“Don’t wish things were easier. Wish you were better. Don’t Ask for Less Problems; Ask for More Skills.” Jim Rohn
When I turned 25 I assumed all of my problems would be resolved and that my life would become easy and predictable.
When I shared this misguided and fool hardy belief with my mother, her response was simple: Why’d you think that?
She quickly reminded me that life doesn’t necessarily get easy and you don’t one day wake up with answers to everything.
Instead, you learn and make decisions and hopefully get some damn sense at some point in your fool head.
Almost 25 years later, I can say that she was correct.
The problems, challenges and such never stop; they are attacked by a smarter more insightful individual (me).
Since that talk so much change has occurred that it is just mind boggling.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the reality that problems never stop and if you truly want a great life, it is imperative that you learn to solve interesting problems in interesting ways.
Conflicts, confusion, flat out lies, trickery and deception will continue to plague you as long as you are alive and human.
My recipe for dealing with any and all conflict is simple.
When conflict or misunderstanding or any tomfoolery shows up, it is time for one or both of the involved parties to make a commitment to either gain more skills or set a more defined boundary.
Tracing back all of my confrontations and conflicts, it is obvious to me that once I set a boundary or gained a new skill, things magically deliciously cleared up.
When I began teaching eleven years ago, I had no idea how to teach a class (lack of skill) or set clear cut boundaries (determine with my young people what would or would not be tolerated).
As I focused on becoming a stellar instructor and cultivating exceptional skill in the classroom things began to change.
Although it continues to be a challenge for me, I continue to set boundaries while cultivating additional teaching skills.
My boundaries are often tested when it comes to decision making and having to consider another person’s welfare.
No matter the type of conflict or its size, the ways to correct the misunderstanding and move through it is simple- gather more skill or set a clear(stated in your out loud voice) boundary.
Most of the time the conflict will require that you do some of both.
Whenever I come up against some ghastly foe, it usually requires a greater skill set than I currently possess or a moment or two to look inward and unearth a dormant skill that previously had no reason to reveal itself or be used.
In my personal life, I reach for additional skills and or boundaries when trouble is afoot.
For example, last Summer my nine year old grandson stayed with us.
The Summer before he only stayed a weekend and I mistakenly thought there was no need for boundaries or additional skills.
I was mistaken and the weekend was a disaster.
By the time he swung around for a second visit, I was prepared.
Magically, deliciously, I figured out that the only way this arrangement was going to work and a nine year old would have no way of upending my home was to set some clear boundaries and expectations and rely on what few child rearing skills I had managed to siphon from books and years of teaching.
Developing and then implementing this new knowledge was simple and not always easy.
For one, there needed to be some major buy in from my husband, his other grandfather, who is an adult with his own ways of thinking about children, guidance and how to set clearly defined expectations and boundaries.
Suffice to say, we all had an interesting Summer and I learned a great deal about what it takes to prevent and resolve conflict and what is required if lasting change, i.e. transformation is the goal.
What I didn’t know at 20,25 or even thirty was that I will never have everything figured out and no matter how much I think I know or understand, there is more to know.
Conflicts and personal drama are our greatest teachers if we allow them to be.
It is difficult to remember this when you are in the throes of angst and anxiety.
As I stated in my great life transitions book, Strong Stuff: when you’re up to your ass in alligators, its hard to remember your main objective is to drain the swamp.
I always find this quote hysterical and true.
Conflicts and drama are life’s little reminders- set a boundary here; pick up or hone an existing skill.
Most of us, myself included, don’t like conflict.
For a while, I think I rather enjoyed it and relished in a proper bout of intellectual sparring with a worthy opponent.
Particularly in the course of my long term commitments.
Somewhere I began avoiding them and thinking that I did not want to be in a position wherein I could be hurt or belittled.
Wishing for more skills means that I can focus on what I can do to make things right and disagreements needn’t be a blood bath.
More skills always lead to less problems.
For instance, I was terrified of driving our company van. How did I rid myself of this fear? I took it home and drove it back using two different routes and now that is no longer a problem.
However, when mofos criticize my driving I can easily offer them an alternative route that does not include them being in my car.
Resolving conflict is rarely easy.
It is always simple- stop doing this; start doing that.
It is never easy because as long a you are dealing with people there will be conflict and various ways that things are seen and subsequently dealt with.
Two people can be in the same situation in the same room and yet have totally different life experiences which leads to vastly different interpretations.
For example, I am often amused by my black friends who have a completely different understanding of time and what being late really looks like.
Today I discovered that some people, no matter the amount of discussion, begging, pleading and cajoling, will never give up /give you any amount of “act right”.
Boundaries are nice and wonderful as long as there is an understanding of them and an agreement of repercussions.
When you are in a position to deliver circumstances then things work out a certain way.
When you are not in the position to deliver any long term repercussions then how do you create/demand change?
As I’ve gotten older I’ve mistakenly made the mistake of assuming that everyone has the same level of maturity, devotion and commitment.
My determination to turn this around means that I must learn a new skill- become better and wiser no matter what.
Many times life will provide you with multiple opportunities to grow and become wiser and smarter.
As a person who is committed to change and growth it is always a challenge to figure out how and when to take on chances to develop my life and life skills coping mechanism.
Every life lesson that has come my way has been mixed with a great challenge or difficulty.
Typically something challenges me-I get mad and then I create change.