The ONE question that will turn you into a master problem-solver
You know what it feels like.
You’re faced with a challenge (i.e., a big honkin’ problem). You know you need to find a solution, whether it’s for yourself or a client. It’s expected. It’s what you get paid for. It’s important.
It’s not happening.
What do you do when you need to figure something out but you’re drawing a total blank? How do you jump-start your creative problem solving so you can be a hero? How do you get out of the quagmire that comes with thinking, “There’s no way around this”?
There’s one question that will do the trick. Every time. No kidding. What is it?
“HOW CAN I make this work?”
This deceptively simple question works its magic in several ways:
- It assumes that there is a solution to the problem.This assumption thaws your frozen thought processes, thereby enabling you to begin thinking creatively.
- You’ve given yourself permission and power to go not just “outside the box”, but outside the whole room.
- You’re able to take advantage of Newton’s First Law of Motion (“A body in motion tends to stay in motion”): Once you start thinking creatively, it’s fairly easy to keep thinking creatively.
- Tackling the problem from this perspective will knock you out of whatever rut your thinking may be in, thereby opening up totally new approaches to solving the problem.
- The question will energize and empower you to find an answer—or maybe several.
This happened to me just recently. I was trying to post a self-assessment quiz on my website, and I COULD. NOT. FIX. the formatting problem I was facing. I sheepishly admit it took me longer than I would have preferred to admit that I was running out of tools and solutions. But since I wasn’t willing to give up on the idea, it finally occurred to me to solve the formatting problem by changing my expectations of what the quiz “had” to look like. I dumped the problem-causing formatting, selected an easy-to-format alternative, and the job was done quickly and easily.
How have you gotten yourself unstuck when faced with a seemingly insoluble problem? Share some tips with the rest of us for the next time when we’re beating our heads against the wall!