Solving a problem might require us to let go of an irrational belief.
Do you believe that?
Are you holding onto a belief that no longer makes sense? "It's too hard for me..." Let that go. "People won't understand..." Let that go. "My side is right and it's up to everyone else to change." Good heavens, please let that go.
Solving a problem might require us to let go on an irrational belief. And we've all got them.
Not every problem is because of a communication gap.
There could be many causes. Maybe the root cause doesn't even have anything to do with communication. Maybe your communication is fine.
That would be surprising. Think about the problems causing you concern today. Think about what gets in the way of your sustaining a centered, mindful, focused balance. Is there a missing message? Is there a confusing call to action? Are people simply not talking about it?
Not every problem is because of a communication gap, but nearly every problem has a communication gap inside.
Solve that. See what happens.
-- Doug Smith
If your organization needs help solving problems collaboratively, contact me today about bringing our one-day workshop "Centered Problem Solving" to your location.
Problems don't care if you're ready to solve them.
They just keep on bringing you what you do not want. There is no universal force working to correct problems for you. It's up to you. You've got to focus, stay alert, and get started. You might need to roll up your sleeves. You might need to make a call. You might need to make several calls.
Problems don't care if you're ready to solve them. And, they don't get better until you do.
-- Doug Smith
Interested in solving more problems in your organization. Contact me today about bringing our workshop "Centered Problem Solving" to your location. You'll be glad that you did.
Are you ever tempted to major in the minors? Do you ever find yourself working diligently on things that barely matter? It's happened to me -- a whole day spent answering and reading email. A whole day perseverating over one slide or one learning activity. A night in a new city spent revising the 50th draft of a program I'm already doing.
Instead, let's focus on making things better. Let's tackle the big problems, before they make all the little cares obsolete. Big problems need not be ignored. We dare only to tackle them before they bury us.
Stabilize climate change.
Feed the hungry.
House the poor.
Eliminate exploitation and inequality.
Which problem concerns you the most? What ideas do you have about solving that problem?
We all know people we would not want to trade places with. Their problems are too deep, too profound, too persistent. And, we can not wear a red cape all the time rescuing everything and everyone.
Or can we?
One test of whether or not we should wear that red cape is if we are part of the problem. And we might just be part of the problem if we are not willing to trade places with someone who is enduring that problem.
Name the problem. Go ahead. Pick something of a global nature: water or food shortages, conflict over territory or religion, tribal wars, climate change, banking inequities...the list is long.
People endure the effects of all of those problems. I would not want to trade places with those people. Would you?
Centered problem solvers consider how they can help solve problems even when those problems do not involve them. Because, eventually, those problems touch us all.
The good news is, you do not need to find all the answers. They will change, anyway. Centered, creative problem solvers forces on answers that work. Answers that bring you closer to your goals. Answers that get out of their own way and lead to progress, not more problems.
Creative problems solvers don't need all the answers -- just the ones that work.
If a problem is threatening to put you, your team, or your organization in danger, it cannot be ignored. Average solutions won't help. Easy answers won't be enough. The toughest problems, the ones that could put you out of business, require transformational solutions.
Combinations of clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion when you are developing ideas and working your problem lead to transformational solutions - the ones that change the nature of the game and put the problem -- not you -- out of business.
Have you ever been blocked from solving a problem by emotions? Anger, sadness, grief, despair, impatience...emotions can make things tough on a problem solver.
Staying centered helps. Keeping balance. Drawing on our core strengths of clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion to keep perspective clear and kind. Any problem exists in a field filled with possibilities. Emotions can poison those possibilities if we lose our way.
The way is clear. Stay focused. Stay balanced. Stay centered.
Breathe. Stretch. See. Stay curious. Relax.
Easier said than done? That's why it takes training and practice.
Do you ever find it easy to identify the solution to someone else's problem?
Without the headaches and heartburn of the problem sitting in your own life, it can seem far more simple and easy to solve.
Seem. That does not mean that it is. And when we take on the problems of another without asking them what they've already done or plan to do, any solution that we do develop is likely to fall short. Ownership of the solution is just as important as creativity.
Sometimes solving someone else's problem for them is a big mistake.
Collaborate rather than dictate. Share ideas. Work together. Understand the problem at it's heart and center and not just on the surface. That takes time. That takes patience. And that takes collaboration.
Centered problem solvers collaborate with creativity, courage, clarity, and compassion. Leave any of that out, and the solution may be incomplete and ineffective.
We've all tried that already, haven't we? Why not start to get it right?
For me, the biggest stressor in my life is usually also my biggest problem. The longer it stays a problem, the bigger and more gnarly it gets, which puts more pressure on me to solve it, which causes more stress.
I could do without that stress. But, it's there to help. Stress reminds us that somethings needs to be taken care of. Something needs to be fixed, found, or solved. Why not simply get started?
Solving your toughest problem may not relieve all of your stress but it sure helps focus it in the right direction.
Why not relieve some of that stress today? Get started!
Centered problem solvers realize that problems are not completely separate from themselves. We know not to take them personally, and yet they interfere with our personal selves. Instead of reacting in an immobilized way to the stress that produces, why not move forward. Figure out the root cause of the problem and then set about applying the …
Problems resist easy answers. That's why we need to ask the tough questions.
Why are things the way they are? What is the deeper cause? On the surface, we may think we understand a problem. Digging deeper, asking probing and open ended questions, we can get at the heart of what is really going on.
Are people being rewarded for incorrect behavior? Is someone benefitting from the problem situation? If so, who? Is it too easy to ignore the problem? Is the source of the problem aware that there is even a problem?
For example, those who most resist a fair distribution of work are those who may not be working too hard. Why change? Executives making juicy bonuses may not even be aware of how hard it is to live paycheck to paycheck.
Creative problem solvers ask the tough questions with curiosity.
Not to judge. Not to punish. But to know. What's really going on?
Centered problem solvers use their creativity to separate people from the problem. They use their compassion to feel the disc…
I've sometimes found myself in a pattern of drudging up old problems from the past, as if they had anything at all to do with the present situation. They don't. Oh, they can certainly complicate things. And old problems will stick around as long as you invite them to. Don't invite them.
The problems of our past belong in the past.
Let's leave them there. Drop them like the dead weight they are.
When we fully resolve a present day problem it stops popping up in the future. So if past problems are popping up, maybe they aren't resolved. Resolve them. Retire them. Let them go. But, keeping them around sucks all the energy out of the room and has the problem solving effect of tying your shoes together. Why do that?'
Did you solve that problem? If so, let it go. If no, you know where to go: back to the plan to finish the job.
Did you ever stop to think how much you owe to your problems?
No, I haven't gone nuts. Think about it. Every problem we solve, every solution we design, gives us a level of focus and creativity that we didn't have before. Problems help us grow (because if we don't grow, the side effects are bad.)
Where would you be today if you'd never had a problem to solve?
The next time I have a problem, it will be the opportunity I seek. Maybe the problem is the key to the next big step. Maybe the lesson to learn will propel me forward farther than I could have ever gone before.
Do you want to bring more creativity to your problem solving?
I would guess that the answer is "of course!" More creativity leads to better solutions. Oh, yes and it's more fun. Can problem solving be fun? Absolutely, but only if you bring enough creativity into the process to get past the aggravation and move forward to the fun.
Creative problem solving requires creative practice. Find ways to sharpen your creativity.
Find ways off line. Go for a walk. Visit a museum. Draw a picture. Make up a joke (that's harder than it might seem). Create!
This is your coaches prodding, working on you in this moment: go create something!
Practice your creativity the way a great pianist practices their art and craft of playing the piano. You've got you keep your fingers on the keys. Go!
Have you ever been in a problem that seems completely caused by the people involved?
While most problems are process or design in nature, sometimes people are at the heart of it. And, fixing people is tough. Possibly impossible. I don't recommend it.
But there is a way to ease the issue. Without fixing people, we can fix our relationships with those people. We can increase our communication, spend more time, listen and understand more clearly what's going on.
Sometimes that's my favorite question when I work with a group that is stuck in a problem: what's going on?
Sometimes it's faster to work on our relationship before we work on the problem.
Because sometimes the problem is the relationship.
What relationships do you have that need more attention? What will you do to deliver that attention?
Your problem can wait for just one thing. Your problem can wait until you are centered. You'll be better equipped. You'll be less likely to grab incomplete solutions. You'll be calm, focused, and flexible.
Our problems are easier to solve once we ourselves are centered.
How does it feel when the solution that you've implemented doesn't quite work?
That frustrates me. All that work. All that thinking. And the solution is imperfect.
Well, guess what? Many solutions are imperfect. Maybe every solution that is available to you is imperfect. We do live in an imperfect world.
We can still benefit from imperfect solutions. We can still grow and learn from the results that we achieve, even when they are flawed or temporary.
Just because a problem doesn't stay solved doesn't mean that the solution wasn't valuable.
Maybe it served a short term end. Maybe it solved a key part of the problem. And maybe, just maybe, it's a way to learn and find our way to a better solution. Broken solutions lead to better solutions. Problems test and expand our creativity.
Centered problem solvers know that the problem solving is never done. Evolving solutions is part of the deal.
-- Doug Smith
Looking for a way to bring your team together to collaborate on…
Centering, to help in solving a problem, requires seeing things the way they are, not the way you think they should be. It's not seeing things the way you thought they would be, either. It involves seeing as is.
To do that, we need fresh eyes. We need to be able to let go of our expectations. We need to remain open to possibilities and to surprises.
Centered problem solving requires the release of pre-conceived notions.
Give your inner judge a break. Let go of expectations. Stay curious.
When you are solving a problem with a team, how much time do you spend developing that team? How much attention do you pay to the chemistry of that team and to your team relationships?
Does it matter?
I think it does. Teams that get along do better work. People who build relationships while seeking better results usually end up with both. We can't ignore people and expect them to give us their best.
People on a problem solving team don't have to like each other, but it helps.
How can we get people to like each other?
Here are a few ways that I've found helpful:
Reach agreement on your team's values. What traits are most important?Set agreements on how you'll interact with each other.Listen, listen, listen.Spend time with each other. There's no such thing as quality time, only time. Invest it in your team.
What ways have you found to be helpful in building strong relationships in a problem solving team?
-- Doug Smith