6 Approaches to Problem Solving (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 336)
“A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”
— C.S. Lewis
We always look for the easy fix, that one single, simple little switch, change or stroke of luck that will completely erase, solve or reverse a problem. Very few things work like this in life, unfortunately. In fact, nothing worthwhile works this way. Problems are meant to be solved and sometimes the solution is one hundred small steps at a time in the right direction. The first step to solving a problem is to pay attention to how we view the problem to begin with and from there we can spend our time, energy, resources, and ability to crafting a good solution, implementing it, and waiting for both lessons and good results.
Here are 6 approaches we often take to problem solving and how to reverse them so they work in our favor:
1. Stop viewing setbacks as the end of the world.
When you are too busy focusing on the setbacks and the roadblocks and the mistakes, you are eventually going to get stuck and getting stuck for many people leads to frustration which then leads to completely giving up on your goals. Do not expect to accomplish anything worthwhile without at least one obstacle for which you have to fight through and overcome. Setbacks are not the end of the world. If you view a setback as the end of the world, you are entirely missing the point. Learn to analyze your mistakes, objectively look at your failures, learn the lessons and keep moving.
2. Stop looking for an easy way out of your problems.
Many times, when we fail or we find ourselves facing an obstacle that seems insurmountable, we look for the quickest and easiest way to get out. When we don’t find that quick and easy way out, we begin to panic and worry. And the result of panic and worry oftentimes is that more things start to go wrong than was originally going wrong in the first place. Panic and worry compound the one problem into three or five or ten problems. When we’re faced with a difficult proposition, sometimes we need to sit with it for a while. Some problems cannot be solved in one hour. Instead of spending time looking for an easy way out, use your time and energy to look for a solution. Every problem seems difficult until a solution is found.
3. Stop depending on someone to rescue you.
We would all love to have a good friend or family member who comes riding in on a shining white horse to deliver us from every adversity we face. But very few people have that and if we did, most of us would not be as strong as we are and would not push through to accomplish what we have. You cannot and should not look for someone to rescue you or expect for someone to use their time to pull you out of every mud puddle you find yourself in. It is in those times when you don’t have anyone to lean on that you have to decide to pull it together and turn it around on your own. Character, integrity, and strength are built this way and it lasts longer when you have to depend on yourself.
4. Stop refusing legitimate and sincere help.
Some people genuinely don’t want help when they encounter a problem for a variety of reasons. Too many people involved make the problem worse. Too many voices and noises cause one to lose a sense of individuality and even a solid train of thought. However, other people refuse help as a result of pride. They don’t want to be seen as the one who needed assistance or be thought of as the weak one. Some of this is noble and honest because most of us know that we can pull through on our own with a little thought and effort. However, there is help in the world and there are people in the world who are happy to help. You need to be able to discern when someone is trying to take advantage of you and when someone is genuinely trying to help you. The person who is genuinely trying to help you will not come across as arrogant or a know-it-all; they will not try to take credit for anything; they will only help you in the best possible way. This is help you need to receive.
5. Stop busying yourself with other projects to the neglect of the problem.
We as humans are good for this. If we find ourselves in a pickle, instead of dealing with it and spending our time, energy and resources actually trying to get out of the tough spot, we turn our attention to doing other things. Most of the other things we do are essentially unimportant and unnecessary. They don’t help solve the problem and sometimes they compound the problem. And this is why so many problems exist and persist because we waste time doing everything else and spend no time taking care of the big elephant in the room or in our relationships or on our agendas.
6. Stop making excuses for the problems.
One of the hardest things for us as humans to do is to take responsibility for our mistakes. If you caused the problem or if you facilitated the problem, a simple honest admittance of your failure can go a long way in actually reaching a solution. If you’re late, admit that you hit snooze one too many times and overslept, not that your car wouldn’t start or your kid spilled milk on his clothes. Failure is the perfect opportunity for you to open the floor up for feedback and suggestions on how you can do better, more efficiently, more effectively the next time around.
“Problems are meant to be solved, but unfortunately, a lot of people choose to complain, worry, and cry about them.”
— Edmond Mbiaka