Herb Drinkwater, an old friend and the former mayor of my hometown Scottsdale, taught me something about the power of words. Herb never saw a problem to solve…he only saw challenges to overcome.

We in the Society of Exchange Counselors like to see ourselves as problem solvers…we adhere to a philosophy that says that “Real Estate is a People Business” and that “there are no problem properties, only problem ownership situations.” We know a zillion formulas to solve problems and create opportunity.

But, perhaps there is a different, more powerful way to say the same thing…that might even have a more powerful impact on the results of our efforts.

No one likes problems…they scare us. They put us in a defensive mode and sometimes stifle our creativity in seeking solutions. Problems often make us think negatively mainly because it’s such a negative word. We all have a tendency to hide from our problems. When was the last time you really enjoyed a conversation with someone talking about his or her problems?

Now, most everyone likes a challenge…be it a competitive game, a wager among friends, a mountain to climb or figuring out the pieces of a real estate puzzle.

Think about your first reaction when I come up to you and say I want to talk about a problem I have…

Now think about that same reaction when I ask you to visit with me about a challenge I would like to share with you…

My guess is that we will be at the bar talking about your challenge a lot faster than we’ll be sitting around a campfire and chatting about your problem.

Challenges are fun…problems are like a visit to the dentist. I have to go but don’t ask me to enjoy the trip.

If real estate is truly a people business, then aren’t all the people problems associated with real estate ownership really just challenges to overcome?

I love challenges…I really don’t like problems. Challenges, if I work hard and smart, have rewards for victory. Problems never seem to go away…even if I think I have solved the problem it always seems to lurk in the shadows of my mind somewhere. If I fail to achieve victory in facing a challenge, I have the reward of having given it my best shot and the challenge to find another solution that will work. If I fail to solve a problem, what do I have but a problem that still exists?

So, next time you are counseling a client that faces a real estate “problem”, turn it into a “challenge.” Try it with your own “problems”, too.

Lemons into lemonade anyone?

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