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The strength of seeking solutions.

Throughout our careers, we find ourselves in situations where we face a problem (big or small) in need of a solution. In my experience, you can react in one of three ways:

  1. You can try to take the easy way out. Can you possibly just ignore the problem? Can you deflect, and maybe hand it off to someone else so it becomes his or her problem? Can you just admit you don’t know how to solve it and see if someone else will solve it for you?

  2. You can try to find a quick fix and move on to something else. Maybe it’s not the best solution, but it’s still better than doing nothing. You may only be patching things up temporarily, and the problem may resurface in the near future, but for the time being, it’s been solved. And maybe the next time it becomes a problem, it won’t even be your problem. Problem solved!

  3. You can implement a strategy to solve the problem now, and ensure that it can easily be solved if it ever comes up again in the future (though, ideally, your plan might be so great, this may be a permanent solution for some problems!). This, however, will take time. You may need to ask for help. You may need to do a lot of research. And you may need to write out your strategy.

In my professional (and personal) experience, I’ve found that most people default to either the first or the second strategy. In most cases, it’s not that there’s malice or laziness involved. Rather, there is a fundamental lack of ability to think critically about a challenge and find the desire to solve it. And in the days of Google, it becomes less and less acceptable.

Many of the problems you face in your businesses are not unique just to you (even though it may feel that way). In fact, it’s more probable that many others have been exactly where you are, facing almost exactly the same challenge. And through many experiences, there’s already a best solution out there for your problem.

It’s hard to admit when we don’t have the answer, and it’s even harder to ask for help in finding it. But, when you acknowledge that you don’t’ know something, and actively seek the support you may need, you’re actually doing the smartest thing possible. You can research yourself, call a colleague, or hire a consultant to help you develop a solution. Whatever the method, ideally, in the end, you will have solved your problem and become equipped with more knowledge and skills to address it effectively both now and in the future.

So tell me, what kind of problem solver are you?

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