Lillian had a beautiful pearl necklace and decided to wear it to a fancy function that she was attending. That night, she met a man who, upon admiring her necklace, commented, “You know, that necklace was made from a bunch of problems.”
Aghast, Lillian replied, “Problems? What do you mean… problems?” Smiling, the man said, “I’m a marine biologist, and each one of those pearls were once a problem that was solved by an oyster.”
“Well, you certainly have my attention,” said Lillian. “Please, tell me more.”
The biologist continued, “An oyster has two shells, and each shell has a protective layer called a mantle that protects the vital organs of the oyster. When an irritant, like a piece of sand or some other small object, comes between the mantle and the shell, the oyster produces a protective coating known as nacre to help reduce the irritation.
In reality, the oyster works with the irritant – or what we might call a problem – by covering it with many layers of nacre. Then, in time, voila! You have a pearl. Therefore, each one of your pearls was once a problem!”
How often are we faced with an irritant or a problem, yet fight against it, instead of trying to find a way to work with it to transform it into something beneficial? Sometimes the challenge is small; sometimes it’s large. But, perhaps, by taking a different viewpoint, there is a way to make that challenge work for you.
Of course, that may mean that you have to change the way you’re doing something or how you want to do something … and change is tough. It’s been said that sometimes when a person is confronted with a change to their opinions, actions, or beliefs that the feelings associated with that change can be equivalent to those of torture.
While that may appear to be a bit extreme, perhaps it’s really not. How hard is it to get someone to change their mind about something trivial, let alone get a person change their actions or beliefs? How hard is it for you to make changes?
Change can be a problem. Any challenge or issue that you view as being negative can be troublesome. But, perhaps, like the oyster that doesn’t spit up or choke on the irritant when it falls into its shell, you can choose to embrace the problem. You can learn to embrace the irritant … and work with it.
I can honestly tell you that I have relied on the lesson from the oyster many times when I have had to deal with problems.
As an entrepreneur, I have faced many roadblocks and have had to deal with countless changes, interruptions and challenges that, on first glance, appeared to be insurmountable. However, when I chose to view an obstacle as an opportunity to try a new approach or look at an issue differently, most of the time, I eventually found something good in what I, at first, perceived to be bad.
Perhaps this week, should you be faced with a problem or situation, you will think about the oyster and, despite the initial feelings of anger, resentment or fear, choose to work with the “irritation” to see if you can transform it into a jewel.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them. – Albert Einstein
Bob Garner is a successful business person, author and inspiring keynote storyteller who delivers presentations for Fortune 1000 corporations on personal and professional development, worldwide. His radio program, “A Mindful Moment,” is heard every Monday during the 8:00 am hour on American General Media Inspiring Talk Radio 920AM KVEC.
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