The problem occurs when things do not go the way you want it to be. Everyone will experience the problem. It can happen anywhere, anytime and most of the time it will happen the least you expect it to happen! There are just inescapable!
People`s perspective makes a huge difference in how a person approach their problem. If we look at negative perspective. Problems are unsolvable, problems are permanent, problems there control us and problems stop us. If we look at the positive perspective, problems are solvable, problems are temporary, problems challenge us and problems stretch us.
How we look at the problem at the first place makes the difference whether we can solve it or not. It is best to look at the positive side by facing the problem, assessing the problem and taking action to address it. I am going to share the key principles to handle problems which I read about from The Difference Maker by John C. Maxwell.
- Identify the problem!
The first thing we need to do is to determine if it is really a problem. There is a difference between a problem or a predicament. A problem is something you can resolve because there is a solution. If there is no solution, it is not a problem. It is known as a predicament. The predicament is a difficult situation that a person needs to endure. The issue here is when people treat their predicament as a problem. They become frustrated, angry and even depressed. They make the wrong decision, waste their energy and fail. In the end, they begin to nurture the victim mindset in them. So, how do we differentiate these two?
This is based on my own experience. My father was called by God on the 28 May 2015 due to cancer. This is something I cannot solve. However, I have to learn to live with it and move on with life because crying about it will do more damage. That is a predicament. There is no way a person can resurrect a person from the dead unless he is God. It is a difficult journey, but I have to move on.
Another example, last year, 2016 the oil price had drop from approximately 90USD/barrel to 40USD/barrel. You are working in an oil and gas company. The company have to make a tough decision to reduce cost significantly to earn hard cash. The company announced a reorganization process whereby there will be massive lay off. Unfortunately, you got the hit. That is already a predicament. Are you going to drain your energy to complain about it? It is alright to vent out for a short period of time. But, are you doing to stay down? Instead, you have to learn to accept it and spend your energy to hunt for a new job or even starting a business. People with a victor-mindset will use it as an opportunity to transition to something better.
How do we define the problem? John C. Maxwell structured P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S as follows:
Predictors – helping to mould our future.
Reminders – showing us that we cannot succeed alone.
Opportunities – pulling us out of ruts and prompting us to think creatively.
Blessing – opening doors we would otherwise not go through.
Lessons – providing instruction with each new challenge.
Everywhere – telling us that no one is excluded from difficulties.
Messages – warning us about potential disasters.
Solvable – reminding us that every problem has a solution.
I would suggest you write this down and stick it up somewhere that can be easily accessed. If you encounter a problem, look through this list. I believe it will help to motivate you to respond to the problem.
If you are able to distinguish between predicaments from problems, then you are able to put yourself in a better position to endure the predicaments and determine the solution for the problem.
- Be ever ready to face the problem.
Al Davis, owner of NFL`s Oakland Raiders
A great leader doesn`t treat problems as special. He treats them as normal.
The moment you drive your car for a long ride, expect problems like a flat tire. When you have your wedding reception, expect problems like the microphone will be faulty or even out of battery. If you are working at the office, expect a problem like being shouted by another colleague for no reason. We need to be ever ready when comes to deal with a problem.
A problem not anticipated is a problem. A problem anticipated is an opportunity.
Facing the problem can be a struggle, believe me. Based on John C. Maxwell experience, they are 4 groups of people when dealing with life adversity.
#1: Flee it – they try to run away, but the problems always follow.
#2: Forget it –they hope the problem will go away, but problem left alone only get worse.
#3: Fight it –they resist, but the problem still persists.
#4: Face it– they look at the problem realistically and finds ways to solve it.
It is good to do self-assessment to determine which group you are usually in. If you are in the #1, #2, and #3, you need to change your mindset. Divert your mentality into the fourth group, FACE IT! The right question to ask, “How can I solve this problem effectively?”. Use positive word to divert your mindset from a victim minded to a victor minded. Remember, the first step to solving the problem is to have the courage to face it and understand the problem.
- Every problem is a potential opportunity
Negative minded people will see an obstacle as a burden. Positive minded people will see the obstacle as an opportunity. President John F. Kennedy was asked how he becomes a war hero. He answered: “It was quite easy. Someone sunk my boat!”. Most of the time, adversity paves the way for success. All the invention around us begins with a problem. It is the affirmative action that a person to resolve the problem that makes the difference.
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur. Both of them opened a bicycle shop and they focus on repairing and selling bicycles. They were also had a passion for flight. However, that time there were no airplane like what we had now. They identified the problem and took matters into action. From a bicycle mechanic to an aircraft mechanic. It was a contrast transition. However, with their positive attitude they continue to pursue their passion. They learned, experiment, made mistakes and modified their prototype until they succeed. On the 17 December 1903. (Source: Eye Witness to History) Orville Wright took the first flight 20 feet above a wind-swept beach in North Carolina. The flight lasted for 12 seconds. He traveled for 120 feet. Although they succeed that time, they continued to try again to improve. There were three more flights made that day. The best recorded flight was 59 seconds over a distance of 852 feet. That was the mark of flight revolution. The Wright brothers were the game changer of flight by unlocking their abilities from building a bicycle to building an airplane.
“It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.”
Problems are alarm-clock for creativity and innovation. If we choose to wake up and get up, problems will notify us to use our unlocked abilities. You will be surprised with what you can do with that mindset.
- List of all the of the potential solution to the problem
We have to program our mind stating that to every problem, there is already a solution whether you know what it is or not. Fire up the creative and innovative mind to attack the problem. Pull in the available resources. There could be information from the internet or people who are expert with experience that can help you. Use the network you have to tackle the problem. Good thinkers always have more than one way to solve a problem. We tend to make a mistake when there is only one solution to any problem. Keep on thinking and grinding through to determine the solution.
No problem can stand the attack of sustain of the solution.
The question is the key to unlocking the world greatest mystery. The right question will give you the right answer. Use the famous fundamental question specifically why, how, what, who, when and where. It will direct the problem to the right solution.
- Take action and refocus on the right solution.
Having a list of a solution of a problem is meaningless if action is not taken. We all have that fear of not taking action because we do not know will it work. Once there are options, the next step is to determine the best solution. Then, make the plan to a reality by take the action and concentrate on it. Let us look at it this way, Alex is not taking a decision on the list of solution due to fear of making wrong decision and Zoe is taking the action on the list of possible solution. Zoe does not know the solution will it solve the problem, but she just executes it. Between Alex and Zoe, which person has a higher probability to succeed? Definitely, Zoe! Alex already failed as he did not take action because he is waiting and waiting and the problem still persist.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Concentration is the secret of strength in politics, in war, in trade, in short, in all human management affair.
In your problem-solving journey, you may make a mistake, do not chase after it. Do not try to defend it, instead learn from it. Take a step back and refocus on the solution of the problem. Move to the next solution which potentially may solve the problem. That is the beauty once you have the list of a solution of a problem. Always keep an eye on the goal that you want to achieve and visualised it. Let us say, Zoe made the wrong choice. She found out that 1 out of 10 solutions does not work and this allows her to eliminate the failed option. She can move on the next potential solution. Learn, refocus on the situation and keep attacking the problem until the goal is achieved.
John Foster Dulles
The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.
The key is to focus on what you are learning, not on what you are losing. If you do that, then you will open the door to future possibilities. A positive attitude can help you to do that. It helps you to learn from the present and focus on the future. Positive thinking is how you think about a problem. Enthusiasm is how you feel about the problem. Put these two together, it will determine what you do about the problem.
To summarise the principles, we need to identify the problem first. We need to be ever ready to face the problem. Keep in mind, every problem is a potential opportunity. Write down a list of all the of the possible solution to the problem. Most importantly, take action and refocus on the right solution. All the best and go solve that problem!
The content was taken from the Difference Maker, written by John C. Maxwell and with a spice of my thought. Definitely, a book to read and highly recommended for those who want to learn to manage their attitude.