True leaders address the real problem

publication date: Feb 2, 2021
author/source: Emilia Stypulkowska

Over the last week I had the pleasure of attending a 5-day virtual livestream event by Tony Robbins.

Like any other public figure or leader, he has faced his share of criticism. But, because he manages 12 companies, has a long-standing happy marriage, a net-worth of $500M, has authored more than 8 books and is physically fit at the age of 60 – I’m happy to set aside any criticism of him in order to learn anything I can from what he’s been able to accomplish.

I wanted to share with you the most valuable thing I learned last week. Tony teaches that the problem is not the problem.

What does this mean?

We often repeat that we can’t (insert goal of choice) because we are too tired, we don’t have enough time, and/or we don’t have the money we need to achieve what we desire.

But if the problem is that you’re too tired, then getting enough sleep would help. If the problem is that you don’t have time, well, a province-wide shutdown might have helped with that. And on that note, most of us have fewer things to spend money on these days too!

So if we accept the idea that what we see as our problem isn’t actually the real problem, we free our mind up to figure out what the actual problem is and then find creative solutions.

I can give you a simple example of this. For a few weeks after celebrating Christmas, I was feeling the post-holiday slump. I felt as though I didn’t have any energy and I was waking up later to try and restore it - sacrificing my workouts to get some more sleep.

When I met with my naturopath, I said, “I think I have low iron – I just don’t have the energy to cook, eat better, and work out.”

She replied, “Just stop eating sugar and you will feel better.”

I had been so focused on one potential problem, that I didn’t see what else could be contributing to my experience. I stopped eating sugar the very next day, and I was able to start waking up earlier again (without going to bed earlier) and doing yoga in the morning – feeling more energized and more clear than I had with 8 full hours of sleep.

With this example in mind, as a leader – ask yourself – what is the problem I am convinced that my organization has? If I set aside this problem, can I see something else that is contributing? Make sure that the problem you are fixated on, isn’t blocking your view of underlying or contributing problems.

If you can build this powerful habit of thinking – you can open yourself up to infinite possibilities and create much needed change for your organization and beyond.

Emilia Stypulkowska helps people take control of their careers by helping them navigate challenges, restore their energy, and land their dream job. She can be reached at

Cover image photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash

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