By Abel Pagaling

(This article was originally posted at


“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” -Albert Einstein

‎The world is not perfect.  People are not perfect.  We have imperfect relationships, imperfect environment, and imperfect jobs or businesses.  Add all these imperfections and you get one thing for certain – PROBLEMS (taxes and death are the other two certainties in life, but that’s for another discussion).

There are problems everywhere.  We have problems (or have experienced problems) in our relationships, finances, profession, business, with our kids, with our boss, and not to mention with ourselves.

I bet right now you probably have several problems.

The question is, can problems be turned to opportunities? The answer is YES.

Problems are such great opportunities that we’ve created professions and businesses around it.  Engineers, counselors, personal mentors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, doctors, flight attendants, and all other jobs have one thing in common – they solve problems.

If you’re employed, you’re providing a solution for your company. If you quit, the work you do will not get done, hence causing a problem for the business, which in turn is an employment opportunity for another person.

So why not be bold and let’s call problems “opportunities.”

Adopting this mental attitude, I suggest these three approaches to turning problems into opportunities:

  1.  Be Proactive
  1.  Attitude Change
  1.  Focus on the Solution

Be Proactive

I can write a whole series on this, but simply put, being proactive is about “making wise decisions early.”  This is an opportunity in itself.  It forces you to practice “planning” which is a great personal habit to develop.

Planning lets you “think” your way through your circumstances so you can avoid potential problems.

An excellent example of being proactive is financial planning.  Financial planners will advise you that a financially secured retirement is all about planning and managing your finances now.  If you don’t have a retirement plan, then you’re not planning to retire.  This can cause a whole lot of issues down the road when your body starts to slow down, and job opportunities start to disappear as technology and younger, more skilled workers enter the workforce.

I think that many of our problems can be avoided if we’re proactive.  If we plan and act early, we can have greater control of what goes on in our lives.

Being proactive is about being smart, and being smart opens doors for many opportunities.  By being proactive, you unburden yourself with potential problems, which allows you to work on the important things in your life.

Attitude Change

Are YOU attracting or even initiating your problems because of your attitude?  To say YES to this question requires a great deal of personal courage.  It’s difficult to accept that we cause our issues, but doing so opens the door for personal improvement opportunities.

I suggest looking at your attitude to see the changes you need to make.  It could be that you get angry easily. It could be that you have difficulty accepting criticism.  Or maybe you avoid problems altogether.

Do a personal attitude review and check for potential weaknesses in your attitude. Ask a trusted friend, your spouse, or your personal mentor for feedback.  Ask if they see any flaws in your attitude that could be causing or contributing to your problems.

Looking at the areas you are weak at with the intent of becoming strong in these areas is a behavior that is common among the “masters” such as top athletes and business or community leaders.

Top athletes practice certain moves that they struggle with over and over again until it becomes a part of their strength.  They work on any weakness they see in their game.  I call this the “refining” process.  It is something that successful people embrace so they can continue to be at the top of their game.

Do an honest “weakness” check and see where you need to make adjustments in your attitude.  Make this a part of your personal development.  Possessions and wealth can be taken away, but the personal growth you’ve done in you is something no one can take away.

My mentor once said, “Change your attitude, and the world around you will change with it.”

Focus on the Solution

When faced with an uncomfortable situation, there’s the tendency to look for someone or something to blame.  This is the easy approach.  By placing the blame somewhere else, we don’t have to do the hard work of looking for a solution.  But the greatest opportunity for self-improvement lies in finding solutions for the problems that come our way.

One thing that successful people seem to do with ease is accepting responsibly for the problems they face.  They do this not because problems are easy to address, but because they understand the potential for growth and learning that happens when they solve problems.  They see problems as challenges, or opportunities to test their skills and character.

The key to taking ownership of your problems is to “focus on the solution”.  Don’t dwell on what went wrong or get stuck in the negative emotional gridlock.  Find a way to move forward.  Focus on what you can do and then take action.

Taking ownership of a problem is difficult, but it is essential to personal growth.  It lets you practice your emotional control and constructive thinking under difficult circumstances.  This approach demands courage, effort, and mental and emotional stamina which can only be developed and strengthened by facing problems head on.

I can guarantee that you and I will encounter problems.  How we react to problems is a direct reflection of our character, our personal values, and principles.  It shows what we are truly made of.  It exposes our capabilities, our strengths, and weaknesses.

See problems as opportunities.  Use it to “refine” yourself.  When you encounter a problem consider it as another stepping stone, a chance to improve YOU.  And when you solve a problem, always celebrate because you’ve just contributed to your personal development.

“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide that your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your father, mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” -Albert Ellis


Abel Pagaling is a co-founder of FCM.

He is a manager, an entrepreneur, a writer, a community servant, and a motivational speaker. His passion is personal development and leadership.


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