On Problem-Solving

On Problem-Solving

If you’re going to develop any skill as an independent artist, entrepreneur, creative, or anything, make it problem-solving.

Problem-solving isn’t taught in school. The only place I ever received any training in it was in network marketing (and it was worth it).

Why does it matter?

Well, the difference problem-solving skills can make for you, your life, and your career is nearly incalculable.

Things always come up in life. Flat tires. Unexpected bills. Relationships going sideways. Breakdowns of various shades and colors.

Most of us, at best, have thought of one or two ways of solving a problem, and if we were honest with ourselves, we’d see that the few solutions we’ve devised aren’t very effective.

For the most part, we should reserve the word “problem” for our competition, and stick to “challenges” for ourselves, but for the intents and purposes of this post, we’ll let “problem” stand.

Anyway, can you see how having one or two poorly crafted solutions to any problem is a position of compromise?

For instance, if you’re one unexpected bill away from declaring bankruptcy, you’re in a much direr situation than you even realize.

At the risk of triggering you, I need to point out that spending no time thinking about all possible solutions is intellectual laziness.

The reason it’s intellectual laziness is that it’s an indication you haven’t spent much time practicing realistic thinking in your thinking, reflection, and journaling time. That is, of course, if you’re spending any time thinking, reflecting, or journaling at all.

It’s good to adopt a positive mindset. After all, positive thinking improves your overall performance.

But if you’re not also looking at everything that could possibly go wrong with your plans, you’re being unreasonably sanguine about life and the situations it can present you with.

I’ve had flat tires (naturally), fridges and furnaces break down, people ghost me for seemingly innocuous reasons, and much, much more. It’s surprising the disruption and headaches these seemingly simple “problems” can cause in life.

But suffering is always optional. Because there’s something you can do about the situation.

Suffering is always optional. Because there’s something you can do about the situation. Share on X

Several years ago, I remember having a car window that went off the track. I knew that I could bring my car to a mechanic. But a little bit of research quickly revealed that the repair could be costly. The car was already 10 years old. I didn’t think the repair was going to be worth the cost. So, I bought a roll of duct tape and taped the window shut.

My business coach, at the time, said to me “That’s super entrepreneurial.”

This turned out to be the ideal solution because, as I recall, three out of four windows eventually all went off track. Then, the car engine took a turn for the worse and the poor Volkswagen broke down completely.

I’m not advocating doing what I did, taping car windows, especially given that authorities might not always look your way with a forgiving eye.

But I could have wasted a ton of money maintaining and repairing a car that was clearly on its last legs. Instead, I chose to handle the challenges with simplicity and ease, putting out a fire and moving on with my priorities.

To summarize, unfortunately, I must use a phrase that’s both a cliché and a rather ambiguous expression – think outside the box.

In every problem or challenge, look for every opportunity for resolution, not just one. It sounds intellectually exhausting, but to the contrary, I have found identifying and implementing unconventional solutions exhilarating.

The alternative is submitting to the “at the first sign of things going wrong, rob a bank” mentality glorified by films like Fun with Dick and Jane, and to me, that’s intellectual laziness of the tallest order. Not to mention, there’s a very good chance such an act would land you in jail.

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