Life Isn’t All Great


I did a keynote presentation for a great company last week called Ingram Micro, a $300+ billion, Fortune 100 company. In my keynote, I discussed:

• How these are the most exciting and opportunity-rich times to be an entrepreneur in all of human history (why that is, statistically).

• How technology is leveling the playing field (redistributing the wealth) between big business and small business, disrupting status quos, control of distribution channels, and direct and immediate access to massive global consumer markets.

• How more “new wealthy” and new millionaires will be produced in the next 10 years than have been created in the last 110 years—combined.

I also talked about tuning out creative-spirit-crushing negative news media (as we’ve discussed in How to Change the World, Fuel for Growth, Info Power) and focusing instead on what is positive and right with the world—the abundance and prosperity, and the role models, mentors and people doing extraordinary things in the world today (a la SUCCESS magazine).

Afterward, in the lobby, an attendee asked me this question for clarification: “If we are just supposed to focus on the positive and not the negative, what about the reality of what’s going on in our business, industry and market economy? We can’t just ignore it and assume everything is positive, can we?”

My answer: “No, of course not. I am not suggesting don’t acknowledge reality; in fact, that is where change and opportunity begins.”

Reminds me of something Jim Rohn used to teach, who also didn’t believe in blind positivity. He would say, “If you are broke, the best thing to affirm is ‘I am broke.’ In fact add, ‘I am age 40, I live in America and I’m broke.’ Put that on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or car dashboard. Let that motivate you to start taking some serious action.”

No, I said, I am simply suggesting that you look at the reality of problems with a new set of eyes. Instead of seeing them only as problems, see them as opportunities. I reminded him that the business of entrepreneurialism is finding a problem (a need) and solving it (providing a solution). Problems are like food, water and oxygen to the entrepreneur. It is the best possible scenario. Problems are the doorways to gold mines. Look at the changing world as a giant new harvest of opportunity, creative potential and prosperous possibilities.

To start this subtle but massive shift in mindset and view of the world around him I suggested that he write down the top 10 “problems” he sees with his business, his industry and his marketplace, then ask himself the following questions.

I suggest the same exercise for yourself–your breakthrough idea might come out of it:

• What’s great about this? Name three benefits this situation creates?
• What did I do to contribute to this? What could I have done to prevent this or hedge against it? What can I learn from this? What new opportunities for reinvention do I now have?
• How does this change things? Who has been disrupted? Where is there now a void in the market? What need is now not being served? What new needs have been created?
• Whose customers have now been liberated? How can I attract those newly liberated customers?
• What are the biggest problems my customers are facing? How can help provide a solution?
• What are the biggest problems my competitors are facing? How can I take advantage of that?
• How is technology changing my business? How can I be a leader in that future?

So, no, life is not all great. And that’s a great thing! If it were, it’d be much harder for us to find problems to fix and needs to serve, and thus our fortunes in helping make a difference.

Yes, see the reality of the world and all it’s problems; just see those problems with creative, helpful and opportunistic eyes!

What questions do you ask yourself when presented with a problem to see the benefit or opportunity in it? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.



45 responses to “Life Isn’t All Great”

  1. Hello Daren,

    I am truly inspired but looking at my life i dont know how to remedy my dissatisfaction.

    I have some useful knowledge in administration and fashion academicaly, but discouraged by stiff competition and frustration at having no new marketable idea.
    Decided to make a career in Health care to pay off debts while i keep trying to make sense of my life. But am worried of taking such job the without passion and enthusiasm to help me give quality service.

    Realized recently that am too fearful and have no resilience to stick to my dreams. Dont know what to make of this then.
    What happens to me? Anyone any ideas.???

  2. This sounds extravagant, additionally timely! I’ve noticed about crude oil retinue kick except for just about countries, I’m ex Australia.

  3. Thanks for sharing SUCCESS with your friends and students, Donnah! And great story, too. Thanks so much for sharing this inspirational place with us! :)

  4. Hi Darren thanks for all of the inspiration and direction. I work with students and love my work. I now share this magazine and some of the articles with friends and my students. Recently I visited a wonderful place in Pittsburgh Pa, Manchester Bidwell Training Center. I traveled there after reading the book, Make the Impossible Possible, by William (Bill) Strickland. What a great place for people who chose not to go to college after high school. And what a great success story! Bill had a dream that started as he followed the smell of coffee and the sound of Jazz music into his 10th grade art tachers’ classroom. That one moment changed his life. He dedermind that he wanted to provide that same opportunity for others….. and he does just that in a grand and beautiful way. Bill Strickland, partner Jim Showrank are people you should know. They exemplify what Success stands for. Thanks again for your work and example. Donnah Robinson Washington DC

  5. Great example, Daniel! And good resource to suggest as well. Thanks for both of your thoughts (Deep & Daniel) and responses. What a great conversation starter we’ve got here! :)

  6. Deep,

    Pardon me, I inverted the brain hemispheres in my above commentary : the left brain is the logic conscious and the right brain is the intuitive unconscious.
    To answer you, yes you are right, that “faith” skill and knowledge in not taught anywhere. I’d suggest for a good start that you concentrate your skilled critical thinking on information contained in a book called “The Master Key System” by Charles Haanel. Don’t ask me why this book was banned in many places when it was first published around the beginning of the 20th century. After having read this book, a guy named Bill Gates dropped out of college from Harvard University and founded the Microsoft Corporation. Bill does seem quite rational to me and I see his logic everytime I turn my computer on.

  7. Daniel, Thank you for responding. I do appreciate a perspective different from mine. It is, however, difficult to believe in something contrarily extreme to the current reality. It is a skill not ordinarily taught anywhere.

  8. Hi Deep,

    You seem very deep indeed with your right brain skills and that is good. What you seem to forget though in your logic is that we as humans have a left brain to, which is intuitive. It is estimated that it can find solutions 10 000 faster than the conscious mind, only if you know how to use it. For long this has been known by ancient philosophies, but this is actually scientific. Faith is not only for religion, it is a very precise skill. If you can visualize something firmly in your mind and let your subconscious believe that it is something already true, then every single event that you will provoque in your everyday living will be unconsciously inspired and conspired towards your visualized goal (people who don’t understand this mental process believe it is magic, mysticism and that’s why so many people that have strong logic like you seem to have often reject anything that is related to this). This skill takes time to learn and use. If you do some research on your own you will find that all great achievers in history that have every existed mastered this skill. The apparent paradox in this is that it doesn’t require the person to actually be very intelligent if he can only apply this skill. I hope this helps you find the deep potential that is already in you.

  9. Now Jeffrey is bringing faith into problem solving. You are espousing to begin with the end in mind, but from start through end use creativity (I read it as critical thinking). At the point of the start how did you envisage the end? I have failed. I accept responsibility for my actions and end my life. B fails (on identical conditions as mine). She gets depressed for sometime. Gets up and uses her writing skills dramatising her failure and writes a book. As you know Americans like zero to hero (in this case heroine) stories, her book becomes a New York Times bestseller, nay a box office hit movie. At the point of start (her crushing failure) how did B visualise the act of monetising her failure (what Darren says to Dan Collins as “opportunity,” noted above)?

  10. Darren,

    Your point hits the nail right on the head about people who see opportunity in life’s challenges. I have an enormous amount of respect for what you are doing with “Success” particularly since those that read it and comment on your blog are rarely the ones who could benefit the most. (although it certainly does benefit us all). Doesn’t it drive you a little crazy that oftentimes you are preaching to the choir? It’s the vast populace who disregard, deny or just don’t care about what you have to say that could benefit from it so very much.

    Keep up the great work pal.


  11. Sarah, Thanks for your postil. You are a modicum intuitive. Darren’s post followed by your’s actually triggered my thoughts. I am not at variance with you but you failed noticing a deeper point ensconced within your writing: may be B is a skilled thought engineer. She has learnt the art of critical thinking whereby reason bosses unruly emotions? I hope Darren responds.

  12. Susie…
    Thank you for your kind words.

    I’m here to win and will interrogate anything with a pulse to find solutions. From the stance of desperation, most people are content to give up what they think or know just to get rid of me. People are inherently kind and helpful and want to offer what they have between their ears to help…. especially when I make them the star of the conversation.

  13. I think that is the question of the ages. We all have a different tolerance to fear. The most fearful will blurt out, “NO!” Without even thinking. The least fearful person will be patient and say, “tell me more.”

  14. Darren,

    It is wise not to ignore the problems in our business and to use the creativity God gave us to solve the problems. I believe solutions existed before there were ever problems. Before mankind every took a step on the Earth, God provided everything in abundance of whatever we would ever need.

    We must know the solutions already exist. When we do then we will begin to expect them. Once we expect the answers we need we will get them.

    What we expect, we get.

  15. Darren, I wonder why A under conditions X sees Y as a disaster, but contemporaneously B under identical conditions X sees Y as a diamond mine. Is it their belief system or how they question the Y or a mix of both? You make me think a lot.

  16. This is the “glass half full” scenario. So true and yet so commonly fewed as half empty. I will definitely be sharing this with my teem and then brainstorming to find ways to take atvantage of the whole class. Fill it to overflowing so that our success will spill out to others as Jim Rohn has. I work in the telecom. industry which is becoming fiercely competitive. We must see how our approach to sloving consumer need differs form the others. Then realize the great benefits we offer our customers and associates. Focusing on the competition is not productive. Focusing on our solutions well be!

  17. What a great question you asked the lawyer Sarah. And his reply was priceless! Your story will stay with me and I’ll pass it on. Thank you!

  18. Great blog, thank you Darren!

    Would love to read a piece by you on those bullets at the top of the article!

  19. Thanks for the Great insights you constantly seem to be a terrific source of “Wisdom” sent from God the Father at the right times. With appreciation and gratitude.
    May your day be Blessed and Prosperously, Profitable.

    In the Dale Carnegie book he teaches to look at the worst that could possibly happen and ask yourself can you accept that and live? Now from there move on and ask yourself what can you do to improve your current situation and have a green light session with yourself or your team to make things happen and take a risk.(paraphrasing) From Dale Carnegies, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.”

  20. Once again great stuff! I will be sharing this with my team. I like the idea of writing things down. As a writer I have found that one can really get a feel for what lies deep inside when they put the pen to the paper.

  21. A while ago I was faced with a huge problem and needed the advice of an attorney. It was a pretty scarey time for me. One day I asked the lawyer, “Do I have a Trump card?” He replied, “No, but you have choices.” That was the most profound thing anyone has said to me.

    I made the decision to make choices based on where I wanted to end up as opposed to running on a treadmill.

    I tell myself when faced with a problem I don’t immediately see a solution to is “Girl, what’s the plan?” “She who is most desperate will win.”

    I always land on my feet.

  22. “We must see and feel darkness before we ever respect and run to the Light.”
    MamaBelle, a towboat cook for more 14 years on the Upper Mississippi and Ohio Rivers

    This is my grandmother, one of the smartest women that ever lived. She had an 8th-grade education but I would take her advice over a Harvard graduate any day of the week.

    We need this awakening in the the most profound way. My 14-year-old son is comparing prices on soup cans. That’s got to be a good thing.

    Without challenge we do not grow. Without pain we do not learn. Without sadness we cannot understand happiness. It’s going to hurt and we’ll sweat, but all of this will be the best thing that ever happened to this nation.

  23. As an author and life coach I have the exciting opportunity of working with people going through unexpected and often unwelcome circumstances. But having done this so often allows me the perspective of knowing there are many positive options – most having never been “seen” except for the unwanted event forcing having new eyes.

    Great post on choosing the positive even while acknowledging the reality of temporary circumstances.

  24. Darren- One year ago we stopped getting the local newsletter and made the decision to stop watching the news. I can say without hesitation I am a happier person. I scan the home page of MSN, so I know what is going on. It seems as though 80% of the news is negative and keeping those negative messages out of my head is making my life better!

    As always, great post!

  25. Hi Darren,

    An inspiring article…. :-)
    The first thing I do when I face a problem, is to see the cause that has created it. When I come across the cause, I would have steps planned for its resolution. For me the cause and resolution goes hand in hand. The outcome would be always as desired by me.
    I dig to the extent, where I find the root cause, and I love finding the root cause, it puts me in a position where I am in contact with the source of creation.. :-)

  26. Spot on Darren – my little business was born out of seeing other people pour good money after bad because they didn’t know how to ask the right questions of the people they turned to for help, nor did the people they turned to know how to ask the right questions of them in order to provide the requested help. Since I had struggled myself on both sides of the two fields (entrepreneurship and technology) I could see both sides and became the “bridge between”. Now I run a small but rewarding web marketing consulting and design business – serving the people who many businesses with my capabilities consider “unworthy of their time”. Not only do I make a nice living for myself and provide decent paying jobs for a couple of employees, I also get to spend my days “hanging out” with people I love to work with – other very small business owners that are in it for the passion and hope to God they can make a living at it too!

  27. Dear Darren,

    Thanks for sharing an wonderful insight into positivism in a negative environment.

  28. After losing everything, job, retirement account, health insurance, etc a few years ago when the company I worked for in Michigan closed it’s doors and took all the employees’ assets, I realized my greatest fear…losing my job.

    Starting over wasn’t easy. i had debt to pay, no job for a while, and required multiple surgeries, all which left me $93000 in debt. I obtained financial counseling services, paid off the debt working 2 jobs, and now teach others how to get out of debt quickly and manage their finances for the benefit of their families’ futures. What seemed at the time like a death sentence became my second wind. I will never again own that fear. Thanks for always providing insightful articles that make us THINK!

  29. It’s true that problems can spur us on to new heights. For instance, I run a deck company. We had many problems, including no clients, no way to transport tools to the job site, low motivation…First things first, we started getting busy finding clients. We found them, this gave us motivation, once we signed our first contract for a large custom deck, we faced the problem of getting tools to the job site. Along comes a friend with a large truck he’s willing to rent to us for the summer months.
    If you go ahead and start tackling your problems one at a time, often the resolution of one problem will clear up others, and also guide you in solving others. Problems are opportunities, don’t fear them, face them and enjoy the benefits.

    Great post Darren.

  30. Thanks Darren. I agree completely and have started applying this principle both professionally and personally as well. It wasn’t easy at first because we instinctively want to go into excuse mode. Looking at issues with a positive attitude reveals the hidden opportunities often not discovered any other way.

  31. Thanks Darren. In almost every case if we will just step back and view a problem in the manner you discussed-the solution or an even greater opportunity presents itself. Preventing ourselves from going into excuse mode and looking at the issue with a positive attitude is paramount.

  32. I ask myself, “How can I make this work?”
    The answer to that involves thinking outside the box of habit and limited thinking. I may need to involve others who are a compliment to my needs.
    When we are solution oriented, that’s what we get….a solution.

    Once I’ve passed this situation, I always like to reflect and ask, “What did I learn?” and then I try to share those lessons with others.

  33. Darren,
    Your presentation and questions are spot on. I have spent 25 years counseling. One particular individual, who happened to be a senior executive, just kept stirring in his personal life pot of messes trying to get the mess to look different. I asked him one day to step back and look at his personal life as if it were a business — a business designed to make a profit which was reinvested for the future of that business. He came back to our next counseling session with a plan for his five acres of land that would make it financally sustainable and keep him occupied. He needed something to work at –not work on.
    Thank you for your daily wisdom that keeps us asking ourselves the right questions.

  34. You are right on Dan! That is why in the end it is so easy for us (achievers) to do so well… so actually it is okay everyone else just sees problems when we (us achievers) see opportunity – less competition that way! 😉

  35. Darren,

    This post is great. I recently had a veteran friend who recently returned from Afghanistan lament how the pervading gloom he heard from business people in America was a little out of place when you put it in perspective of what was being experienced by both locals and servicemen in that country. It caused him to ask me “how can I keep looking for solutions when all around me in business are looking at their ‘reasons’ why things are so bad?” My response was that a very few people see the opportunity and look for solutions in any circumstance, and in the most dire situations see the greatest opportunity to separate themselves from the crowd think, while most others focus on the circumstance as a crutch or reason why they can’t move forward. The only question you really need to ask yourself I replied is whether you want to be one of the few or one of the rest. A blunt but effective response that brought a wry smile from him.

  36. All the questions you have posed are fabulous. Thank you. We’re going to take them and apply them. One question we ask ourselves, is “How are we going to make a long-term difference in the life, business and family of this person?” Then we take it from there. We’ve also learned to find out what everybody around us is doing (that’s not really working), then do the opposite of that. This is true of just about anything. Very few people will do all the things you write about in Success Magazine. It takes real grit and discipline to do those things. Thanks so much, Darren, for being a DAILY blessing in our lives!

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