Problem Solving

By Bill Hodges

©2000 Hodges Seminars International

One of the most debilitating things that can happen to an individual is worry. Worry, in fact, is an enemy that can cause us to overeat, eat too little, lose sleep, or want to sleep all the time. It can cause us to have great mood swings and force us to become withdrawn or hyperactive. Worry generally stems from our inability to tackle the problem that faces us. The longer we brood upon the problem, the more our quality of life deteriorates. Here are a few simple ways to approach just about any problem and, hence, our tendency to worry about it.

First, when faced with a problem, we must begin with the idea that every problem has one or more solutions. In order to find the solutions, we must stop concentrating on the negative aspects of the situation and look for the doors that are open to us. For example, my pilot training instructor was teaching me about forced landings; and the first few times he pulled the power on the airplane, I had a tendency to search the horizon for a place to land. In almost every instance, had I looked closer to home, i.e., straight down, I would have found a safe landing site. Do not overlook that which should be obvious when solving problems.

Second, don’t panic. Fear can drive us to wrong conclusions. Think how many people in a fire situation have been driven toward a blind exit because they followed the crowd, allowing fear to guide them. Many lives might have been saved if the people had just taken a few seconds to review the circumstances. Whenever faced with a problem, take time to think it through.

Third, look at all your options. Take a pad of paper and write out the problem in its entirety. Then read it aloud to yourself. You will be amazed how often the solution will come to you as you verbalize the aspects of the problem.

Fourth, write down all of the pertinent facts and break the problem into its smallest parts. Reflect on how you can make an impact on any portion of the problem if you can’t impact its entirety. You may be able to markedly reduce the severity of the problem by impacting its parts.

Don’t overlook the fact that problems in many instances provide opportunities for us to grow and prosper. Problem solvers are always in demand and considered a vital asset in any group or business. If you become known as a trouble shooter or problem solver within your organization, you can bet you will be the last one to be viewed as inconsequential. You can look upon problems—especially the ones you solve—as a key to job security.

Bill Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and syndicated columnist. Hodges may be reached at Hodges Seminars International, P.O. Box 89033, Tampa, FL 33689-0400. Phone 813/641-0816.

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