Leadership

How to Conquer Small Problems

small problem

How do you stop letting small things get to you?

Some days things will be going along just fine and then something will happen that irritates me and, after that, the whole day can go downhill fast.

It’s usually something minor in the scheme of things, like missing a train, or just catching a train but not having had time for my morning cup of tea.

But what if you could stop yourself from letting those small things get in the way? Wouldn’t that be great?

My favorite technique for doing just that is what I call “reframing.“

The underlying idea is that there are many ways to look at a situation. Some of them are going to be negative, but there is almost always at least one that will be constructive and even energizing.

Reframing is about finding that different lens you can look through, or a different perspective you can take on the situation.

Let me give you an example.

I was standing in a long line of people boarding a flight from New York to Phoenix. As we got near the door of the plane, there was a passenger standing at the side with a suitcase – you know, those rolling things that you’re usually allowed to carry on. But in this case the flight was so full that he was going to have to gate-check the bag.

As people got up to where he was standing, they would ask if he was in line, not wanting to cut in front of him.

Strategy as a Wicked Problem
Strategy as a Wicked Problem

Every 15 seconds or so, he had to reply, “No, I’ve got to wait to check this carry-on bag”. He was clearly irritated by the whole thing.

When I got up to him, instead of asking the same question, I said, “Think of it this way, you have to spend less time than the rest of us squashed into a small space.” He grunted.

The line wasn’t moving so then I said, “Well, you’re also getting to check a bag for free! I had to pay $25 to check mine.” He started looking almost cheerful and thanked me.

How to Adjust Your Attitude and Keep your Job
How to Adjust Your Attitude and Keep your Job

The line started inching forward again, and I overheard the next person asking if he was in line. And guess what? He answered without any angst! He said, “No, please go right ahead!”

I couldn’t resist turning around and saying to the people behind me that this guy was pretty clever having outsmarted the airline! Lots of smiles all around by this time, and people were saying they were impressed too.

The bottom line is that…

There are many ways to look at any situation, and it’s all about how you reframe or think of it.

About the Author

May Busch is a sought-after executive coach, speaker, advisor, author, and former COO of Morgan Stanley Europe. Her passion is helping people succeed in their career and life – to be better, do more, and make the difference they are meant to make. Find her on MayBusch.com and follow her on Twitter at @maybusch