Online Business: Turning Problems into Projects – Earl Nightingale
When we use a euphemism, we use a word that is perhaps less expressive or direct, but often less distasteful or less offensive than another.
When we say a person has passed away instead of saying he has died, we are speaking euphemistically. In that particular case it’s less than ideal, but euphemisms, properly used, can change one’s entire outlook on a situation.
My old friend, Parky Parkinson, reminded me that by changing the word “problem” to “project,” we can change our attitude toward the situation.
The great Arctic explorer, Roald Amundsen, said that he and his men could never have gotten through the situations they faced if they had not given them euphemistic names—the light touch. These euphemisms took some of the strangeness, the hazard, the challenge—even the terror—out of their experiences.
A problem might seem ominous or threatening, but if we call it “a project”
instead, our approach to it changes; we view it as something that has a solution—a solution we are engaged in finding. In the same way, we can remind ourselves that our opportunities are often in exact proportion to our problems. Polio was a problem worldwide, but to Dr. Jonas Salk and his fellow researchers it was a project on which they were working and which they were successful in solving. Cancer is a problem to millions worldwide, but it’s a project to thousands of hardworking people in the sciences, and it will be overcome.
When we have a pressing problem—and who is without one for long—I think we need to take this intelligent attitude toward it. This is not a Pollyanna attitude, unless you want to call all the people who have been solving human problems for centuries Pollyannas. It is, rather, a very human, intelligent attitude.
Following an operation one time, I had to go back to my surgeon for checkups, which involved a very painful re-examination of the work he’d done. At first, I would holler and curse and tell him it hurt like you-know-what. But he would just smile benignly and say, “No, that’s stimulating!” It still hurt, but thinking of it as stimulating did something to make the situation a bit less serious and painful, and we could laugh about it.
What might seem like a forthcoming problem might be termed an adventure instead. Thinking of the move to a strange community and a new job as an adventure could change one’s attitude toward it. And it’s our attitude toward something that—more than anything else—will determine its successful outcome.
So try changing the words you use for situations normally thought of as bad or threatening, or painful, to euphemisms, which can give you a more positive outlook. Think of them as projects or adventures, and go tearing into them, looking for solutions. It’s all a matter of semantics and attitude.
Problems are a necessary and unending part of living. Our job is to solve them for as long as we can. And solve them we do.
How do you react to the problems in your life?
Have you ever looked for opportunities that might stem from the problems you face?
Can you think of a way to re-frame your problem so that it becomes an adventure?
Be sure to visit Nightingale-Conant for more self-improvement recordings by Earl Nightingale and others.
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