Become the Greatest Problem Solver You Can Be
All behaviors are developed over time and through reinforcement. To become the greatest problem solver you can be, you need to not only practice solving problems, but you need to deliberately practice these behaviors, knowing that is what you are doing. If you want these behaviors to become habits, treat them like such. As you use them to solve progressively harder problems, you will find yourself becoming a stronger problem solver.
The Problem Solver’s Schizophrenia
My parting advice as you get started—and at every stage of your problem-solving adventures—is something that I have told the problem solvers I have coached for years. It’s certainly the case that if you don’t believe that you can solve a hard problem, you are going to give up as you run into trouble—and you will run into trouble: That’s why they are labeled “hard.”
But I have also found that blind confidence will make you lazy. If you believe that success is inevitable, you are less likely to work your tail off in order to achieve it. Hard problems are definitely immune to the power of belief, and simply deciding that you are going to solve something won’t solve it.
The best problem solvers I know hold in their head two contradicting beliefs: they believe they have the skills needed to solve the problem, and they fear that this might be their moment of failure if they are not vigilant. They have the confidence to dive right in and get their hands dirty, jump into unfamiliar situations, and explore science or processes that are brand new to them. And along with their confidence, they know that there is no path to success laid out for them that they can follow. They must forge their own way, and they are wary of getting lost. They hate the thought of failure, but they accept that it is a real possibility.
This is “problem solver’s schizophrenia”: a fierce symbiosis of confidence and fear. Together they will push you to stretch yourself instead of you holding yourself back out of intimidation or laziness. They will propel you forward into unknown territory and keep you smart as you do this.
To develop the confidence, you simply need to practice, practice, practice, ideally with a coach that will provide help and feedback. To hold onto the fear, you just have to truly care about solving the problem. “Trying your best” shouldn’t be your standard for personal success: solving the problem should be.
The Final Word
Practicing the behaviors in this course will help you build your problem-solving skills. On your journey to becoming a great problem solver, you will have ups and downs, and you will make mistakes. But if you continue to develop your problem-solving behaviors, you will rack up a list of problem-solving victories that will drive you even further forward.
I can’t guarantee you will become the best problem solver in the world. But however competent you are, and whatever your potential, I believe you can get even stronger. So go find someone with whom to share the journey and look for something important that needs fixing.
And get to it.
Learn more about the 9 behaviors of great problem solvers: get Stop Guessing, watch free videos, take the online workshop, and get other free resources.
Stop Guessing: The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers by Nat Greene, where you can learn more about how to solve hard problems.
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