Do You Promote Problem #2?


We all have our list of problems, concerns or issues in life. Usually there is one problem that is of greater concern than the others. Naturally, this issue typically gets more of our attention, energy, and emotions. As a result, this problem can be anything from a distraction to a full-time job.

When “Problem Number One” is getting all this attention in our brain, “Problem Number Two” may or may not get much attention. Many people will even be so focused on their biggest problem that all others are not considered that important.

List of ProblemsI’ve seen this in people that have lives of great misfortune and those that have very fortunate lives. What Problem Number One is from person to person can be very different. Yet, Problem Number One usually gets the bulk of our attention UNTIL it is solved or goes away in some manner.

So what happens then? Most people simply promote Problem Number Two. It was not worthy of as much worry or stress before but now, as the new Number One, it is a focus.

It is unlikely that each Problem Number One is as bad as all the problems before. However, many people choose to react to every Problem Number One as a crisis or disaster. Sometimes they are, but usually this is just an attitude.

I believe that life is not as much about what happens to us, but what we do with what happens to us. Our list of troubles will never be empty and we will have a Problem Number One, whether we admit it or not.

How we treat our worst concern is one thing that defines much of our time on this planet. You likely will always have a Problem Number One. If you solve it, Number Two gets promoted. This is not that different from shampoo directions, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat.” The cycle continues.

I believe that people that operate in perpetual crisis mode are typically not in perpetual crisis. They just function this way and always need to use Problem Number One as an excuse for their behavior. “It’s Not My Fault!” they yell. “It’s not me, it’s this problem,” or “You are to blame for not fixing my problem, I don’t know what I’ll do.” Some, unfortunately, will focus on problems as the reason that others must help them or, at the least, pay attention to them.

Likewise, the emotionally stable and successful people, in life and business, typically have a better handle on their attitude about the problems on their list. They are not defined by their problems and don’t use them as excuses. Running from crisis to crisis is counter productive and they know this. Problems are what happens to them, not what defines them every day.

Interestingly, how we handle, or fail to handle, our problems is fundamentally a communication problem with ourselves. If we don’t like how we deal with our problems, we can develop better communication skills with ourself. Automatic thoughts can be intercepted and perspective considered. With new views of our problems, they always look different. When they look different, we can choose to respond differently.

Perspectives are hard, especially if we are fixated on our own. They are also contagious. How you deal with problems may be similar to how those around you approach them. But perspectives are not permanent, they just require effort and appropriate consideration.

It is not that we promote Problem Number Two. We all do that. It is how we respond each time to our problems that defines much of our life.


Glenn S. Phillips is the author of Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. His website,, will lead you to more information about effective communication training, risk assessments and genuinely helpful tips. You can email Glenn directly at

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About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.