How to reframe a challenge as an opportunity



The surge protector kept clicking off. Damn. This had never happened before. WTF?

Jenni and I had everything set up to print t-shirts live at a vegan festival and we weren’t getting any power. See, we need electricity to operate our flash dryer which cures the ink on the t-shirts. So… no heat, no show. I kept trying.

Click. @$!#&*!

I was already in a mood, because we had driven all the way to Long Beach to set up the day before (I’m a very ducks-in-a-row type). When we arrived on Festival Day, we were told we had to move our booth. Not an emergency, but a major annoyance. The festival organizers were experiencing some tough circumstances themselves, and as anyone who runs a major event knows, it’s not easy. Sometimes shit just happens.

Our day had started out easy enough. That morning, we had leisurely driven back down to Long Beach, drank our coffee, bought (me) some animal crackers at Walgreens so we could get some $5’s and $10’s for change (um, those ducks were late, ok?).

We arrived at the site ready to finish a last few setup details. We felt good. That’s when I casually asked, “Hey, do we have power?” and that’s precisely where the morning went what the British call tits up. I immediately went into what Jenni calls “Bossy Mode,” and she’s not wrong. I tend to handle stressful situations by turning into General Patton. “Move that table over there, Soldier!” The poor volunteer who helped us move probably wasn’t prepared to join the Army that day. But, she took me in stride and we got it done.

After taking many, many (many) deep breaths, I calmed myself down and took stock in what was going right.

We had someone to help us move our stuff.

We had our friends there with us, fellow exhibitors like Cowhugger, Threads For Love, Triple V, Vegan Power Co., Cocobella Creamery. Just their presence helped me feel better. The vegan ice cream didn’t hurt, either.

We were surrounded by amazing vegan food and beverages. Duh, right? Those Veggie Fam sandwiches are pretty happy-making in any situation.

We had (surprise!) friends visit us. Danny, our good friend from the olden times, and the fab duo Ted and Trang from Plant Alchemy.

I had a box of animal crackers just waiting for me somewhere.

So we dug in and both decided that we would not count the day as a failure, but as an opportunity. We gave it everything we had and we actually made some sales, despite not being able to print anything. We made connections. We made new friends. We helped other vendors sell their products (which is a Thing we typically do, but that day it felt even more empowering). We helped the festival sell some tees.

It could have been Pearl Harbor, but we did our best to make it a beach day in Maui. It wasn’t perfect, but we persevered. I think that’s really one of the biggest secrets to running your own business: Perseverance.

Challenges! We’re all going to have them. I can see that it’s really how you adapt and reframe those challenges as opportunities that make you successful. I know there will be more challenges coming our way. I’m learning (slowly) to meet them by first taking that deep breath and then imagining what I can do with it.

The other lesson I have learned is that ice cream solves a broad range of problems.

Have you had a challenge lately? How did you deal with it?

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

All images and text are © Sparky Firepants • Privacy Policy