It’s likely that every culture teaches us this valuable lesson:
If you can’t see yourself as part of the problem, you can’t be part of the solution.
If we see this from the perspective of a hero in a story, the classic pattern is this: the hero begins seemingly at the mercy of circumstances, but by the end, he is in control of his destiny. He learns that he can decide how he will act and grow.
How can you be the ‘hero’ in problem solving?
1. See problems as challenges to be overcome.
A lot of times we externalize a problem, and don’t want to take ownership of it. After all, who wants to say ‘It’s my problem?” The truth is a problem is simply a challenge, perhaps even an obstacle, but it’s also a chance for you to demonstrate your value.
2. Blame isn’t the end of the story, and often is just a distraction.
Okay, it wasn’t your fault. Or maybe it was. Either way, the ‘problem’ is in the way of your success. People, events, and things are out of control, or maybe to well-controlled. It’s easy to blame them (especially if it IS their fault) and be the innocent victim. NEVER do this. Such innocence has a high cost, and the most obvious is impotence. Anything you blame has power. Rather than focus on the blame, focus on what you can do to deal with the challenge.
Instead of ‘why did this happen to me?’ a better question to ask is ‘what can I do when something like this happens?’ or ‘how can I make the best of this?’
3. Forget about what you don’t want. Focus on what you DO want.
There was a southern lady with a lovely home. In front of it was a beautiful tree. During the Civil War, Union soldiers burned her tree. One day, General Lee visited her, and she complained to him about what happened to her tree. It is said that his advice to her was this: ‘Cut it down and forget it.’
While she was busy being bitter about her tree, she failed to realize that in the years that had gone b y she could have planted another one. Likewise, it’s easy to become so focused on what we don’t want that we waste our efforts either mourning the failure or loss or merely working to avoid such failures and losses instead of playing to win.
Our minds don’t easily accept the word ‘no.’ Try not to think of a blue buffalo with wings and see what happens. So, instead of exerting so much mental energy on avoidance, focus your thoughts on what you really want, and visualize it in as much detail as possible. How would you walk, dress, feel, behave if you got what you wanted? By doing this you will develop in your mind observable, measurable standards by which to approach your goals.
4. Keep ONE eye on the ball.
The game of business isn’t just about keeping your eye on the ball, it’s about winning the whole game. Keep the big picture in mind, in great detail. Create for yourself a sort of mental flowchart going from getting the job or contract, to advancing and expanding, to being fulfilled, happy, accomplished. The best measure of success isn’t just happiness- it’s satisfaction.
What is the true goal? When I was younger, I would buy the best sketchbooks and try to find a ‘fancy’ pencil to draw with in the hope that I would draw better. Likewise sometimes we go after what we think will give us what we really want. As I got older, I learned that getting better at drawing led me to pick the tools which were most comfortable to my style. So, ask yourself, if you were better, what would you get that is even more important than being better at what you do?
5. Persist as though failure is impossible.
Persistence is proof that you believe. Commit yourself to fully achieving your goals. Work harder on yourself than on your goals. Why? You may not always get what you deserve, but there is great satisfaction in deserving what you get. Success in the obvious, immediate goals is only the beginning. To pursue those goals ethically, responsibly, and in a way that inspires others to excel is to be a hero. By being an inspiration to others, you help to create success beyond your own, which is what heroes are valued for most.
Take a moment to reflect the challenges before you. What values and actions do they require of you? How can you meet and then exceed those challenges? What are the resources needed? How can you begin? Start asking these questions now, and you heroic journey is well underway.