The only difference between a problem and an opportunity is in the mind. A problem means that there is no clear solution, while an opportunity means there is a chance to exercise creativity.
To the unprepared, an opportunity looks like a problem because they have no idea how to solve the problem. But to the prepared, a problem looks like an opportunity.
Therefore, under the right mindset there is no such thing as a problem, only an opportunity.
The challenge then, is learning how to be prepared and take action when opportunities arise.
Student Voice, a non-profit organization with a simple goal of allowing students to speak up about education, did exactly that. Recognizing the disconnect between education boards and students, Student Voice began simply by using twitter as a medium to chat about education, and has now evolved into a weekly chat on twitter between students, parents, and educators.
Prior to the rise of popularity of Student Voice, the founder had no clue what the response would be. Nevertheless, he took the opportunity to present a solution. The response, to Zak, was a complete surprise. Not only were teachers and students interested in participating in Student Voice chats, Student Voice was noticed by companies that began offering support.
No matter how insurmountable a problem might present itself, anyone can solve problems. Social media has made it easier than ever to share an idea, present a concept, and make connections.
The reason why people fear problems is because they fear failure. But ultimately, people who begin actively making a difference and changing the world are people who accept themselves and embrace failure, knowing that the most powerful successes come out of failure.
So what if a problem is an opportunity to fail? If you can’t afford to fail, then you’ll never be able to afford success.
Understanding flow is something that no one taught me when I was younger, and only have I recently been thinking about. Flow, in this article, is defined as the zone of productivity when a person gives their complete, undivided attention to an activity, often to the point of losing track of time, and occasionally even other human needs (sleep, food, restroom breaks).
A friend recently sent me an email asking if breaking activities into one hour chunks was an effective way to be productive. Essentially, he was proposing a modified version of the pomodoro technique, which some people swear by.
However, an aspect that stands out about the pomodoro technique and similar techniques is the rigid time frame that can potentially end up interrupting flow. The reason the pomodoro technique works is because it is using time as a physical and tangible inspiration to become more productive.
Having an external motivator like time is often necessary, especially under circumstances where the activity at hand is not the most appealing, or you would otherwise have no desire to do the activity.
After I realized that something like the pomodoro technique was a way to inspire flow, I decided I would rather figure out a way to directly get into flow and maintain flow rather than using a measurement of time to inspire productivity.
The unfortunate truth is that relying on a time keeping device to manage your productivity can potentially train a person to value a length of time over productivity and creativity. And unfortunately, that’s exactly how the school system is set up with class and break periods.
Everyone at some point in their life has experienced flow without restraint from time, as those are the experiences when you lose track of time.
Getting into flow looks different for each person and looks different for each activity, but their are a couple of common attributes to every flow state.
- People in a flow state aren’t easily distracted – When a person gives their undivided attention to something, nothing can easily distract them from what they are doing. Thus, finding an environment without distraction is generally helpful to maintain flow, but is not necessary if flow is strong enough.
- People in a flow state generally do things faster – People who are highly focused in on learning something new generally learn a lot faster and a lot better. If information is coming in faster, it generally requires a much higher state of focus in order to comprehend and process all of it as it comes in. Driving a car at 120 mph definitely requires more focus than driving a car at 20 mph.
- People in a flow state care about the activity they are doing and understand why they are doing it – Also known as driven by an internal passion or bigger picture, flow states are usually accompanied by a somewhat deep desire to accomplish something. Therefore, a good place to start to get into a high level of focus is to figure out why you are doing something, and then dig even deeper.
Here are also some interesting stories on flow if you’re interested – Steven Kotler – Hacking Flow & Ultimate Human Potential at SuperheroYou.
But of course, understanding how flow works is only a piece to productivity, and learning how to implement flow into a healthy physical and emotional lifestyle is a whole other topic.
Doing a backflip will draw attention from everyone around you. People will watch your feat, wishing they were able to perform such a stunt.
The main obstacle for performing a backflip is not physical. Anyone with an average amount of athletic ability is physically able of performing a backflip. Fear is the only obstacle.
People are mentally unprepared and unable to take the risk and attempt such a feat. To learn how to do backflips, a person must be prepared to fail. Once the risk is taken, a backflip can be learned in a relatively short period of time.
Like backflips, people are physically capable of achieving great things, the only thing holding them back is a mindset of fear.