Be Prepared to Overcome Your Problems
Awareness is a big deal nowadays. Everyone is looking to raise awareness about the various problems that plague our society. But I want to remind you that awareness is only one PART of problem solving. The rest is solution finding. And it is important to understand that fact so we can know what to focus our attention on moving forward.
Teaching math for 15 years has taught me that the number one skill a child can develop is their ability to solve problems within any given system. I don’t believe that it is possible to create a system that gives you predictable results for EVERYTHING you do. There are certain areas of business and life that have too many variables. And this can be a major source of frustration for people when solving problems. People want predictability. They want certainty. And they don’t like it when the system doesn’t work like they want it to.
Now I know that business is all about systems. And you MUST have systems in place if you want to be successful. That is a 100% guarantee. You can’t win without a plan. But within any given system, there needs to be the flexibility to make adjustments. The system gives you the plan of how to proceed. But problem solving occurs when the plan doesn’t work and you have to make those adjustments. Frustration will hit us like a freight train when we don’t EXPECT ahead of time to have to make adjustments. Expecting the plan to always work will cause you to respond like it’s out of your control when it doesn’t. You’ll blame the system instead of taking the responsibility on yourself to make the adjustment. You just can’t do that and be successful, especially in business.
Part of the reason we won’t take responsibility is that we have a fundamental misunderstanding about HOW we should be solving our problems. First, we need to understand that there are only two ways to solve a problem:
- Eliminate the problem.
- Overcome the problem.
Where most people go wrong is that they tend to want to solve problems by eliminating them. For many high school kids in math class that don’t do well or don’t try hard, the problem isn’t doing the math. It is the thinking that comes with it. They don’t want to think. So they use the “I don’t get it” excuse. What they are really saying is “I don’t want to think about it anymore”. They are eliminating the “problem” of thinking because they don’t WANT to think. But a new problem arises come test time. Now they want to think and can’t do it because they haven’t practiced. That’s the type of consequence you face when you try to eliminate a problem.
Problem elimination is only an illusion. It appears you have eliminated it, but there is always a deeper-seeded issue that will arise later. Letting an incompetent or unmotivated employee go may eliminate the problem now. But the real problem lies in how that person got the job to begin with; or what led to their lack of motivation or competence to get the job done. We think we’ve gotten rid of the problem by firing them, when in fact we’ve just put a bandaid on a gaping wound. The real solution almost always lies in overcoming the problem.
This is why making adjustments within a system is so important. It gives us the capability to overcome. We didn’t eliminate the polio virus, but we found a way to overcome it with a vaccine. We didn’t eliminate slavery. It still exists in various forms across the world. But people have found a way to overcome it throughout history. And while sometimes it is a very worthy cause to WANT to eliminate certain problems, it does not give each person afflicted by the problem the best opportunity to be successful moving forward.
Now let me be clear: this doesn’t mean that our problems can’t get the best of us from time to time. Each problem is a battle. The more battles you win will help you win the war. But you must be willing to consistently solve problems the right way if you want to be successful. Any other way will leave you frustrated (TONS of stress) or worse (out of business completely).
Also, it is worth mentioning that the best solutions are the ones that PREVENT the problem from occurring in the first place. But again, let me remind you that you cannot assume that a problem can be prevented all the time. Sometimes it can only be minimized. And there is never a guarantee a certain problem that has happened before won’t happen again. But if you’ll always be PREPARED to handle unexpected situations, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance at success.
Understanding how to solve our problems lies in understanding the difference between planning and preparation. Planning tells you what you need to do, but preparation leads you when you’re not sure what to do. If you want to be a great at finding solutions, then ALWAYS BE PREPARED. That’s how you win the war against problems in business and in life!
Question of the day: Are you preparing yourself daily to overcome the problems that come your way?