Unmasking the Problem, Exposing the Secret Opportunity Beneath


unmasking the problem to reveal the opportunity beneathThe other day, I posted about the doldrums that follow the fresh winds of a new idea.  During the drive to work yesterday, while listening to a podcast of Dan Miller’s 48 Days, I was inspired (as I often am by his works) and had an insight about it all.

With new idea you start by seeing the possibilities.  After a bit, the doldrums set in, and you begin to see the problems.  I don’t know if that is because I’m a perennial pessimist and an occasional optimist, or if it that process is natural to everyone.

But if it is part of our nature, then why can’t we turn it around?  After all . . .

“Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.”*

So what we need to do is unmask the problem and reveal its secret identity as an opportunity.

This excites me.  Not just because I just finished watching the TV-show premier of Supergirl, but because I love superheroes, and I love it even more when superheroes are unmasked.

The thing is it won’t be easy . . . like superheroes, problems are notoriously and naturally resistant to this kind of exposure.  After all, a superhero and his civilian identity rarely can exist as just one known person.  Neither, so the motivational experts say, can a positive and negative thought be held in the mind at the same time.  So does that mean if you unmask the problem, you will be left with just the opportunity beneath?

I’d like to hope so.

But how to do this?

Well, a lot of the time, superhero unmasking is borne out of necessity (civilian persona held hostage or the inability to dash off the phone booth to change suits).  That means, not letting the disguised opportunity escape our clutches.  We have to keep an eye on it.

And that ties into another way.  Those who spend a lot of time around the hero, or those are obsessed with the hero, tend to eventually discover the truth.  So that means spending a lot of times around the problem.  Studying it, figuring out what makes it tick, worrying why things don’t quite make a 100% sense about it.

And then, well, with all the buzz about the future Civil War movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Superhero Registration Act comes to mind.  I.e., mandatory reveals.  In this case, it may be a simple case of sitting down and forcing the problem to show its true colors.

However the reveal comes about, motivational gurus promise an opportunity hides beneath the guise of a problem.  You just need to see it.  It may be obvious (like Superman’s Clark Kent disguise of mild manners and dorky glasses), or it may be a complete surprise (like Malcolm Merlyn being the Dark Archer on the TV show Arrow. Okay, technically, that was a villain . . . ).  Still, if the lore holds true, once you unmask the problem, your relationship to the problem is never the same again.

So let’s peek behind some masks, shall we?

* Credited to Benjamin Franklin