Here’s the deal. I am terribly impatient. I guess it’s the curse of a (humble) genius. Only kidding — at least on the genius part.
Yet again, I am very fast. I have always more ideas flying through my head than I’d like to admit, and I can quickly pick up new software, systems, programs, and frameworks.
Yet, I have a terrible, terrible flaw — which is most likely directly correlated to the skills above-mentioned.
I am utterly impatient.
If something does not work, I huff and puff. I get heated very quickly — my mum seems to be blaming my Italian blood, or (to be precise) my dad’s Sicilian blood.
Still, this is my biggest shortcoming. Which makes problem-solving a tricking subject for me. This is why, when I discovered these five key questions to solving problems (straight from Tony Robbins), I decided to give them a go.
You see, the biggest issue with problems, or what he reframes as “challenges”, is the feeling of overwhelm. This is truly what we want to avoid when looking at the challenges life throws at us. Why? Because overwhelm is a draining feeling which leads to more pain we’d like to admit.
Regardless of how you may feel about Tony Robbins (and I wholeheartedly respect that), I suggest you give these questions a try because, quite honestly, they completely changed my relationship with problems.
The five questions
The thing that stuck most with me from theses question is that Robbins suggests we’d spend no more than 20% of the time defining it and 80% of the time should be spent on the solution.
Obvious, right? Yet, we do not do this nearly enough.
First up, write the problem on paper in order to come up with your best plan for handling the challenge and act upon it as quickly as possible. Notice what you’re getting from your current actions by answering the following questions:
What is great about this problem?
Okay, bear with me on this. Some problems will suck — actually, most challenges may do at first. Yet, you need to prime your mindset to find the motivation to make the changes you want to make.
Let’s take our digital magazine as an example of a challenge.
We’d been having some issues with some of the features, which means we’ve been working 10–12 hours this past week to get the issue ready for Friday.
Something great about this is definitely not sleep-deprivation, but the fact we know what we need to do to make the life of our designer easier ahead of time, by refining the table of content to make everyone work as efficiently as possible. Without finding ourselves in this pickle, we would not know.
What is not perfect (yet)?
“Yet” is a key part of the question. Continuing with my example, we may have not perfected our issue structure since the magazine is still very new, yet again, we now know what we need to do to find a better solution for ourselves.
We know what the challenge is, and we can be proactive about a solution. By being aware of the issue, and knowing that by fixing it we’d be able to create a better system, we’re implying that perfection can be reached if focusing on what we can do to improve the situation.
What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
This stems from the idea that it may suck having to have an internal meeting to overview four issues in order to come up with a new structure for the whole magazine. Yet, it’s what needs to be done and it’s going to make lasting changes to our whole process.
This question dives even deeper into getting a clear idea of the solution to your current challenge and allows you to brainstorm ideas.
What am I willing to no longer do in order to change my situation?
This is where you decide to acknowledge the challenge and make sure you follow through with your solution.
It’s great to find a way to turn things around, but without taking action, nothing will change. This is why we put our editorial meeting in the diary — and this is why it’s going to happen.
It’s the only way we can avoid incurring the same problem — and it’s the solution we’re willing to work towards.
How can I enjoy the process while I tackle this challenge?
Can you make it fun? We’re looking to have a magazine celebration and party on Monday after the issue is out. Some non-alcoholic Prosecco will be popped (yes, my sober friends, it’s a thing), a movie will be rented, and we may even order a takeout to treat ourselves. After that, we’ll have a Zoom-date with the team to discuss how to go forward.
Maybe you want to have a special “date” with yourself to look at the problem at hand — or if you are dealing with another person, you can apply the same principle.
When it comes to approaching challenges in life, you have to work on your mindset first.
Develop more flexibility by asking yourself, these key questions:
- What is great about this problem?
- What is not perfect (yet)?
- What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
- What am I willing to no longer do to change my situation?
- How can I enjoy the process while I tackle this challenge?
Change your beliefs about what problems are, call them challenges and see them as opportunities for you to grow over obstacles life is presenting you.
If what you’re doing isn’t working, change your approach.