I have a confession to make. It may be that you can relate to it. Last week I allowed a couple of problems to become bigger than me. I found myself in a ditch of my own making. Although my hope was rapidly disappearing, fortunately I hadn’t quite lost sight of the fact that problems can be solved
I realised that I needed a change of perspective. In my search for answers, I listened to a podcast by John Maxwell. The advice on successful problem solving was so practical that I want to make it the focus of today’s blog.
Problems can get on top of you if you allow them to. Anxiety levels can rise, and fear can get a grip. When that happens we can become paralysed, unable to solve the problem, which helps no-one. However, our minds are brilliantly designed to problem solve and so it is crucial to gain perspective as you approach any problem. The way you tackle and engage problems determines your success in solving them. As a leader your leadership influence and skill are determined by your ability to problem solve.
\”You don\’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.\” Edward Louis Cole
Here is a key to problem solving: staying still, not moving, not thinking into what is going on will mean that you become overwhelmed by it. Movement of whatever kind can change the view.
Truth About Problems
- Problems are everywhere. Everyone has them. The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.
- Problems don’t disappear if they are ignored.
- Our perspective, not the problem itself, determines our success or failure. The right perspective means you understand that problems can be solved, that large as they seem they are not permanent, that they will challenge and stretch you.
- Problems you respond to correctly will advance you.
- Some days will just be difficult and challenging.
The origin of the word “problem” contains the hope for how to approach it. It comes from the Greek pro-balein which means to throw forward. To me, this has within it the idea of throwing up a question which has the potential to move you forward. In a way the opportunity to move forward is wrapped up in a problem to solve.
How then do we look at solving problems?
An Approach to Problem Solving
- Define your problem. Are you clear what it is you are looking to solve? A clearly defined problem is already halfway to being solved.
- Keep control of your emotions. Emotions are often attached to the way you look at problems. If you can stay objective as you look at your problem, then you are more likely to solve it. If you sense your emotions rising, take a break, take a walk, go and do something else and come back to it.
- Don’t give up. Problems arise from the plans you make. They are the challenges on the way. The path you embark on should be started for the right reasons, if you start for the right reason then continue. Let your purpose drive you forward.
- Refocus on your task. Your problem must be faced if it is to be solved. Be present, focus, and don’t allow yourself to be distracted.
- Beware the enemy. At times you are your own worst enemy. There will always be others who don’t want you to succeed, however often you are sabotaged from within. Make sure you are looking at the problem with a view that it can be solved. It may be challenging and take a little time, but it can be done.
- Finally, remember you need to rethink your strategy. Don’t wait for something to go wrong. Review and reframe – our world is constantly changing, so think, “can I do this a different way?”
“If you have a problem, do what you can where you are with what you have.” Teddy Roosevelt
Whatever you do, don’t stand still! I am off to climb out of the ditch I allowed the problem to put me in.
PS. A milestone was reached this weekend as a test copy of my book dropped through the letterbox. I will keep you posted as to how you can get your copy all being well next week.