7 Ways To Solve Problems At Work, In Ministry, And In Life

Photo by Donna Grayson

Photo by Donna Grayson

Quit Your Whining And Moaning

I used to whine and moan too much about problems at work.

I can look back over my last several years at work with a sense of guilt or shame about my complaining.

And, I’m not talking about problems that were outside of my sphere of influence or control. I’m talking about my day-to-day problems that any good leader encounters.

I would think to myself, “why can’t all these issues just resolve themselves or not even materialize in the first place. I’ve got better things to do with my time than deal with these petty problems.”

The reality is, though, that if you were hired into any kind of leadership role, you were hired to handle problems. You were hired to find creative solutions to your problems. You were hired to push through your problems and take your organization to the next level in spite of these problems.

Can you be proactive in mitigating these problems? Most definitely.

Wise leaders put systems in place to help prevent or at least soften the impact of certain levels of problems. Many problems, though, just come with the territory in your area of expertise.

3 Types of Problems

In my quest to deal with problems, I have found it helpful to mentally categorize these into three distinct types:

  1. Problems within your control. These are the types of problems where you feel like you have enough time, people, and resources to handle them.
  2. Problems that seem outside your control. These are the next level of problems that seem just beyond your comfort zone. Perhaps, you don’t feel like you have enough time, people, or resources to handle these challenges adequately. This is where you need to get creative in your problem-solving abilities. In my own personal leadership, this is where I believe I have grown the most in the last few years.
  3. Problems that are definitely out of your control. There will always be a few problems that will occur that are beyond your ability to fix. You just need to move forward and go on. If you feel like you have adequately planned, prepared, and done your best, then that’s all you can do.

How I Deal With Problems, Today

When I finally made that connection in my mind a few years ago that a big chunk of my leadership role is dealing with regular, ongoing problems, I could actually sort of calm down and relax about it all.

Do I enjoy having the problems? No, not really, but at least I now have a better understanding that when you’re dealing with volunteers and limited resources, you will have problems.

Stuff happens. You’ve gotta deal with it. So, this is how I have learned to deal with it.

  1. Lead from a position of strength. I can deal with most problems a lot better when I’m exercising daily, eating well, and getting adequate rest. My physical body is able to handle the stress better. Also, when my personal life is in order, such as with my relationships and my finances, I am in a healthy mental and emotional state to deal with work issues on a whole better level.
  2. Set expectations upfront. You can probably avoid a lot of problems on the front end by clearly stating your expectations with your team on the front end. Attempt to take a pre-emptive strike approach before the problems even begin.
  3. Relax. Take a deep breath. It will all work out somehow, some way. Many leaders tend to blow problems way out of proportion, at least I know that I struggle with this from time to time.
  4. Formulate a few solutions to your problems. List these solutions from best to worst.
  5. Work your list from best choice to last choice.
  6. Throw money at the problem. This is my “ace in the hole.” If I can’t get any traction with my list of solutions, then spending money will be my last option if necessary.
  7. Be vulnerable and open to suggestions from others. Occasionally, I will discuss my larger challenges with others. When I do this, I am amazed when they see solutions that I hadn’t even thought of! Graciously thank them for the idea and go see if you can make it work!

Question: How do you deal with problems in the workplace, in ministry, and in life?






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The Power of Life Detours: How Unintended Paths Can Lead to Awesome Things

Photo by Don Harder

Photo by Don Harder

Detour Ahead

Does the “Detour Ahead” sign strike fear in your heart while you’re driving down the highway? Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of that sign, either. I’m always wondering if it’s a short detour or a long one? Is this going to make me big-time late to my destination?

Now that it’s early summer here in the Midwest, state transportation departments are already busy at work repairing highways after a brutal winter. I’m starting to see more detour signs as a result. Motorists are having to leave their intended path of travel, take detours off onto side roads, and then eventually get back to their original travel path.

These detours can be fear-inducing, annoying, frustrating, time-consuming, and unwelcome in already busy, stressed-out lives. “Ain’t nobody got time for that” (credit: Sweet Brown) is a popular saying in our current culture that comes to mind.

As with road construction detours, so too in life, we have detours that take us off our intended path. These detours could be the result of accidents, completely out of our control. These detours could be the result of poor choices in our own sowing and reaping. These detours could even be the result of the bad choices of other people. Stuff happens.

So, whether the life detour is our own fault or somebody else’s fault, the key to these detours is our reaction to them. Are we going to get hopping mad and carry resentment around for the rest of our lives? Are we going to over-react at first before we realize that the detour wasn’t quite as bad as we originally thought?

The best choice we have at a time of detour is to just go with it. Embrace the detour and see where it takes us in the end.

Just Go With It

I can just hear you saying, “Yeah, Larry, sure. That’s easy for you to say. You don’t know what’s going on in my life right now. I’m on a major, lengthy detour right now, and I’m way off my intended destination path. I have no idea if I’ll ever even end up back on the right course.”

I get it. Trust me, I really do. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about my own life detour here: Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan.

Now that I’m past that particular detour and back on the highway, I can truly say that I’m thankful for the detour. God is faithful and guided my path to better places. I’m a better, stronger person as a result of the detour. Even my barber (always a trusted confidant and advisor) says I’ve recieved a “double blessing” on the other side. I definitely agree with his assessment!

Amazing blessings can come through difficult times. I learned how to be a much better husband and a father as a result. I finally figured out how to manage stress and rest. I’ve been able to get in the best physical shape of my life. I’ve become a better writer. I’ve developed amazing relationships on my journey. I’ve read some great books that have shaped my mind and taken me to new and better places.

Each detour you encounter in life, you really do have a choice. You can fight the detour. You can be mad about it. You can allow it to make you a bitter, depressed, unhappy person.

Or, you can just “roll with it” and see where the detour takes you. Chances are, you can learn some cool stuff. You can meet some amazing people along the way. You can become a better but different person on the journey.

On my own life detour I went from Broken To Superhuman. God shaped me into a better follower of Him. All praise be to God for His amazing grace.

Get My FREE Book

Interested in learning more about my own detour? I believe my 5-Step Action Plan can give you the tools to move through these life detours into a better place.

This little e-book addresses the problems and the accompanying solutions. So, do you want to stay angry and upset about your detour, or are you ready to move forward?

You can’t buy Moving From Broken To Superhuman in bookstores. In fact, you can’t buy it anywhere on the Internet. There’s only one way to get it—by subscribing to receive my blog posts via email.

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