“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”Albert Einstein
A Problem isn’t just a problem itself. It’s also the baggage we stack onto the problem. How we think, perceive and what we believe changes how the problem looks. (If a problem was like a sweater we wear, our thoughts, beliefs about the problem would be us wearing 10+ extra sweaters on top.)
Depending on how much stuff we pile on top of our problems, the heavier it becomes. (Think of it like an exponential: Problem^x)
But by stripping away everything but the original issue, we can more easily tackle it and not let it get the best of us.
Getting to the essence of a problem starts with understanding it. Asking questions is a great way to do this. It’s difficult to see something when you don’t have a full picture of what it is. Questions get to the heart of the issue.
Is the problem something within my control? Can I do something about it? (Sometimes problems are bigger than we are (i.e. changing the weather) and are better let go.)
What is the problem exactly? How many pages can I write about the problem? Can I describe it in a few sentences? Can I describe it in the size of a tweet? Can I describe the essence of the issue in one sentence?
What’s contributing to the problem? Is something else I’m doing (or not doing) making the problem (seem/become) bigger than it should be?
Who can help me with this problem? Who has found a way past this trouble before? Are there any books or resources I can use to solve this? (Help can come from anywhere, not just people we know.)
How can I use this problem to my advantage?
We can also look out for is negative or unhelpful feedback loops. Meaning situations where I can’t do X because of Y I can’t do Y because of Z and I can’t do z because of X. We’ve thought ourselves into a corner. Nothing useful happens when you are stuck sitting in the negative corner. To break the cycle, we need to find a different way to approach the issue. The best way I’ve found to do this is to ask a friend — ideally someone who you admire or you consider smarter than you. If we’re trapped in our perspective, then we can seek someone else’s (or multiple people).
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #828