"A problem well stated is a problem half solved." --Charles Franklin Kettering
One of the biggest tasks we have in our personal and professional lives is problem solving. Whether it is a big issue we find ourselves dealing with or just a small one, using a few key steps will help you to focus as you lean into solving whatever issue you may be facing.
Identify the Core - Any problem that enters our sphere of life can create all sorts of ripples around it. So, the first step in solving it, is to find the core or "root" of the issue. All of the "ripples" can not only distract us mentally from finding the solution, but, emotionally as well. Let's say someone has a habit of running late all the time and doesn't see it as a problem. However, when others have to wait on them and get agitated with them easily, or when they miss out on something because they were late to the meeting or they start having relationship issues because of it, then they may see they have a problem, but, if they focus on any one ripple and don't get to the root of the issue, they may fix a ripple, but the rest of the issues may still be there. Whatever problem you are having, search through all the things around it to find the core of the problem.
Multiple Choice - There is no one way to fix a problem. Once you see what the core of your problem is, start thinking of different ways you can fix the problem; any and all different ways, even the outlandish ones. If you need to, write them down. Once you see a few choices on how to remedy the issue, it will help you to "relax" some of the stress so that you can work through scenarios more easily. Let's say the person who is chronically late finally realizes that his or her life would be much easier if he/she were on time! So, how do they accomplish that? There are so many things you can do to be more on time and efficient. You can change your alarm clock, plan better the day before, make lists, tackle things right away and many other things to help a person learn to be on time. Then, the next step helps you to figure out which way may work the best.
Run "Worst Case" - Now you have a list of possible solutions to your problem. Take each solution one by one and go over what ways this solution will help your problem and what ways it may not help. Run the worst possible outcome that could happen and see if it is worth the risk to try to solve your problem with that solution. Continue with all the solutions you came up with, then put into effect the one with the LEAST "worst case scenario" and start there to see if it works. If it doesn't, move on to the next solution, and on down the line until you find the answer. Sounds easy, right? Well, in theory it is....in reality it can be a lot more difficult. Your insecurities will come into play on some solutions, so you need to do your best to look past those. You will have to try to be objective when solving a problem, which can also be difficult and if you are working with a team, your solution may not be the best for everyone concerned, so that may add another dimension to your issue you didn't consider. But, don't give up!
Give it Your Best Shot - With all problem solving, we may not be able to come up with the best possible solution needed. Sometimes we need to consult someone else who is an expert with that particular issue or work with others to brainstorm a solution that works for everyone. No matter what outcome you may have in trying to solve a problem, if you give it your best shot at trying to solve it one way or another, then you will know you did all you could. Some problems we can't have a hand in solving completely on our own. You need to be able to recognize when a problem may not be solved by you and let someone else handle it. Sometimes this can hurt our pride, but, it's actually a strength to recognize when you may be out of your element and can see where someone else may be able to help better than you.
Solving a problem is a process. Generally speaking, most problems aren't easily solved with simple solutions after a moment of thinking. Complex problems generally need complex solutions and may take a lot of trial and error before you find the best answer to the problem. In some cases, you can work and rework all of the above steps only to find that someone else is better equipped to solve the problem. In that case, you still have found the solution, believe it or not. Maybe not the solution you expected or even wanted, but a solution none the less. So don't be afraid to troubleshoot a problem. You may find the puzzle piece that works, or, find the right person to finish the puzzle for you!
Until Next Time!
Jen Lush--Associate Broker and Problem Solver Photo Credit: Prateek Katyal