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Feasting on Challenges: 5 Ways Leaders Eat Problems




In the dawn of day, where challenges seem massive and obstacles appear insurmountable, the adage "eat your problems for breakfast" serves as a rallying cry for leaders committed to excellence and transformation. This mantra, far from a mere motivational platitude, underscores a profound truth in the realm of leadership: If leaders fail to confront and consume their problems, those very problems will consume them. In this blog post, we will unpack this approach and discuss how leaders can digest challenges with grace and turn every adversity into a stepping stone towards fulfilling their divine purpose and leading effectively.


Understanding the Feast: What Does It Mean to "Eat Problems"?

To "eat problems for breakfast" is to approach the start of each day with a mindset geared towards proactive problem-solving and innovation. It signifies a leader's capacity to digest complexities, transforming them into opportunities for growth, learning, and leadership enhancement. This process is not merely about finding quick fixes but about fostering an environment where challenges are welcomed as catalysts for development and deepening spiritual and organizational alignment.


To "eat your problems" also means embracing each day with the resolve to face challenges head-on, employing a blend of intentionality, strategic thinking, and unwavering courage. It's about acknowledging the reality that problems ignored or avoided can grow into formidable obstacles that threaten to derail our leadership and the mission we are called to fulfill. A healthy fear—or more aptly, a reverence—of these consequences is essential, reminding us that our approach to problem-solving must be proactive, deliberate, and deeply rooted in our commitment.


If leaders fail to confront and consume their problems, those very problems will consume them.

The Power of Problem-Solving

Effective leaders recognize that problem-solving is not a burden but a gift—a power that demands to be wielded with both humility and confidence. It requires a belief in oneself and the conviction that, through faith and action, any obstacle can be overcome. Scripture reminds us that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). This verse not only encourages leaders to embrace their challenges but also to lean on their faith as a source of strength and guidance.


Leaders embarking on this journey must first seek divine guidance, approaching each challenge with prayer and meditation, asking for the wisdom to discern the nature of their problems. For this reason, a leader must never anxiously respond to a problem without first pausing to pray, reflect, and assess the situation. Problems do not wait for a proper time to arise, but they can wait for your proper response. This spiritual introspection also leads to clarity, enabling leaders to distinguish between problems that are theirs to solve and those that belong to others. Recognizing one's role—whether as a problem-solver, a supporter, or a guide—is crucial in navigating the complexities of leadership.


Problems do not wait for a proper time to arise, but they can wait for your proper response.

Navigating the Problem-Solving Pathway

As we navigate the complexities of leadership, recognizing when to employ specific problem-solving tools is key. Here are five strategies, accompanied by indicators that signal when they might be the most appropriate response:


  1. Effective Communication: In most cases, effective communication will always be the starting point due to the fact that most problems stem from misunderstandings, signaling a need for clearer dialogue or collective brainstorming of solutions. Open, compassionate communication can bridge gaps, align visions, and foster a unified approach to overcoming hurdles. Ask yourself, "What is misunderstood?"

  2. Resource Allocation: This approach is fitting when a problem is clearly defined but lacks the necessary resources (time, talent, treasure) for resolution. It’s about strategically distributing what's available to maximize impact and efficiency. Ask yourself, "What's needed, and who has it?"

  3. Continuous Learning and Adaptation: This is critical when facing new or evolving challenges. A leader's inability to effectively resolve a problem may be due to one's lack of knowledge in a particular area or because the situation causes for more agile leadership. Ask yourself, "What do I need to learn or know to solve this problem?" "How is our current infrastructure hindering resolution?"

  4. Empowerment and Delegation: Ideal when challenges are too vast for a single leader to manage or when they present an opportunity for team development. Delegating responsibilities not only lightens the leader's load but also builds trust and encourages growth among team members. Ask yourself, "Who is better equipped to lead this?"

  5. Strategic Retreat or Cancellation: When efforts no longer align with the organization's mission or prove fruitless after considerable investment, it's time to reconsider our engagement. This decision requires discerning when to cut losses to preserve resources for more fruitful endeavors. Ask yourself, "Are we better off without this?"


This spiritual introspection also leads to clarity, enabling leaders to distinguish between problems that are theirs to solve and those that belong to others.

Embodying the Solution: A Call to Leadership

Leaders must embody the solutions they seek, demonstrating through their actions that challenges are not roadblocks but stepping stones to greater purpose and impact. I invite leaders to see beyond the immediate turmoil, to envision a future where challenges are not merely overcome but transformed into testimonies of strength, resilience, and God's guidance.


In closing, let us remember that the ability to "eat problems for breakfast" is not just a skill but a manifestation of spiritual strength, a testament to the power of faith, and a call to action for leaders everywhere to pray, obey, and slay. As we face each day, let us do so with the conviction that no problem is too great and no challenge too daunting for those who lead with purpose, passion, and power.




 

Dr. Wanita Mercer, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Lead My Heart, an executive coaching and consulting company specializing in equipping executives and executive teams to live and lead with purpose, passion, and power. She has a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in organizational leadership, and she is certified in life coaching, executive coaching, change management, project management, executive management, corporate crisis management, and mental health ministry. She has over 15 years of experience as an international educator in the USA and China, motivational speaker, author, and civic leader. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.



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