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So. You think you've got a problem?

How often do you hear, or say, "The problem is..." Many years ago I worked with a young graphic designer who would always say, "It's not a problem. It's an opportunity." (Sandy, wherever you are out there, I remain ever grateful for this snippet of grace.)

What do you feel when you hear that word: problem? My guess is most of us feel a negative, foresee an obstacle, sense something bad or insurmountable ahead. Moreover, if it's directed at us, we feel resistance, as in, "I don't want to hear what's coming next. This isn't going to end well for me, or go my way."

But what is a problem exactly? As Sandy reframed it so simply so many years ago, it's an opportunity. Now how does that feel? Better than a problem, I'll bet.

Why haven't you lost that 10 pounds you're always talking about? "Well, the problem is..." When are you going to quit that underling job of yours and go to grad school? "I want to but the problem with that is..." You always say you wish you could return to your old hobby of drawing, but you never do it...what's up with that? "Oh, yeah, I do, but, see, the problem with that is...."

The next time you hear, "The problem is..." come out of your mouth, or mine, or anyone's, stop and think -- and reframe it. "The reason is..." "The challenge is..." "The situation is..." "The fear..." "The old habit..." "The thing worrying me..." "The catch..." "The puzzle..." Don't let the word "problem" excuse resistance or lazy thinking or just inertia. It's just a word. Reframing your "problem" can go a long way toward grounding you in your own power and opening the door to action and subsequent change.

As I've repeated many times before, words have power. Take back yours.

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