Every problem is a gift – without problems we would not grow.  —Anthony Robbins

I awoke this morning with a collection of questions, decisions, and challenges racing through my head. Working down this mental list, my mind jumped through a set of hoops seeking answers, searching for ways to ease the tension of each particular issue. Tossing left and right, I sought to solve everything in a state somewhere between delightfully dreaming and nauseatingly awake. It was, after all, about 3am.

After about 45 minutes of this circular chase of semi-sleep, issue, decision, solution, and counter-point, I found myself smiling in the dark. No, I hadn’t suddenly solved every problem, answered every question, or made every decision. Nor had I fallen back asleep into a pleasant dream that involved a beach and a little umbrella in my drink. I realized that this was me experiencing life in all of its gloriously inopportune timing, beautifully imperfect messiness, and fantastically disruptive mystery.

I was reminded that I was very much alive and all of my problems, real and imagined, were uniquely mine, daring me to solve them, and reflections of a very full existence.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled, Times When We Have to Walk Alone. The point of that post was that it can be very lonely when we find ourselves facing a problem and that we need to recognize those moments as normal and temporary. Waking up this morning, it became clear that the corollary to that message is that our challenges are uniquely ours and that they happen to exist on the opposite side of the coin from those opportunities that are also uniquely ours. To have problems, issues, and concerns, is to be alive and it creates the opportunity to prevail, to survive, and ultimately to thrive.

As I write this, my family lies asleep in the rooms above. Perhaps they are dreaming of the beach or experiencing a nightmare reflective of some issue. To experience the fears and doubts as well as the hopes and dreams is to be alive. It is the amazing reflection of life’s imperfection and reminds us that there cannot be one without the other. Our problems are by-products of our opportunities and vice versa; for in the opportunity to exist and to pursue our dreams, we must solve life’s puzzles. If there is no problem to be solved, there is no upside opportunity.

A recent LinkedIn post reminded me of the problem-opportunity conundrum. The author described the challenges, heartbreak, and distress along his path to building a successful company. At this stage in his life, people sometimes say: “It must be nice.” “You don’t want this,” he replies as he walks them through the dark nights and his arrival to something more. Without the dark nights, there is no arrival. Without the issues, there is nothing to solve and no opportunity to be had. To have no challenges is to not be alive.

Today, consider the challenges that are uniquely yours. The hurts, barriers, problems, and decisions that seem to be holding you back. Then, let your mind wander to what might lie on the other side of those issues. What if you solve the puzzle? What if you prevail? What if you endure? When you move through and past your barriers, you win. When you see the dark night for what it is, a step closer to a bright dawn, you begin to recognize that your problems are simply the flip side of a coin that also holds your opportunities. When you quit or retreat, you diminish yourself, and your possibility.

As for me, the birds are now awake and chirping while my grandson, just two weeks old, is sleeping in my arms. Even a somewhat sleepless night brings priceless opportunity. The day is upon you and it is uniquely yours.