Alan Donegan: Rebel Business School Co-Founder, Rebel Entrepreneur podcast host, Rebel Finance School co-founder and Queen's award winner. Marvel movie fan fanatic, breakfast lover and financial independent traveller
Back to Blog
Therefore success is determined not by the elimination of problems but by how you react to them. This week I and Katie have had some problems. The Donegans are human after all. It is how we react that is important.
Katie and I are having a tough week this week. Lots of different issues have raised their heads and need dealing with. Three main things have hit us.
We had a huge argument. Yes we are human and occasionally fall out. We both absolutely hate arguing but occasionally it happens.
I have been working for about two years now on a huge project to create something that I can't even tell you about yet! This week I got a massive rejection on the journey to my end goal.
And to top of all that fun we got tested positive for COVID-19. We now have to self isolate inside for two weeks. The symptom of this virus are not fun.
To say it’s been a tough week is a bit of an understatement.
Everyone has problems
Everyone has problems. Life is a series of problems interspersed with the occasional crisis. It would be pretty boring if there weren’t ever any problems.
Problems, issues and challenges are something that we all have. What separates the people that are successful from the ones that get destroyed by their problems is how they react and respond.
Whilst you can’t always choose the problem that happens to you, you can choose your response and reaction. I get to choose how I respond to every issue that hits me and whether or not I can find good in it. I go about this reaction through questions. Here are the ones I ask myself or if I am in that bad of a state Simon my business partner has to ask me!
What’s good about the situation?
This can be a REALLY tough one to work through if the problem has just happened. You need to give yourself a little bit of time to process what has happened and get ready to answer this.
Depending on the size of the problem or issue I like to give myself about 15 minutes to pout and feel upset before I want to stop wasting my time and focus on the positive. If it is really big then this might take longer. This is in stark contrast to Alan 10 years ago who liked to pout, moan and complain for weeks before the turnaround happened.
Let's take my 3 situations and see if I find what's good about this situation:
1. The argument with Katie
This gives me an opportunity to calm down, connect and understand Katie better. Through this understanding and conversation we can work out what happened and work together to help us avoid it happening again in the future. If done well this will help us to become closer and move towards happiness in the medium/long term.
2. The Rejection
Sometimes things aren't meant to be. The pain comes from working so hard, investing so many hours and being attached to the outcome. When it doesn't happen it HURTS! That doesn't mean that it wasn't the right thing. This rejection can release me to speak to other people, make progress in different ways and ultimately will inspire me to create a better version of this project. Rejection is often part of the journey towards creating something incredible.
Now this is a tough one. The first few days of symptoms were mild, headache and tired body. After that it just got worse though. Last night I couldn't sleep properly because my hips, legs and lower back were in so much pain. I tossed and turned and couldn't get comfortable. I lay awake for hours with nothing but the pain.
How can I find the good in this one?
We have to isolate for 2 weeks which is an amazing opportunity to connect with Katie, work on blog posts, think about the future, read and write. This time is a blessing if I can summon the energy to use it. Secondly I have been surprised by the kindness of human beings. A lady we had never met in real life (just through a WhatsApp group) offered to bake and send us German treats to make the isolation easier. People are so kind and caring and I am so grateful for people's support.
If you have a problem in your life at the moment that is getting to you, start with "what's good about this situation?"
This one question can reframe your mindset and help you to start to feel more positive and happy.
What was this sent to teach you?
This is the question my business partner Simon likes to hit me with at the hardest and toughest of times. I am not always happy to hear it, sometimes I tell him where to go before I calm down and think of an answer.
Every situation, every difficult person, every problem has something to learn from it that we can take and invest in our next projects. If you can find the learning from the problems you are now facing and invest them into your next project think how much more progress you will make.
Let's take my three briefly.
1. The argument.
I have a tendency to get angry. This is one of my super powers. If I am angry about something it gives me the strength to tackle a situation, create change or help other people. it can be an incredibly valuable state. However, as with any strength there is often a downside. Anger isn't needed when communicating with my beautiful wife who has my best interests at heart. I need to learn to temper my anger and understand first. Connect, chat and question. I think this is going to be a life long thing I am going to have to work on balancing but I am learning how to do it better and better each time.
2. The rejection
This is something I have never been good at handling. I repeat in my courses that rejection is part of the journey. If you aren't being rejected you aren't out there enough. That rejection is a stepping stone to bigger and better opportunities. I know this to be the case but I still struggle with it personally. This has given me another opportunity at an even bigger scale to practice my skills of dealing with rejection and to learn how to quickly move on and focus on the future.
Here's another tough one; although I think there is a clear lesson. This virus is dangerous. It kills. It has been a horrible experience going through it. What was it sent to teach me? For me personally to be more cognisant of the risks of getting it that we face every time we interact with other people. Health is critical and needs to be cared for, without it what do we have?
If you can find the learning from every problem that is sent to you then you will make so much progress. Life is a series of challenges and crises that are sent to teach us lessons and help us to grow. If you have gone through the pain of the problem then the very least you can do is find the value within it.
What can we do to make the best out of this?
The final thing to do is to focus on what you can do. The danger in moments like this is that one focuses entirely on what one can't do; what one is missing; what has been lost. And if you do that it is a sure fire route to a humongous pity party and not a lot of joy.
This third question is designed to help you (more specifically me!) focus on what is possible, what we can do, how we can make the best of this. This will enable you to start to look at what might be good.
Sometimes this is a tough one if tackled too early and without going through the questions above. Sometimes this is easy to see if the problem is small enough. How you answer these three questions will depend a lot on your state and energy at the time. The questions will start to pull your focus forward and help change that state.
Let's look at my three examples:
1. The argument
How can we make the best out of it? Katie and I have used it to work on our communication, learn from each other about what we both need to do and change and to become closer. Talk about making the best out of an argument. How can you use the next argument with your partner (shit happens) to bring you two even closer?
2. The rejection
This is an easy one to answer and harder to live. There will be a better opportunity around the corner and this one wasn't for me this time. Now I just have to live this one and get out into the world and find the next opportunities.
2 weeks isolation. This is a hard pill for me to swallow. For those of you who know me I LOVE to move, walk, see people and use energy. Now I am a caged tiger in a 2 bedroom flat in Leipzig! How do I make the best out of this?
Katie has got us an adventure game to play together. They are so much fun! We have started preparing our annual review questions that we do each year. We are going to use the blessing of this time to finish our investment series on the blog, hug on the couch and watch Amazon Prime (which is free with our Airbnb!). There is so much we can do to make the best out of this one.
Plus Amazon deliver Lindt Chocolate balls. Katie can't taste anything at the moment but we are hoping her taste buds return so she can enjoy the chocolate I bought us both!
Shit happens and will continue to happen!
We have had a tough week. It happens. We will get through it. We will heal from Covid and I feel very lucky to be able to say that as it has claimed so many lives. We will bounce back stronger from the argument and I will get over the rejection and get back out into the world and find the next opportunity.
Then more shit will happen.
Leading a successful life is not the absence of problems. It is how you respond to them.
The universe, people, life are going to keep chucking shit at you to deal with. Of this I am sure.
Next time it does use these three questions to help you come to grips with it and start to focus again on the future and the cool things you can do. Write them down somewhere and have them ready for the next problem that is sent your way!
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas despite everything and find a way to stay positive, spread happiness and share love.