solve a problem

You Can Never Solve A Problem In Your Own Box

Over and over again, we run into the business owner who is frustrated around trying to solve a problem. Problems such as; How do I get more customers? Why don’t I have more uptake around the products or services I am offering? What price should I be charging for what I do? How do I deal with employee issues, etc.

I think most of us see ourselves as being pretty good problem solvers, especially if you are a leader or business owner. It is like a label you wear proudly. Your career has been based on your ability to solve a problem, so to believe anything any different would be hard to imagine.

So why then is it so difficult to solve some of the problems that arise in building your organization or business?

I believe there are a couple of reasons that come into play:

It is easy to solve a problem where you have experienced something similar in the past. Experience can be incredibly valuable, in some cases. In your business, you have generally grown it from the bottom up, so you will have run into your fair share of problems. When an employee or a colleague run into the same exact thing, it is easy to help them or give them advice. As you draw on your experience, you know the pitfalls and know if you were able to do it over again, then the advice you are giving them, is exactly how you would deal with it.

On the other hand, when you run into a problem you haven’t seen before, the only thing you can do is find something similar and apply that experience. In some cases the similarities are quite close and the solution works great (thank goodness). In others, the solution really doesn’t work, but more times than not, it works for a moment, and ultimately the problem ends up coming back.

As I said experience can be a great thing, but it can also make us overconfident in dealing with problems we have little or no experience around. You know what I mean. You have customers or colleagues who believe they can do what you have worked years to learn and to gain experience around, and believe it is easy, but you know better. You know their lives would be much easier if they would just admit they don’t know, so you in fact could help them, but when you are good at solving some problems, you believe you can solve them all.

The second thing is, it can be difficult to see the real problem that needs to be solved. I have a friend who says when you are solving a problem, “it is like trying to read a label from the inside the bottle”. How many times have you watch those around you trying to solve a problem? It is like they can’t see the forest for the trees. The solution is obvious, but they can’t see it and ultimately try and solve the problem the same way they have in the past.

I think it is important to recognize when you are in the box related to a problem, you can’t see anything other than the walls of the box. It takes someone outside of the box to help you see that what you are looking at, is a box. Perspective is everything.

So, if you are looking to solve a problem (especially those ones that seem to just keep coming back), maybe it is time to admit that you might not be the best problem solver for that one problem, and seek out someone who already has solved it and allow them to help get you out of the box. You will be surprised at your own transformation!

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