To fix any problem, you must first understand it
From the Beauty: Many years ago when I met Christy for the first time, we shared contact information. After returning to my office I immediately sent off an email stating how wonderful it was to meet her. Her response, just below her signature, contained this quote: “If you can only see the obstacles, you have lost sight of the goal.” Reading that impacted my life, and it became my credo. This simple one-liner cleared away the fog. Problem-solving (the obstacle) is the nature of our business and if you are not 100 percent committed to the project (the goal), you will never truly succeed.
Here is how it works for me: Once I determine the true nature of a problem, I dissect and analyze it to its core, never losing site of the big picture. Then I build a strategy, hone in on my negotiating skills and compromise for the common goal. Then it’s time to step back and analyze the new information to make sure the solution I’m heading toward is sound in every way. At this point, the solution should be clear. It does take practice, but if you set the goal as your priority and remove all emotion from the equation, you’ll find the solution in record time.
From the Brain: It doesn’t matter if you are solving a problem by yourself, as part of a team, for work or in your personal life, you need to take a few key steps before acting.
First, understand what goal the problem is preventing you from reaching. This may seem obvious, but in our haste, we often address the symptom not the cause.
Then make sure you fully understand the problem. Is there more to the story? Are you hearing about this issue firsthand or from others? If it’s from others, make sure what you understand to be true is what you were told, and that the person who shared the information is clear on what they heard/saw.
You may be frustrated or annoyed once you identify the challenge. The next step is key but so difficult: You must separate your emotions and react logically, not emotionally.
Plato cautioned that emotion drowns reason, and this couldn’t be more true. That’s why it’s often easier to solve someone else’s problems rather than your own. You can see their situation objectively, they cannot. Keep in mind that you’re the same way and that you may need to take a step back before taking action.
Bottom line: Before you can fix the problem, you have to understand it. Take the time necessary to fully assess the situation before acting, and you’re halfway there.