Solving problems a matter of having the right mindset

May 16 2012 - 6:56pm


Do you see a solution in every challenge or a problem in every circumstance? When it comes to approaching problems, you really have only four choices: flee them, fight them, forget them, or face them. Which do you usually do?

Most people see obstacles, while others see opportunities. Those who think in terms of solutions instead of problems can make a big difference in a business or organization. A company filled with solution seekers can be incredibly successful.

Problems are a matter of perspective. If you think something is a problem, then it is. However, if you believe that something is merely a temporary setback or an opportunity in the making, you don't have a problem because you haven't created one.

Obstacles, setbacks and failures are simply part of life and business. You can't avoid them, but you don't have to allow them to become problems. Almost all problems are solvable. The best thing to do is face them quickly with a solution-oriented mindset.

Your personality type, upbringing, and personal history may affect how solution oriented you are naturally. However, anyone can learn to be an innovative problem solver. Here are five ways you can make it happen:

* Be committed. No problem can withstand prolonged concentration and fixed focus. Set aside dedicated time to work on the solution. Make sure it is prime thinking time when you are fresh, energized and without distractions. Refuse to give up until a solution is found.

* Be creative. Get out of the box of your normal thinking. Reverse your viewpoint. Break the rules and approach it differently. Imagine how someone else would do it. Brainstorm with others to generate fresh ideas. Redefine and rethink the problem and possible solutions.

* Be simplistic. We have a natural tendency to complicate things. Nothing is as complicated as it seems. Every problem can become bigger if we let it. Break down the problem and simplify it. Approach it like solving a puzzle and take it one piece at a time.

* Be optimistic. Believe there are answers and solutions to the obstacles you face. Search for that second right answer, if necessary. Recognize that problems are opportunities waiting to be discovered. Learn from them, research them and use them to move you forward.

* Be human. Accept less than perfect solutions. If you strive for perfection or total control of every situation, you will fail far too often. Use all the resources available to you. Don't think you have to face it alone. Teamwork almost always will trump the individual.

Successful people spend time and energy cultivating a solution-oriented mindset that they can bring into play at any time. They are able to strategize solutions and create systems that make sure the problem doesn't reappear.

Challenges can either hurt you or help you, depending on how you approach them. They'll stop you from succeeding or stretch you to not only overcome them but become stronger in the process. When you truly become a solution seeker, your victory lies just on the other side of each challenge.

Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from Northern Utah. He can be reached at

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