Pondering the Fortune Cookie’s Question

Pondering the Fortune Cookie’s Question

“Do you see difficulty behind every opportunity, or opportunity behind every difficulty?”

Can you believe I found this question in a fortune cookie?!? What a delightfully unexpected and thoughtful question to ponder at the end of a take-out meal! What I especially love about it is the underlying, very actionable message: Sometimes what we need to make progress is a shift in perspective.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in just “having a positive attitude” or glossing over concerns that crop up. But I do believe in breaking free of the mental barriers we erect – the rigid stories we tell ourselves (the ones that seem like fact over time), the “reasons” why things won’t work out, and the running internal commentary about what we can and cannot do. Often, the first step toward a new freedom of thinking is just a willingness to consider that there might be another way to look at the situation at hand.

Then it’s possible to ask questions like:

What if I saw

…the lack of time I seem to have not as an insurmountable hurdle but as a choice I’ve made, one that I can change?

…the challenging member of my team not as a person to avoid or work around but as a test of my versatility and skill as a manager?

…the upcoming restructuring not as another upheaval but as the start of a new phase?

…the enormous task ahead not as something to put off but as a chance to delegate or get others to help me?

…this next step I’m about to take not as a chance to fail but as an opportunity to learn and grow, regardless of the outcome?

Is there a “difficult” area in your life where you’re willing to shift your perspective, even for a moment? If you consider that alternate point of view, what opportunity do you see?

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What People Are Saying

Dwight McLeod   |   24 February 2011

Great perspective and a way to shift the paradigm. It is hard when you are looking up at the difficulties, to flip the script and look for the brighter side. Thank you for sharing this.

Cathy Alfandre   |   25 February 2011

Thanks, Dwight! Hopefully, with practice, we can all become better at remembering to shift our perspective on “difficult” things. I think it’s a challenge for all of us — it’s so natural to worry about and resist things that look hard…. But if we can flip the script, as you say (great expression, by the way!), we can lower our stress levels and really enjoy each day, no matter what presents itself. Thanks again for your comment!