By Patrick Achitabwino:
You sit down at home, in the office or you are walking on the road but your mind is transfixed on the multitudes of problems that are weighing heavily on your shoulders? Your job is hopeless. Your marriage is in crumbles. Your business is faltering down. Dreams that you have been nursing are now nothing but a distant memory of the fantasy world and wishful thinking world. Pose for a moment. For every problem there is an opportunity. Some of the world’s most remarkable innovations and businesses arose from problems. Actually, any innovation or business is created to solve a problem. The problems you have offer you an opportunity to awaken the innovative and creative side of you that has been dormant because you were in the comfort zone.
If it was not for problems, Sir Thomas Edison would not have discovered the electric bulb having failed 9,999 times only to be successful at the 10,000th time. This is the person who said: “I did not fail 9 999 times. I only learnt other 9,999 times in which not to make a bulb.”
But in his own words, this is how problems inspired him to discover the bulb. “I was paying a sheriff $5 a day to postpone a judgment on my small factory. Then came the gas man, and because I could not pay his bill promptly, he cut off my gas. I was in the midst of certain very important experiments, and to have the gas people plunge me into darkness made me so mad that I at once began to read up on gas technique and economics, and resolved I would try to see if electricity couldn’t be made to replace gas and give those gas people a run for their money.’
Thomas Edison finally discovered the bulb and established Edison General Electric Company, which later became General Electric and brought light to homes in America.
If it was not for problems, the world would not have had pipelines that transport oil. When two rail transport giants Vanderbilt and Scott colluded to raise the fare of transporting Standard Oil, the oil king John D. Rockfeller was infuriated. To him that was a declaration of war. He was determined to find a cost effective way of transporting his oil to consumers in America. He noted that in the oil refineries, oil was moved in large pipes. He simply concluded – if oil is moved in pipes at the refinery therefore pipes could be used to take oil to consumers. He embarked on building the oil pipelines to cut the rail costs.
A mile and half of pipeline was being laid every day by the workers. When it was completed it was over 4000 miles long stretching across Ohio to Pennsylvania and penetrating to many parts in America. He eliminated rail roads from his business. The rail industry that had been the largest for over 25 years was to be nothing without Rockfeller’s oil. Rockfeller was no more to be at the mercy of rail line giants. He had created his own model of oil transportation.
Leadership guru John C. Maxwell also adds weight to the position that challenges or call them problems offer us wonderful arrays of opportunities. In the book The Difference Maker he reminds us: “The majority of the time adversity paves the way for success. That was the case for King Gillette, who was so tired of sharpening his straight razor that he developed the safety razor with disposable blades. It was true for Chester Greenwood, who suffered from frostbitten ears and consequently developed earmuffs. It was true for Humphrey O’Sullivan, a printer, who tired of co-workers who kept stealing the rubber mat he stood on to work and finally created rubber heels for his shoes.”
Adding to the narrative one can say, it was loss of employment that made Edward Kalua establish Combine Cargo. It was abject poverty that forced Mike Mulombwa to walk on foot from Mwanza to Blantyre in search of destiny and he is now a billionaire. It was exacerbating poverty that saw Napoleon Dzombe dropping out of school in form 2 and become a wealthy farmer, investor and philanthropist. It was joblessness that sharpened the writing skills of Jimmy Korea Mpatsa who had to survive on writings short stories for newspapers when times were hard. If you critically examine lives of achievers you will realise that it was problems and challenges that inspired them to success.
John C. Maxwell urges us to start looking at problems differently: “Problems are wake-up calls for creativity. If we choose to wake up and get up, problems will prompt us to use our abilities, rally our resources, and move us forward. When a person has the difference maker, adversity causes him to draw on and develop greater strength.”
The problems you are facing today are presenting you an opportunity to make a breakthrough that has been waiting for you.
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