How do you go about solving problems?
There are lots of problem solving models around that can be used in the workplace. However, for many of the problems that we encounter at work (personality clashes, lack of sales, non-cooperation between colleagues) and at home (which school to send the children to, what to do with a depressed relative, how to balance the family budget with increasing costs), we often end up doing the following:
- Worrying about them endlessly.
- Trying to think our way out of the problem, but ending up going around in circles.
- Losing sleep, laying awake at night with 100s of thoughts running through our heads.
- Discussing and debating with others different solutions.
- We might even get so stuck in the problem that we resist all attempts of finding alternative ways of looking at it!!
Does this sound familiar? I think that we all do this from time to time. It seems to be part of the human condition. But there is an alternative way….
‘There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.'
What do I mean by raising our life condition? If you look at the list of things we normally do when we face a problem, we end up in a very low life state of worry, anxiety, sleeplessness and even helplessness. We are not in the best possible state to make a decision. However, if we take action to be in the best possible state we can end up making wise decisions. In fact, when we raise our life condition, several things can happen:
- You find that the problem disappears! Honestly, this does sometimes happen, especially if the problem was an interpersonal one.
- We gain a new perspective on it. This either leads us to feel differently about the problem (perhaps it now doesn't seem such an issue) or we suddenly see a solution to it that had not been apparent before.
- You gain the wisdom to instinctively know what to do. Having written a book called, ‘Master Your Inner Critic, Release Your Inner Wisdom', I can tell you that when I am in a high life state and face a decision or problem, I instinctively know what to do, there is no worry, doubt or guilt in making it.
- Even if the problem still exists you are in a higher life state to face the problem and to enjoy life while still having the problem!
‘Some people think only intellect counts: knowing how to solve problems, knowing how to get by, knowing how to identify an advantage and seize it. But the functions of intellect are insufficient without courage, love, friendship, compassion and empathy.'
There are many different ways of doing this, and it is about finding the right one or few that work for you. It can be useful to have more than one technique, so if one does not work or is not available on a certain day, you have other things to turn to and use.
- Use the techniques that are in my book, as there are a range of techniques to not only master your inner critic, but also to manage your mood and support yourself. Click here or email email@example.com if you want to purchase a copy from me.
- See the back issues of Inspire (there are seven years of them!), for more ideas and techniques to use, click here.
- Meditate, chant or use mindfulness. Neuroscientists are now proving what many Buddhists and meditation practitioners have known for centuries that meditation and mindfulness can help you to change the state of your mind. Click here for a three minute meditation (scroll down the page on the site). I particularly like what he says as he guides you through the process.
- See a counsellor or coach to work through and transform your inner life, your thoughts, beliefs, and the impact this has on how you feel and behave. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information about my free coaching audit or click here for more details.
- Take daily actions to master your mind and manage your mood. See my free January webinar recording for more ideas about how to do this: click here.
‘Fear less, hope more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.'
When we face a major problem at work or at home, we are often working with others to solve it. There is often a crisis or tension around solving the problem, or even blame as to who caused it. When we are in crisis mode our brain goes into ‘threat' response and we are then not in the best possible state to creatively solve problems (email email@example.com for handout about the threat response). So sometimes it is necessary to change the state of others so that they can all bring the best of themselves to solve a problem, as well as creating an environment where they feel unfettered and unrestrictive, so that they can be creative and feel free to explore ideas, without being judged.
There are various ways of doing this and it will depend on your position in the group, and the rapport you have with others:
- Talk to the other people about the ‘threat' response and the fact that our brains are not in the best possible state to solve the problem, and we need to do something to change this.
- Get the group or individuals to think back to previous problems that they have successfully solved, even if the problem was quite different. This starts to get the brain to focus on positives, and start to change the way in which people are thinking and feeling.
- Encourage them to think about the outcome they want, even create a ‘well formed outcome' (See the January edition of Inspire, for more information, click here) which will feel more motivating than getting bogged down in a problem mindset.
- Use problem solving strategies that help you to think differently about the situation, e.g.:
- The Other Person Method – how would X or Y approach this problem? You could even do the exercise from my book of ‘Stepping Into Your Virtual Mentor's Shoes' (see pages 45 to 50).
- The Reverse Method – this is expounded by Edward DeBono. Take the problem and ask the reverse question, e.g. we need more sales, how would we go about making less sales or even losing sales, or we don't have enough money for a holiday, ask what are all the ways in which we could squander the money we do have! Then take the answers and switch them around into solutions.
- The Earl Nightingale Method – I read these in one of Michael Neill's coaching tips, you can Google Earl Nightingale and find who he is! Force yourself to write down 20 answers to your question, then do this each day for two more days. By the end of it you will have identified one or more possible solutions.
- Walk into the future – this is also another way of gaining a new perspective on a problem, see the final chapter in my book for this very powerful exercise (see pages 227 to 230).
‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.'