By: Gifford Brown, Vice President of Sales
Upon arriving back from my summer vacation, I was unwelcomed home to the eyesore of a rather large brown area of my yard that clearly was not receiving adequate water. I live in Utah where water is gold, and to make matters worse, we are in a full-blown drought with significant water restrictions and conservation practices in place. Being both responsible and resourceful, I have learned over the years that with the right techniques of volume, duration, time of watering and adding “xeroscaping”, it is very feasible to keep a green lawn with minimal water. With testing, time and tinkering I had created a great solution. So seeing this brown patch in my prized possession aggravated me and motivated me to fix the problem — and fix it now!
In this article, you will find:
I developed my plan and set my sights on easing my irrigation irritation in short order. But, oh, the best laid plans! Long story short, I spent the better part of six hours in the blazing sun, working through roughly eight sprinkler heads, assessing the problem – the problem that opened the flood gates to more problems.
So, after my second Home Depot visit, I was laughing to myself as I held the receipt for all of the valves, adapters, sprinkler heads, fitments and such. The receipt should have read at the bottom, “Thank you for shopping at The Home Depot – see you back here in 20 minutes”! That’s the way it is sometimes; you think you have the solution, but it just doesn’t do the trick! So you try, try again.
As I managed my way through my problem(s) in the hot sun, I could not help but think of work and how fitting of a metaphor my current situation was to events that play out in our business – or any business. Problems are a reality of life – we deal with them every day – some are small and some are big. You can make a mountain out of a mole hill or, conversely, underestimate the effort needed to deal with a problem. You can also look at your potential of solving a challenge as a glass half full versus a glass half empty situation. And while the viewpoint is up to you, don’t fool yourself into believing your mindset doesn’t impact how effectively you deal with it – is this a problem or an opportunity?
The dictionary definition of a problem is “a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome”. That definition doesn’t really seem complete and, in my opinion, is a limiting belief. Haven’t these dictionary contributors ever heard the expression that problems are just opportunities?
As a young salesperson, I was always captivated by catch phrases and motivational talk. “Prior proper planning prevents poor performance”, “Plan your work, work your plan” and, of course, “Problems are just opportunities.” It only took me nearly 30 years to figure out how to turn problems into opportunities, and it literally comes down to one thing – your mindset. If you don’t recognize that you will face problems, some small and some large, every day, then you’re either living a charmed life or you’re naïve. We are all going to face problems – with family, with friends, at home and at work. The trick is to prepare your mind to embrace a solutions mindset – literally, to look at problems as opportunities.
So when I went through every sprinkler head in Zone 4 – one issue led to the next – in all, eight opportunities. I paused, I cursed, I contemplated giving up, I went to Home Depot, twice, and ultimately found the solution to all my landscaping opportunities. Eureka! Not only is it working, I learned how to maintain the system better, ensuring better future outcomes, am confident that I am not inadvertently wasting any water — and I got to know the team at The Home Depot better!
I am not perfect, and believe we all wear the same T-shirt that says, “Work in Progress” in bold letters. But introspectively, I look back at my irrigation irritation and am proud that I chose the path of maintaining a solutions mindset. The same goes for the opportunities we face at Leahy-IFP, or wherever you work. Keeping a solutions mindset allowed me to better systematically devise a plan, keep my cool, work the plan (even in the blistering heat) and showed me the way to greener pastures, although that brown patch is still a work in progress!
Let’s look for opportunities instead of problems in our work every day and recognize our power to control how we deal with them. My message is this: whether in business or personal life, embrace a solutions mindset so you can see problems as opportunities – the grass will always be greener there, and it will enrich your ability to learn, grow and succeed.