Are you a Problem Person or a Possibility Person?

half fullOne of the things I love about being a coach is that I get to probe into how my clients think. Part of my job is to find out what propels them forward and what holds them back. Time and again, I see a direct correlation between what people habitually focus on and their level of success and happiness. I’ve noticed that most people tend to “live” in one of two places: problems or possibilities.

One of my clients, Adam, takes on huge risks. He faces huge business and financial issues every day. Most people would crumble under the weight of his “problems.” Adam also has a huge vision—he sees an incredible future. He almost always has a “positive buzz”—he’s excited about the future and making it happen, no matter what the issue of the hour is. You can feel that buzz when you’re in his presence. Adam dwells in the land of possibilities–he seems to magnetically attract people and opportunities.

One of my former clients, Darryl, lives in his problems. He obsesses over what’s gone wrong, what’s going wrong, and what could go wrong. He’s constantly stressed and habitually second-guesses and questions himself. When it comes to his future, he talks a good game, but he resists taking the actions needed to move to the next level. Darryl bailed out on our six-month coaching agreement after just three weeks. He said he didn’t have the time to meet with me and couldn’t justify the expense. Translation: He wasn’t up for accountability and change. I saw great possibilities in Darryl, but he chose to stay in the familiar territory of his problems. Last I heard, his company let him go.

I’m not saying that focusing on problems is all bad and focusing on possibilities is all good. To be successful we need to see and solve problems. However, people who habitually focus on “what’s wrong” often don’t recognize opportunities. They suffer needlessly.

On the other end of the spectrum, some extreme possibility people get caught up in excitement and hype, and are lax on details, follow-through, and completion. They may ignore warning signals and avoid contingency planning.

To be successful in business, you’ve got to be a possibility person who handles problems. You have to be both a dreamer and a pragmatist. Most of us are somewhere between the two extremes. Sometimes we focus on problems and sometimes we focus on possibilities. The trick is to recognize when we’re out of balance–limiting ourselves by staying in the problem mindset, or living in dreamland of possibilities, but not taking action. If you see the need for more balance between two forces in your business, I can help.