Happy Monday, or whatever Monday you choose.
The Oxford dictionary defines a problem as “A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.” It explains “regard” is to think about something in a specified way. Perception plays a significant role in what we determine to be a problem. I conducted some training exercises at work, and we gained some insight into issues. Some problems are not our problems. They are only problems because of our way of thinking about them. Just like a fire, if we do not provide oxygen to the problem, it will be extinguished. In my training, we also must define the problem before dealing with it. Sometimes we do not know the problem we are trying to solve and must dig deeper to describe it.
But, and there is always a but – I don’t have time to figure things out. Problems and challenges are coming at me so quickly. I am just trying to keep my head above water. I counter with, how much time do you spend on solving the wrong problem? I am very guilty of rushing into things headlong without asking why. If I had taken a moment to define the perceived problem, I would have saved myself and others time and energy. It is important to note where you direct your energy. If you feed a problem too much oxygen, it can quickly incinerate whatever is around it.
Take a deep breath. Give yourself a little time to gain perspective. Attacking problems in a methodical manner increases your chance of success. Charles Kettering noted that “a problem well-stated is half-solved.” Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Breaking something down into smaller parts makes it less daunting. I have to get rid of one box is less intimidating than I have to clear out my garage. How do you climb a mountain? You have to get gear and maybe a guide, but you first need to take a step.
What’s next? Get started. I have been guilty of sticking my head in the sand, trying to avoid my problems. When you face them head-on, you realize they were not insurmountable. There are significant problems currently being solved, such as homelessness. The biggest part of the resolution is the mindset. Is there a different way of looking at the problem? Are you trying to answer the right question? Once you have defined your mission take that first step.