A Simple Breakthrough Habit to Reduce Management Headaches

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As supervisors and managers, it seems like our days are filled with more problems than solutions.  This is a leading cause of burnout in many leaders.

What if you could remove the stress of difficulties, excel in your role, and lead a more fulfilled life?

All it requires is a shift in mindset.  Read on to learn how to make this shift.


Over the years, I’ve learned to look at problems a little more positively by referring to them as “challenges” – something that might slow me down but that can be overcome.  I had trouble with this for a long time because I still saw these problems as something negative that should be avoided at all costs (if possible).

But recently, I’ve been learning a bit about the Stoic philosophy.  Stoics look at obstacles not as something negative that needs to be avoided, but rather, as a positive part of everyday life that they can use for growth.  By doing this, Stoics resist knee-jerk emotional reactions that cloud sound thinking and judgment and cause psychological pain.

When issues arise, instead of panicking or worrying, they calmly turn the problem on its head and identify what good can emerge from it.

Problems always provide opportunities to stretch, grow, and improve.  Challenges also add interest and excitement to life.  When you cruise along doing activities you’re already great at and don’t run into any obstacles, life can get very boring very quickly.

Welcoming problems (challenges) to tackle can be your path to growth, success, and a more fascinating life.

A Management Example

This perspective can radically change the way you manage people.  Before starting this technique, you may have seen the person sheepishly knocking at your door to tell you about a mistake they made as an inconvenience, interruption, and barrier between you and your work.  Now that problems are challenges instead, this same situation becomes an opportunity to improve processes, coach and train, and build a deeper level of trust with the person?

For starters, you’d likely behave a lot differently.  Rather than scowling, continuing to work, and sighing while you listen to their problem, you’d probably look up from your work with a warm smile, invite them in to sit down, move away from your computer and phone, and listen to them deeply.

How might that change the interaction?  How might it improve the level of creativity brought to solve the problem?  How might it make a difference in your relationship?

Let’s break this example down into how you can turn an employee mistake into something good the next time this comes up (more than likely later today!):

  • You can look at this as a wonderful opportunity to practice something that successful people across all fields have said help them to succeed: being fully present and mindful. Living in the moment, rather than in the past or future, is said to be one of the secrets to living a great life.  It allows you to think more clearly and, therefore, be more creative.
  • This situation also gives you the opportunity to put people before things. By setting aside your computer, phone, and papers, you are setting aside your tasks.  This is the first step to truly listening to and connecting with the other person.
  • You now have an opportunity to practice listening without thinking of your response, mirroring back not only what the person said but what you think they might be feeling. Giving another person this level of undivided attention ensures he/she senses you really care and, as a result, strengthens your relationship.
  • You’ve also been given a chance to practice your coaching skills. Rather than telling the person what he/she should do, ask them some questions to get them to think through the best next step.

You Get What You Need

Life has a way of giving you exactly what you need.  If you need to practice patience, you’ll be given an extremely talkative employee.  If you have anger issues you’d like to control, you’ll find yourself with plenty of opportunities to practice staying calm.

We all know that nothing remains the same.  The universe is always expanding, and challenges are the universe’s way of giving you a chance to evolve.  Without these challenges, we would never be pushed to grow.

Once seeing challenges as opportunities becomes your default mindset, you’ll get excited when things go wrong.  You’ll understand that it is happening for a reason and to try to resist it may cause you to miss a chance to grow.

When You Can’t See the Good

Some days are better than others.  On the days when you’re struggling to think of anything positive about a situation, think of it as an opportunity to do your job and show your worth.

After all, if there were no hitches, would supervisors and managers be needed?  It’s your job to deal with these situations, so thank goodness problems happen every day, or else you’d be out of work!

So, the next time one of your team members is pushing your buttons and you feel the negative reaction rising in your body, take a deep breath and smile (even if just in your mind), and be thankful for what you’ve been given.

Looking at trials as opportunities provide us a path to becoming a better manager and to living a happy, fulfilled life.

Time to Practice

What supervisory problems have you encountered this week? How could you look at them as opportunities?

Please leave your answer in a comment below.

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