Being alive means we have and will have problems.
And if we’re going to be confronted with problems the rest of our lives, then becoming good at facing and solving problems seems to me to be a worthy endeavor.
Before I jump into my list, allow me to share a few of my thoughts ABOUT problems.
I believe there is almost always more than one solution to any problem. And if you think there’s only one, you will be significantly limiting yourself.
I also think that in business, you don’t really have problems, you have expenses. This assumes that every problem in business can be solved. It’s just going to cost time, energy and/or money to solve it. Not so with all personal problems. Many of them cannot be solved with money alone.
Our attitude toward problems and problem-solving is probably as important, if not more important, than our skills or knowledge in solving them. How we approach our problems is critical.
If we’re angry about having the problem, it’s going to be a lot harder to solve. Complaining about why we have the problem takes time and energy away from SOLVING the problem. What we resist tends to persist.
And remember that problems can be, and often are, good things. We learn from them. We create or discover opportunities that wouldn’t be realized without working through them. If there were no problems to solve, we would not be necessary.
That said, here are my Top Ten Ways to Solve Problems:
1. Define or re-define the problem.
Charles Kettering said, “A problem clearly stated is a problem half-solved.” The way we define the problem has a lot to do with how we approach the solution. Many times a re-definition will work wonders on opening the possibilities.
2. Focus on the SOLUTION, not the problem.
Otherwise, we may just be worrying and making the problem bigger than it really is. Believe that it can be solved and stay centered upon the way to solve it.
3. Detach from the problem.
Many times we are too close and too emotionally involved to a problem to have a good perspective. Try looking at it like it was someone else’s problem. Take a larger view and you will likely find more possibilities.
4. Ask an expert or someone with experience.
Very few problems we face are brand new. Usually they have been solved by someone else, so don’t underestimate the value of someone with the right expertise and knowledge.
5. Access the knowledge and the skills necessary.
Determine what you need to know and the skills that need to be harnessed to get the job done. And if you don’t know what they are, find out.
Practice green light thinking with your mastermind team. Generate as many ideas as you can.
7. Use IWWCW.
That stands for “In What Ways Can We”. And it implies there is more than one tactic, strategy or action you can take. It will expand your thinking and that of others involved.
8. Don’t try to solve the problem without the knowledge, skills and information you need.
If you can delay decisions and actions until these things are determined and acquired, that’s usually the best thing to do. It also helps to sleep on it. Our subconscious mind often solves problems in our sleep. Just be sure you are tactically delaying things and not procrastinating or avoiding.
9. Look for ways to simplify the challenge and the potential solutions.
Often we complicate things more than we need. And many times the simplest solution is the best.
10. When possible, solve problems before they happen.
It’s much easier than dealing with it in crisis. Have contingency plans. Think about things that could happen and what action you will take if it does. This is not negative thinking. If you live in an earthquake zone or tornado area, what precautions can you take to be well prepared?
The more we accept our problems and the better we get at solving them, the more confidence we develop. In doing so, we increase our value in the marketplace because we are known for having a cool, thoughtful and logical approach to understanding and solving problems.
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