I had the opportunity during the last week of June to visit Beijing China to provide training to a small group.
The training sessions were vibrant and full of discussion and growth. We discussed everything from sales tactics to service and processes.
It was my first time to China. I loved it! What a vibrant city! I went not knowing what to expect but I would have to say t that I expected less technology and industry than I found. Highways, cars, buildings, everything as modern as home. The subways were packed with people, young and old, actively communicating via their mobile devices. Some things have no boundaries.
Thanks to my hosts!
Facing a big problem head on can be pretty tough. It seems easier to avoid it, at least for awhile. Can you think of ways we avoid problems, either consciously or unconsciously? Here is what I have come up with:
Denial: You would think that if it is big it is not easy to deny. Well, I think my mind has done a pretty good job at times in not accepting something as a problem.
Minimizing it: OK so we admit we have a problem but hey, “no big deal”. This is a cousin to denial.
Under react: We take action but in a half hearted fashion and with steps that will not completely solve the problem.
In all three of these cases, in my experience, the problem festers. If anything it gets bigger and hurts more.
I had to make a choice today. I had a problem that has been festering for awhile. I think I may have employed all three tactics above until finally, today, I said enough is enough.
Finally, I chose to be honest with myself. Festering does increase pain little by little. The only question is when we will reach the point that we decide to face it.
I think I was fifteen years old when I first read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. See Chapter 4. I have read it many times since. He put a lot of good ideas into how to deal with problems in that book.
In management, in sales, in coaching everywhere I have found one of his simple formulas to work quite nicely….when I get to the point that I am ready to face the problem head on.
- “Get the facts”. Define the Problem. How could we possibly solve a problem unless we can accurately articulate what that problem is.
- “Analyze the facts”. Consider possible solutions. There are often a number of solutions to a problem. Think them all through. This requires some effort, some time and a quiet place perhaps to ponder how things might play out.
- “Arrive at a decision”. Pick the best solution. Trust yourself. Again, if we have integrity and are looking out for the interests of all concerned, for those problems that affect others, it will probably work out.
- Put that solution into action. At this point just move forward. Procrastination is a step backward. We need to watch out that delay does not nullify the thought and effort we put into solving the problem.
Facing a problem head on as you can tell started when we chose to look at it almost objectively, from outside ourselves. I think to some degree we have to put some emotion aside perhaps, especially if that emotion is fear of facing the problem. This might sometimes take courage. Don’t discard emotion though. It is who we are but don’t let anything negative rule the day.
Dale Carnegie listed three basic steps. The third included taking action. The only thing I might add to these four points is first to decide, no matter what, with courage, to face the problem head on. And frankly if it takes some wisdom from above to solve those problems, especially those that seem “unsolvable”, then do it with full purpose of heart.
I had the opportunity to speak with a group of about 50 people over the weekend. Some were business owners, doctors, lawyers, salespeople, teachers, mothers and fathers, all walks of life. One segment of our discussion centered around the value of taking time out to ponder, taking time out to just think about things in our lives.
For many of us the world moves pretty fast. We have a hard time finding those quiet moments to just think things through. We move from task to task, problem to problem, opportunity to opportunity. We get things handled. There is however tremendous value in locking yourself in your office, taking a walk or finding a place with a view where you can just let you mind wander. A notepad isn’t a bad thing to include.
It is in moments like this that I’ve found the most impact-full inspiration and insights. I started finding moments in these pondering rituals when I was just a teenager. Near our home in Southern California there were a lot of small hills one could walk or jog to the top of within a half an hour. At the top I would find a comfortable place to sit for an hour or two and just let my mind sift through the events of my life while enjoying the view of the valleys below. Often I would come to a resolution on a course of action for something I needed to do. It was one of the most enriching practices I ever engaged in.
Today, the hills around where I live are not so small but I find the same results when I spend time in my study, go for a walk in the neighborhood or enjoy staring at the flames in our backyard fire pit. Its not complicated. I just relax and think. Our minds have such power when we engage them outside of the rushed timetables of our lives.
Problems can be annoying. Sometimes we can anticipate a problem in our planning, but even then, they can still be annoying. Here’s just one example from my life.
I have hired many employees in my time. In the planning stage the job description was laid out. The requirements for the job laid out. Postings were published and soon I was evaluating resumes and interviewing. Have you been there? You find that perfect candidate and you hire them. Everything is right on target for them to play a an important part in your business and reality hits. Perfection was a panacea. The fit was oh so close, but not close enough. But you still want to make it work. What do you do when they don’t want it to? Have you ever had that happen?
I have, more than once. It’s an annoying problem. It is for them too. They took a chance. We both took a chance. They had the potential but because it just wasn’t perfect enough for them, they gave up on you and on themselves without really trying and they refuse to face the problem head on and overcome it. They quit. What do you do? What else can you do? Eliminate the position? No, you have work that needs to be done and someone has to do it. You need that person. So, what you do is find another. You start over and keep going. You and I don’t give up.
Bottom line, with any annoying problem you don’t give up. You find a way to solve it. That, at least for me, is the first rule of problem solving for any situation. We need the mindset that says “I will until”!