“What is the problem that you are the answer to?”

“What is the problem that you are the answer to?”

—Author Unknown

Image from Unsplash by Hans-Peter Gauster

Consider all the roles and responsibilities you have in a typical day. How is it that you create value in your professional and personal communities?

Which of these efforts create the greatest intrinsic and extrinsic value for others and at the same time bring the greatest joy and life satisfaction to you?

Consider the overlapping of these areas as your personal and professional brand or niche. How much of your day do you expend in these efforts versus those that feel like an obligation or burden?

EXERCISE:

What are your special talents and unique abilities that light you up and solve meaningful problems in the world?

How might you realign your daily efforts to spend far more of your precious time doing what you were meant to do?

What comes easy won’t last long

“What comes easy won’t last long, and what lasts long won’t come easy.”

—Author Unknown

Image of a sand castly by the ocean

Image from Unsplash by Dallas Reedy

Are you a builder?

All of us are, to some degree.

Take a trip into your memory banks to revisit the sand castles, school projects, tree houses, do-it-yourself projects, and perhaps even a business, you have begun or completed.

How much time and effort went into each example? Which of these have stood the test of time?

If you enjoy the idea of building extraordinary things, consider checking out the series Impossible Engineering on the Science Channel. Each episode details how giant structures and record-breaking buildings are built, how they work, and how they have shaped our modern world.

EXERCISE:

What are some of your most important personal and professional projects?

How will you maximize your efforts and levels of commitment to make sure they are built to last?

Peace is not made at the council table

“Peace is not made at the council table or by treaties, but in the hearts of men.”

—Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States

Image from Flickr by Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Image from Flickr by Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

In the movie, Miss Congeniality (2000), Sandra Bullock plays an undercover FBI Agent posing as a contestant when terrorists threaten to bomb the Miss United States beauty pageant. Bullock’s character, Gracie, is the only female FBI agent who can “look the part” despite her complete lack of refinement and femininity. She prides herself in being “just one of the boys” and is horrified at the idea of becoming a girly girl.

Since the film was a comedy, the audience wasn’t alarmed. We all happily watched all the interplay of contestants and other characters. In one scene, the contestants were asked about their personal goals and aspirations. Almost every contestant mentioned world peace at some point in their response.

In today’s dynamic and often violent world, we sure could use more people working on world peace in their personal and professional lives. If all of us did our part, we would never need a council table or treaty, which as President Hoover points out, rarely works.

EXERCISE:

What heartfelt attitudes and actions can you share in your communities to bring about greater peace on earth?

Avoiding Problems

“Avoiding a problem doesn’t solve it.”

—Bonnie Jean Thornily, Illustrator

Image of an ostrich with its head in the sand

Image from www.dailymail.co.uk

The ostrich doesn’t really bury its head in the sand —it wouldn’t be able to breathe! But the female ostrich does dig holes in the dirt as nests for her eggs. Occasionally, she’ll put her head in the hole and turn her eggs.

People, on the other hand, often “bury their heads in the sand,” ignoring problems for long periods of time, hoping they will simply go away.

EXERCISE:

What issue or problem have you been avoiding, professionally or personally? Where would summoning the courage to take this issue “head on” make the biggest difference?

 

Nip it in the bud

“Nip it in the bud!”

—Author Unknown

Image of fingers pinching off a new leaf

image from haveyoueverpickedacarrot.com

Today’s quote comes from the world of horticulture, where trimming a bud from a plant prevents it from becoming a flower or a piece of fruit.

Since most of us appreciate the beauty of flowers and the sweet taste of fruit, it would seem there would be little use for that advice, but this form of gardening prevents overgrowth or the spreading of unwanted issues.

As a metaphor in our lives, nipping things in the bud is a good practice when we wish to stop a potential problem before it blossoms into a major issue.

EXERCISE:

Where and on what issue would nipping it in the bud serve you best, personally or professionally?

Resolving Difficult Problems

“A difficult problem at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”

—John Steinbeck, American Novelist

Image of sleeping man

Image from Flickr by Or Reshef

A growing body of evidence demonstrates the ability of the unconscious mind to work on a problem that requires a creative solution. Similar results have been gleaned in studies on daydreaming, and its value in producing creative and more original ideas.

Turning inward mobilizes the right hemisphere of the brain. The sleeping or relaxed brain cuts out many distractions, which leads to greater capacity to solve problems.

EXERCISE:

How can you invest in a good night’s sleep, a power nap, or even a bit of daydreaming to more fully tap your creative problem-solving powers?

“Fall in love with the problem…”

“Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.”

—Kaaren Hanson, VP of Design /Innovations/ Intuit

QC #853

Through the course of our lives, we have all developed strategies for success which we apply to the daily challenges we face in our professional and personal worlds.

As long as these default solutions work reasonably well, we rarely seek alternative solutions that may actually work far better.

When we embrace, and even fall in love with, the problems we face, we generate a higher ability for innovation and creativity, discovering possible solutions that were previously unrecognized.

EXERCISE:

How might falling in love with your problems help you release some of the “sacred cow solutions” you have used over the years? What new and potentially more successful solutions would be possible?