Saturday, October 31, 2015

Solve It Now

What happens to little problems that are left alone?

They get bigger. They turn more complicated. They grow nasty roots. They require even larger interventions.

The time to solve that problem is now.

If you let a problem go long enough you just get a bigger problem.

And that's not what you want.

The time to solve that problem is when?  Now!

-- Doug Smith


Friday, October 30, 2015

Continuing Your Education

What good is a problem if we can't learn from it?

I think we can learn from any problem. In fact, one of the best benefits to centered problem solving is the willingness to learn and grow in the face of difficulty and challenge. We might not pick problems as our favorite way to learn, but they do provide that opportunity.

Think of the time it takes to solve a problem as part of your ongoing education.

There's no diploma, no graduation, and no degree but the lessons just might change your life.

Some of them have certainly changed mine!

-- Doug Smith


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Get Ahead of Your Motivation

Do you ever wait for motivation to hit you before you tackle a tough problem?

I've done that. I've waited for the right moment of motivation before starting to analyze what the problem is or before even defining the problem. The trouble with that is that the problem is getting larger the longer we wait.

We're in charge of our motivation. We create our own motivation. There's never any need to wait for motivation: just go.

Problem solving can't always wait for our interest or motivation. 

Problem solving starts when the problem arises. Why wait?

-- Doug Smith


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dealing With Uncertainty

How will we know that the solution will work?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? The ideas are good, the reasoning is sound, the analysis as complete as you can make it, but will it work? Will it work?

There's some uncertainty in solving problems that can throw us off center. Our emotions can trigger reactions that impact our ability to follow-through with our action plan. The speed of the solution can vary enough to get us confused. While we navigate that uncertainty, it's staying centered that keeps on track. Centering our use of clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion in the midst of change creates the focus we need to stay the course.

Are you willing to trade the certainty of a problem for the uncertainty of a solution?

It's worth it.

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Life Changing Solutions

Are you solving bigger and bigger problems?

Have you noticed that the more skill you gain as a centered problem solver the more you feel that impulse to solve even bigger problems?

Solving problems is life changing. Solving problems builds skills we need to help ourselves and others to solve increasingly more challenging problems.

Are you willing to solve a problem if the solution changes your life?

We need to do that. We need to solve the problems that change our lives. And there's no better time to start than right now.

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, October 17, 2015

What About An Unwilling Person?

Have you ever tried to help someone with a problem and discovered that they were not about to use your help?

People can be funny sometimes but they can usually be relied on to need to come up with their own solutions. We can each be grateful for help, but unless we have some influence on the solution, that solution won't seem valuable.

If solving a problem requires changing an unwilling person, we might need to redefine the problem.

Unwilling people see the situation differently. Unwilling people need willingness before change becomes a possibility.

What if we could achieve that by asking them to define their problem? And, taking it a step farther, what if they rephrased that problem as a goal? Once we've made it that far, all kinds of collaborative possibilities emerge.

But jumping in with a solution, especially one that requires someone else to change, seldom works.

-- Doug Smith


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Maybe Try Another Solution

What happens when we use the same solution over and over even when the problems change?

We don't really solve new problems that way do we? And yet so often we pull the same old tools out of our tool box and try the same old solutions.

New problems require new thinking. New problems require new solutions.

It's funny how we sometimes keep trying to same solution on totally new problems.

Funny, but not effective.

Let's do better than that. Let's be more creative. Let's develop new ideas.

How do we do that? Here are a few ways:

  • turn your idea upside down - how would it work reversed?
  • ask other experts what they think
  • ask people who are NOT experts what they think
  • look at the problem as if you were ten years old again. What would you do?
  • reframe your problem as a goal. How could you achieve that goal.
  • rethink your problem as a benefit. What would you do to get more of that problem? Now, how would you reverse that?
  • is the root cause what you think it is? what if it were something different? how do you know?
There are many more ways to stay creative.  Go for a walk, look at some art, attend a play (yes, do it!) go to a movie, play an active game -- get things moving within your self and you will likely get things moving within your ideas.

And the ideas are endless. Why settle for less?

-- Doug Smith





Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Be A Durable Problem Solver

Do your problems threaten to wear you down? Are they pulling the energy out of you?

Sometimes problems do that to me. It's almost as if they're looking for me to surrender. I won't surrender.

A problem might wear me down but it won't wear me out.

How about you?

Will you endure? Will you persist? Will you be a durable problem solver?

-- Doug Smith


Monday, October 12, 2015

Face Those Problems

What happens when you face your problems head-on?

I've noticed that until I face my problems head-on they tend to stick around. They aren't afraid of me. They don't even care whether I care - until I show that I do care with some positive, goal-focused, centered action.

We have to face our problems before we can solve them.

They wouldn't have it any other way.

What problem can you face today?

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Problems Hate Flexibiity

Have you ever noticed how much problems like to stay stuck?

Problems enjoy the routines that keep them in place. There's nothing like a nice deep rut to keep a problem around.

What problems hate is flexibility. The flexibility that comes from creativity, new ideas, new intentions, and new insights.

When we let go of our perceptions we can see new possibilities.

And those possibilities, once focused on a goal, have a marvelous way of leaving problems behind.

Isn't that what you want?

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, October 10, 2015

When Problems Hide

Do you have problems that hide?

For me, that can be hard to say, because if they're hiding, I might not know they're there.

And when they hide it tends to be because of my own unwillingness or inability to see them. Maybe they are problems because of something I've done. Maybe they're problems because I've something I've left undone.

Problems have a way of hiding behind our weakness.

To find the problem requires us to expose and deal with that weakness. That's not fun. That's not easy. It's just necessary.

Centered problem solvers work through their weaknesses and find their hidden problems.

What's hiding from you?

-- Doug Smith




Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Keep The Pain Out

Can you solve problems without adding any pain?

Some people take a tough approach to problem solving. They focus on driving solutions whether or not there are side effects. The problem with that is that the side effects often turn out to be worse than the original problem.

Any added pain creates a future problem. The old problem might even resurrect itself, only redoubled in its persistence.

We can solve problems without adding pain.

Why not do that? As centered problem solvers, the only viable solutions are those that do no harm.

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Put Peace In The Solution

Problems can be tricky. They are sometimes conflicts. They are sometimes puzzles. They are sometimes irritants that cause us to lose our center and think about getting even.

Getting even is never the answer.

Problems, approached from the view of how to achieve a goal, can be solved without creating harm. If there is harm in the solution, the problem isn't solved, it's just shifted to someone else. Centered problem solvers can do better.

The problem is not solved if there's no peace in the solution.

Why not solve the problem without planting the seeds of future conflict? Why not reach mutually beneficial solutions?

It's not just the high ground, it's the only ground that's truly grounded.

What do you think?

-- Doug Smith


Monday, October 5, 2015

It's Up To Us

Do other people solve your problems?

I have found that when I do expect solutions to come from other people, I'm usually disappointed. Other people can help. Other people are useful collaborators. Centered problem solvers work well with other people to focus, analyze, create, energize, and solve problems. But it's still up to us.

Depending on other people to solve our problems is the worst kind of useless illusion.

Other people help. Other people care. Other people support and challenge. But we are the ones to solve our problems.

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Solving Is Not Judging

Can you solve a problem without judging it?

It's easy to get solving and judging confused. But I've noticed that whenever I am in judgement mode that I'm not truly analyzing the problem so much as reflecting my own weaknesses onto it. That's hardly helpful.

In effect, when I judge a problem, I'm judging myself. It could be my perception, my habits, my actions, or my intentions. In worse cases it's simply myself. That's too harsh. That's unnecessary. That's not even useful.

We don't have to judge ourselves in order to analyze our problems.

We analyze the causes of our problems from a centered place of focus so that we can separate them. All problems have causes. When we are the cause we can fix what we're doing or creating that causes it. But when we're NOT the cause, what's the point in taking the blame?

Do you have a problem you can disentangle blame from today?

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Unify

Do your problems seem to be splitting your loyalties? Do you find yourself wondering how to honor all of your constituents when your problems are pulling you in multiple directions?

Sometimes this gets to me. How do I prioritize? Which problem do I solve? What comes next?

But it doesn't have to be that way. When we can focus on our true priorities: our mission and our vision and our values - the problems will align themselves. Some we solve (immediately!) some we defer (as soon as possible!) and some we simply let go.

Our problems need not polarize us -- they can instead unify us.

What if the best solutions solved multiple issues? Why not give that a try?

-- Doug Smith

What have you learned today?