How to Face an Unexpected Problem or a Difficult Situation

In business and in life things happen sometimes, and very often, things happen without any warning. One moment, everything is great and the next moment, you fall down, figuratively or literally. How you handle those falls defines who you are as an entrepreneur and as a human being, and also impacts your business and your life in a very profound way.

So today, I will share with you my three-step system to handle anything that life throws at you gracefully and efficiently.

If you prefer audio only, you can listen to the full episode on my podcast below or on iTunes.

Step Number One: Smile.

I know, it makes absolutely no sense, but please bear with me.

When I was a teenager, I read an article which said that a smile is the antidote to anything bad that life throws at you. And I figured, hey, it doesn't hurt to try. And I tried.

The next time something happened, which was relatively minor, I think I fell down or something, the first thing I did before I even got up was smile. I even laughed at myself. And you know what? It made me feel so much better. It made me feel so much lighter and so much more optimistic.

The next time, I smiled again, and again, and again. And now years later, it became a habit. The first reaction that I have to anything bad that happens is a smile. Sometimes even self-deprecating love. When you develop this habit, when your first reaction is a smile, you’ve already set up yourself for success. You set up yourself to overcome whatever the issue is that you need to deal with.

And this can apply not just in business or in life, but also in public speaking. My personal biggest fear in public speaking is not what they think, it's not how I’ll do, it's not whether I'll forget what to say, my biggest fear is so much more trivial and funny. It is of me falling down on stage if I'm wearing heels. I really am worried about falling down on stage if I'm wearing heels. That's my biggest fear.

And guess what? It almost happened. I did stumble, and I almost went face down on the floor. I caught myself, and my first instinctive reaction was to smile, because that's what I do anytime something happens. So I smiled, pulled myself together, got up, and cracked a joke, something about how even Goddess supermodels fall on the runway wo what are they going to expect from me, a mere mortal barely standing on two feet. And I just continued going like nothing happened. Just trust me, a smile makes such a huge difference as your first response to any situation.

Step Number Two: Assess the situation.

For most people, the immediate response is either denial, they put their head in the sand, or they have a complete and total mental breakdown. You do not want to be one of those people. Remember, Step Number One: Smile. Step Number Two: Keep your head cool. So no matter how uncomfortable, unpleasant, or even painful it is, you need to do a very quick assessment of the situation, of what's going on, what just happened, and do a mental or even written inventory of all of the damage that has occurred.

Step Number Three: Look for an immediate and long-term solution.

I am very much a solutions-driven person. I look for the solution right away. It’s like an instinct in me, so as soon as something happens I'm immediately thinking of long-term and short-term solutions. But I haven't always been like this. I used to be a completely different person, and I would just totally break down and cry and sit in sorrow and let it linger for way longer than necessary.

And a lot of us do this, right? We sit and we cry and we feel this pity for ourselves. Which is not at all productive. What's productive is to maybe feel some self-pity really quickly, but then focus on solutions. First, your immediate solution: What do we need to do to address the situation right away? Find the immediate solution. Next, long term solution: What do I need to do to prevent this from ever happening to me again?

As entrepreneurs, we are dealing with issues and breakdowns and crises, every single day. That’s what makes this so exciting and so stressful. But as an entrepreneur, unless you have a solution-driven mindset, you just won’t be able to achieve long term success.

So let's go over the three steps again. Let's say something happened. An employee quit, a contract fell through, you locked yourself out of the office or your house or out of your car, all three happened to me. Step Number One: You smile, or even better, laugh at yourself. Take a few seconds and just laugh at the situation, because sometimes the situation is so ridiculous, you just have to laugh. Step Number Two: Assess the situation. Assess the damage. See what happened, see the problem from every angle, because only after you see the problem and the situation from every possible angle can you go to Step Number Three, which is finding a solution. Come up with an immediate solution to deal with the problem right now, and come up with a long-term solution to prevent this problem from happening again in the future.

I wish you lots of success, take care!


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