We have all read or heard stories of ordinary people who have overcome daunting challenges. I am always fascinated by these people. How did they rise to this level of challenge? Every time I encounter a problem, I always remind myself that others have undoubtedly faced something similar, but in the end they were able to turn things around, and possibly turn this challenge into an opportunity. The question I ask myself specifically is how can I do that? We have 7.3 billion people in this world– as of 2014. The possibility of someone encountering a similar problem is really very high. What would or did this person do? Is he or she following a common path of ignoring the problem and hoping that the problem will resolve itself — which rarely happens. This mental exercise usually calms me down and makes me hopeful; the solution is hidden somewhere. I only need to work hard to find it.
To solve this problem, I usually try different calculated steps: small ones to test the water. This exercise and this thought process, as I have discovered, usually lead me to the right path. In other words, we need to conduct a deliberate effort of documenting these “micro solutions” to discover which one will work.
This strategy works from finding a new job to raising your children. People don’t need to invent a solution, as we used to think, we need to uncover what other successful people did to solve it. How do you do that? How do you find this “magic” solution? The truth is that it is more productive to spend time exploring and defining the problem than in trying to solve it. Identifying a problem creates an edge to solving it. Throwing money at the problem, as I did in the past, was an absolute failure. From experience, if you can solve a problem by money, the problem is perhaps one of the easiest — as my mother used to tell me when I was a teenager. Problems, especially behavioral problems, cannot be solved by money. In order to solve a problem, you need do a behavior modification. People have spent most of their time and life feeling helpless not knowing that small modifications in their behavior would solve the problem.
For example, many people rush fast to medication to solve that byproduct of living — namely anxiety. When you treat diabetes, medicine will not be enough unless you alter your diet– you need to stop eating foods that cause a spike in blood sugar. Likewise when you have anxiety due to stress, having medicine will not be enough to solve the problem. You need to follow sleep hygiene. You need to have an outdoor activity. You need to exercise. You need to be social with other people. You need to stop watching TV in bed. You need to treat sleep as a ritual which you can follow every day to be productive. What I mean by all of this is that you need to focus on yourself to modify your life and habits in order to help medicine to do the job.
Most CEOs and successful people develop strategies to handle stressful time. They also develop strategies to follow micro solutions to small problems before they dive into solving big problems. These CEOs spent more time defining the problem and finding it before they invest so much energy and time to solve it.
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