Opportunity: Overcoming a Problem

    Before I get into the heart of this article, I want to tell you a story that you may have heard before, (it is an old story that has been passed from country to country, and generation to generation, so it is modified for each by each), but it is inspirational. Let’s face it, at 4:39 morning, who couldn’t use a little inspiration?

There once was a farmer who had a donkey that wouldn’t work. The farmer had tried everything! Nevertheless, the donkey wouldn’t pull a wagon, wouldn’t walk the stone wheel, and wouldn’t carry a pack or even the farmer. The farmer tried everything to get this stubborn animal to earn its keep. He whipped the donkey, he refused to feed him unless he worked and he was generally very sour whenever he saw the donkey. Finally, the farmer gave up. He planned to take the mule to the market the next day where it would be sold and used for dog food. That night however, the donkey tried to run away from the grumpy, mean farmer. He ran as fast as he could but in the dark, he didn’t get far. He didn’t see the hole in the ground. The donkey fell into the hole. He was frightened and began to bray loudly.

    “Help me! Help me!” The donkey cried. All night he brayed, whined, and cried. He tried to climb the walls of the hole but he had nothing to stand on.

    The next day the farmer heard the donkey and went to see what the commotion. When he saw the donkey in the hole, the farmer had an idea.

    “I will just fill in this hole with the donkey in it then I don’t have to deal with that fool animal anymore!”

    He grabbed a shovel and started to fill in the hole. He threw more and more dirt in right on the donkey. It took the donkey a minute or two before he realized the farmer was trying to bury him alive! “Oh no!” The donkey brayed loudly. Then, he was determined. The donkey decided he would not be buried! With that, he shook the dirt off his back and stomped it in to the ground below him. With each shovel of dirt that was thrown on him, he would shake it off and stamp it in.

    It wasn’t long before the donkey realized that he was nearly a foot closer to the top of the hole. This continued for several hours and the donkey had stopped braying so the farmer thought he must surely be dead. To be sure, the farmer kept heaping dirt into the hole. The donkey though, kept brushing it off and stomping it in until FINALLY the donkey reached the top of the hole. When the farmer bent to get the next load of dirt, the donkey bit him in the BUTT and walked calmly down the road.

    The moral of the story is this: When life throws dirt on you, shake it off, stomp it in, and get a little closer to your goal!

    We all come across problems and situations in each day that we must deal with. We have a couple of choices.

  1. We can choose to let the problems pile up until we are buried, by closing our eyes and wishing really hard that the problem would go away by itself.
  1. We can look at the problem realistically, determine what the solutions are, and then fix the problem.

Based on how we choose to approach the situation, we can turn problems into opportunities. The key to finding the opportunity within a problem is to face it head on as soon as possible. Don’t procrastinate. When we procrastinate handling a problem, it will stay in our head, cause undue stress, irritability, frustration and it saps our energy. In addition, procrastinating can cause a small problem to become much larger with greater consequences. Next, we must look at how we are approaching the problem mentally. If we are feeding negativity into it, then it will remain a problem. If we take a different route and move forward with a positive mental attitude and a plan of action, we can actually benefit and find opportunity for growth, and enlightenment.

“Again and again, the impossible decision is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made.” –Robert Schuller


  1. Identify the problem. Before we can find a solution, we need to know what the real problem is and what is causing the problem. For example, Joe’s bank account was over drawn. This may look like the problem but there is a greater problem behind it. The greater problem lies in Joe’s over spending which caused the bank account to overdraw.
  1. Find the opportunity. Joe now has the opportunity to learn from this mistake. He can see where his budget needs modification and become more adept at managing his finances.

  2. Break it down. Break down your problem and declare your objectives. Take the large problem and break it into clear pieces so you have a better understanding on what to do first, based on importance. Overdrawn bank account means that money has to be put into the account to bring it to a positive balance, and steps need to be taken to ensure this does not reoccur. Obviously bringing the account balance to the positive is the most pressing part of this problem. Then the reason for the mishap must be addressed. Base the decision on the level of importance and urgency, and the potential to get worse.

  3. Set a Goal. Now is the time to set a goal that will address the large problem and the issue leading to the problem. 1. Overdrawn account 2. Over spending. The goal must be specific, achievable and measurable, and realistic.

  4. Decide on the precise steps to be taken. Once you have your goal, you need to know and write down the exact steps you will take to achieve the goal. This means having a very specific plan of action. If Joe just says I have to spend less, he is not motivated to see it to completion. It is too random. Instead, he could say, I will spend less by cutting out my morning latte. I will keep track of expenditures daily. That is a specific plan of action, simplistic, but specific.

  5. Implement your strategy. Put your plan into action!

  6. Check your results. Delegate specific times throughout the process of change to check the results and be sure you are nearing your goal and making forward progress. Evaluate your results. Are you seeing positive improvement? Are you learning anything? Are the current results beneficial and positive?

  7. Standardize. If the results of your plan of action are successful and positive, turn your action into a habit. Make it your standard operating procedure.

Often through the course of problem solving, other opportunities will be brought to light. Take each opportunity and evaluate it. Determine if it is a good time to act on the opportunity. If it is a good time then jump on it! Do not wait and let the opportunity pass by. If the time is not good for action, put it on your to-do list. Soon, you will see opportunities surrounding you instead of problems. A problem is only a problem if we approach the situation with a negative, can’t do, frustrated attitude.

Are there hidden opportunities in your life right now? Try using the steps above to get the best, most positive results possible. Remember, the next time life throws dirt on you, shake it off, stomp it in, and rise a little higher.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Make it a great day! 🙂


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