Problem Solving Skills
Author: Byron Pulsifer © 2017
One significant attribute one can possess is problem solving skills. This skill means that you possess:
1) the ability to analyze a problem and it’s components;
2) the ability to utilize lateral thinking which means solving a problem by an indirect or creative approach typically through viewing the problem in a new and unusual light, and not by a step-by-step logical process;
3) the ability to take the initiative to work toward a resolution;
4) the ability to apply consistent logical reasoning with each step dependent on the last logical conclusion; and,
5) the ability to persevere to the final resolution without giving up.
No Guarantees To Problem Solving The First Time
Each of the above attributes intermingles with the desire to reach a satisfactory result or conclusion but this may not be linear or straight forward without also considering the necessity of re-focusing along the way when one hits a roadblock or obstacle. In addition, problem solving does not mean that success simply because all of the above skills are utilized correctly.
The point raised here is that one can apply each necessary problem solving skill but still end up in failure in that the problem has not been suitably resolved.
So, what does this mean as it applies to problem solving skills?
One Great Skill In Problem Solving
We have been talking about the necessary skill sets that one must possess as he/she works towards solving an issue, challenge or problem. As well, however, applying each skill set does not guarantee success in that these skills applied properly can still lead to failure to arrive at a preferred solution or result.
Failure is not eliminated just because one has utilized each and every skill as a component of problem solving skills but this leads to one skill set that seems to become superior in all of the skill sets. And, this skill is that of perseverance.
Perseverance To Master Problems
So, what does perseverance mean? It means that one possesses persistence, tenacity, determination, and staying power. This in turn means, when applied to a problem or issue that needs to be resolved, that the individual never gives up, never quits and never sees defeat until the problem, challenge, project, obstacle is resolved to a satisfactory level.
The ability to persevere is one of the dominate features of those people who have succeeded in various endeavors be that in business, politics, education or artistic expression. Perseverance is the one quality that equally applies to those people who strive to build or improve a skill as can be more often visibly seen in hockey, basketball, swimming, curling or any competitive sport. It is the same quality that has seen marvelous break throughs in medicine and space travel.
Application of Problem Solving Skills In Teamwork
At the same time as we talk about the problem solving skills of individuals, we can also speak to the advantages of using these skill sets in teamwork in a work environment.
One of the first applications of these attributes is a mindset that is not focused or fixated on a problem but is immediately moved to a mindset that envisions arriving at a solution. Its’ components do not differ as applied in a team environment in that a structured team identifies the issue to be resolved and dissects component parts that lead to the problem occurring in the first place.
However, once these elements have been identified, the team refocuses their minds on devising options to resolve the issue at hand. The development of various options involves dissecting each option logically to determine, if by following the course dictated by this option, whether a satisfactory solution will be the result.
It is within the team structure utilizing problem solving skills that each team member presents their personal and unique skill that enhances or makes up for a skill that may not be possessed by one of the other team members. The synthesis of these individual skills allows for a more complete approach to the issue at hand.
The unique challenge of many team leaders is to help channel or develop skills sets that may not have been used in the past given that vestiges of the old management style may still be engrained. This is to say that in management styles of yesterday it was not component members of the unit who devised resolutions or offered solutions to a problem but, instead, it was the purview or role of the manager or even senior staff. It was direction from top down rather than contributions from the bottom up.
What Problem Solving Skills Are Not
Problem solving skills have nothing to do with luck. Too often people who view the success of an individual or organization from outside looking in do not see the work that went into moving the yardsticks forward or in designing a new approach to a business model or in persevering when thousands of others would have given in and quit. While the attitude that luck is the primary difference between success and failure would be a good excuse to easily accept the defeatist position in life, it is one that is untrue.
Failure Means To Learn Not Quit
The problem with the definition of failure is that it does not present the positive side. By this I mean that failure is not the end of the game but only an opportunity to start afresh taking advantage of problem solving skills that show what went right more than what went wrong. Failure has been the greatest teacher there is for many thousands upon thousands of those people who used their skills to divest themselves of the emotionalism applied to failure.
Eliminating the emotion from failure, which is inner directed by proclaiming self-unworthiness, is one of the key ingredients in formulating a better definition of failure. This means that failure is not directed at the person’s inner attributes but, instead, is only directed at the actions of a person. This in turn means that actions taken should be viewed more as a work performance issue where the behaviors and actions are in question but in no way questions the self-worth of the individual.
When you subtract or eliminate the emotionalism from the failure equation, you are left with evaluating non-emotional action steps that resulted in being unable to achieve the desired result. And, this leads the individual to refrain from any inner doubts that they may have accepted and more to analyzing observable miss steps in their problem solving plan.
The Key Ingredient
Many, many successful people met what appeared to be insurmountable challenges or problems on their way to achieve success such as Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Thomas Jefferson, Yani, Thomas Jefferson, Walt Disney and the list goes on and on. If you think that problem solving skills and the major element of perseverance is untrue, I would seriously recommend spending time reading the biographies of the aforementioned list of achievers. I know by your review of their success stories that you will find perseverance was at the heart of their universal success stories.
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
Take a few minutes and reflect on the attitudes of these people as you read their quotes:
“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” Thomas Jefferson
“Focused will is incredible. If you have a dream and you don’t give up no matter what obstacles come up, then life’s problems will fall away and you will get what you want. It happens. It works.” Yanni
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Henry Ford
“Results! Why man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know of several thousand things that won’t work.” Thomas Edison
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein
What each success story has in common is the obstacles faced and overcome by those who we now see as successful. Were they lucky? Hardly. What is often unknown, or conveniently forgotten, is how many failures these people endured before they reached their goal. The commonality among all these people is that they never gave up. For them, each new challenge was an opportunity to excel at life, to persevere in spite of at times seemingly overwhelming odds.
As Walt Disney once said,
“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
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