable lessons and make the greatest growth. If we had a world in which everything was perfect we would never learn anything and have no impetus to grow — we would also be bored to tears!
I had a very powerful demonstration of this, which I would like to share with you. I was really struggling with my second book and finding it more and more difficult to write. I knew very well what the message was that I wanted to get over, but I was having a really hard time getting it down on paper. I was resisting writing and what I did succeed in writing seemed to be competely failing to get over the spirit and reality of what I wanted to convey.
I was battling and battling away at this problem, trying to find a way to overcome it. And then I finally realised that I was ignoring my own words in the book about treating problems as friends to be welcomed. What would happen if I treated this problem as a friend?
So I asked myself “If this resistance I am feeling to writing my book is in fact my mind giving me a strong message, what would that message be?”
The second I asked the question I realised that the reason I was resisting writing the book was because I was unhappy with the way I was writing it. I saw clearly that I wanted the book itself to be an example of everything that I was saying in the book. So it had to be written according to the principles I was teaching and had to show those principles at work in my own life at the same time.
So with two months and eleven days to go to the deadline for delivery of the book I decided to scrap everything I had written and start again!
This was a terrifying decision to make. But the effect of starting the book again from scratch and this time writing it the way I wanted to write it was like taking a cork out of a bottle. One week later I have written 26,814 words, just about half the total book! The effect of listening to what my resistance was saying instead of fighting it has been that I have written as much in seven days as I wrote in seven months before. A thirtyfold increase in productivity! And what’s more I was extremely happy with what I had written.
Choose a problem that you have been battling for some time without success. Instead of thinking of ways of overcoming it, ask yourself: “If this problem is a friend with a message for me, what would that message be?” Then listen to the answer and be prepared to act on it!