The 3 Levels Of Problem

in Cultivating Clarity, Leverage the problem
Leverage the problem


“The deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation. You are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew. Seek, therefore, not to find out who you are, seek to determine who you want to be.” ~ Neal Donald Walsh

In our last post, we left Steve in a predicament. Despite wanting to make a significant transition in his career, he feels uncertain about starting over and leaving his comfortable lifestyle behind.

So what should Steve do?

Should he stay where he’s at and enjoy the perks of being a business manager with an international firm while earning a six-figure salary, or should he go with his gut and leave it all behind to pursue a new career in sport medicine?

And this leads me to ask another question.

Is Steve’s situation unique or does his circumstance reveal a common theme in all the problems we as humanity face? In other words, are there universal qualities that weave all our problems together? If this is true, then learning these universal themes could prove to be of great benefit for us.

The 3 Levels of Problem that Steve Faces:

  1. The External Problem: In this short story, Steve is twenty-something and single with no kids. His external problem is his job; he feels like it’s beginning to suck the life out of him.
  2. The Internal Problem: In story, the purpose of the external problem is to reveal an internal problem. Does the lead character have what it takes to save the day? And this is exactly what Steve is facing in his situation and why he’s been putting it off. His eternal problem is unearthing the demons he’s locked up within himself for a long time.

    As the oldest child, Steve grew up wanting to please his parents, especially his dad. Steve believed that his dad’s love for him was based on him excelling in school and in the business world. His dad’s love and approval were critical to him; it influenced his life choices to this point.

    This is the key reason why Steve dreads the thought of having a conversation with his dad about this matter. What could he say to his parents, knowing his dad was so proud and pleased with him that he studied and mastered in International Business Management? Steve knew that his dad regularly boasted to his friends and colleagues about his son’s successes in school and in the business world.

    And then there was that relentless voice in the back of his head that kept whispering, “What if you fail?”

    “What if you don’t have what it takes to succeed in this new world of sport medicine? What if starting up a clinic that works with young athletes doesn’t take off? What if you go bankrupt? What will your dad say then?”

  3. The Philosophical or Global Problem: In story, there is always something bigger going on beneath the surface. Whether it’s in Star Wars, The Hunger Games, or David and Goliath, there lies the global problem of good vs evil.

    We all know it.

    We all sense it.

    But the question still persists: What will you do?

    If fear runs it course, meaning you believe you’re not up to the task, you will run; you will hide; you will find a way to avoid the issue at hand. In other words, you’ll create reasons (excuses) to why it can’t be done.

    However, if you harness your courage and address the demons within, you’ll move forward, maybe ever so slowly, to face your foe with all the uncertainty that comes with traveling the road less taken.

    Ultimately, the philosophical or global problem leaves us with a choice: Who do I desire to be?

Now back to our present story…

Will Steve face his fears and chart a new course for his life, or will he remain where he’s at and live a life of pleasing in order to feel worthy of love and connection?

Well, to be honest, that’s not my story to tell. This is a decision that Steve is going to have to make, because he, like all of us, has to make a choice about how he wants his story to play out.

Therefore, today as you stand at the crossroads of your life, what external problem are you facing that is uncovering an internal problem within you that seeks to be resolved?  And if you were to face this problem and not run from it, who would be blessed as a result of your courageous choice?

Now as you turn and face your problem, remember the words of Canadian singer/songwriter, Stephen Fearing:

It’s what we can’t face that destroys us
What we can’t feel makes us bleed
Unbind your secret shadow
Find the brilliance you need

Until next time…
Be You. Be Unitas.



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