There’s a classic Zen tale about an old farmer and the Buddha.

Once a farmer went to the Buddha for help with his problems. Farming was difficult. If it wasn’t bad weather, then the bugs damaged his crops. And his family caused him all kinds of heartache and frustration, too. He loved his wife, but she often didn’t do what he wanted her to do. And his children weren’t turning out as he had expected either. Life was always throwing something his way.   

The Buddha listened to the farmer’s tale of woe, and then responded, “I’m sorry sir, but I can’t help you.”

The farmer was indignant. “What do you mean you can’t help me? You’re supposed to be a great spiritual leader!”

The Buddha answered, “You must understand…all human beings have eighty-three problems. You may be able to solve a few of them, but new ones will soon appear in their place. So you’ll still have eighty-three problems.”

“But then what good are you?” gasped the farmer.

“Well, I can’t help you with your eighty-three problems, but I might be able to help you with the eighty-forth problem.”

“What’s that?”

“The eighty-forth problem is the idea that you shouldn’t have any problems.”

Problems, problems…we do seem to have eighty-three problems most of the time! I’ve got a slew of them right now, and they have the darndest whack-a-mole quality – as soon as I get rid of one another one pops up in its place. A small business is a constant source of problems, large and small.

I read an interview in Inc Magazine recently in which the CEO of a small company talked about this fact of life. He said that his business has had countless problems, and its growth has most often come in response to them. As he fixes one problem after another, the business runs more tightly, more smoothly, and more successfully. He’s learned to love the process.

Learning to love your problems…or at least to not hate them. I can work on that.