Leadership Tools (Part 3) – Problems or Opportunities

By August 13, 2016 September 9th, 2016 Blog


Problems Or Opportunities

By: Jacqueline T.D. Huynh

A company once sent two shoe salespeople to an area in Africa where they had never sold any shoes.  One was of their senior, most experienced salesmen, Tom, and they expected big things of him.

The other was an optimistic rookie named Cynthia. She didn’t have much experience, but she had a lot of enthusiasm.  They figured she might be able to sell a few pair of shoes.

Shortly after their arrival in Africa, Tom, the experienced salesperson wrote the home office saying, “You might as well bring me back. Nobody here wears shoes.” The rookie, Cynthia, wired the home office an urgent message: “Send me all the shoes you’ve got.  Nobody here is wearing shoes!”

You may have heard this “joke” – but it illustrates a key difference between anabolic and catabolic leaders. Two people, faced with the same

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situation, yet having totally different reactions. What’s the difference between them? In a word, it’s energy – Tom is catabolic and Cynthia is anabolic. Catabolic people see problems and challenges everywhere, and in everything. Anabolic people see opportunity and possibility. And not only do they see opportunity, but they take action to capitalize on it.

Most of the time, people focus on what’s wrong – in their lives, their businesses, the world. They complain, moan, and don’t take a lot of action – and why would they, because they just know that there are more problems and challenges ahead. This is catabolic, destructive energy – and it surrounds us every day.

People with anabolic energy (especially at Level 5 and above) find opportunity in everything. They don’t see the bad and make it a good; they truly only see opportunity in all that happens. They look at a situation and ask “what’s working here?” “What’s right?” “What’s next?” They don’t see problems or challenges, just exciting adventures and chances to make things work better.

Businessman hand draws success words on whiteboard

So while a catabolic person might get upset and angry if one of his customers took his business to a competitor, an anabolic person would look at that situation as a chance not only to get the customer back, but to also change and improve the circumstances that led to the customer leaving in the first place.

As you go through your day, look at your responses to what’s happening around you. Remember that your perceptions create your energy level, and that creates your reality – the world you know. And most importantly, remember that you can learn to choose your response and begin to shift from catabolic to anabolic energy (if you’re not already there!)  Ask those solution-focused questions of “what’s right?” and “what’s next?”  After all, it’s your world, and you can create it as you wish.

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