28 Jan 2023

The true mark of your intelligence and your creativity is your ability to solve problems and make decisions. Whatever title is written on your business card, your true job description is “problem solver.”

From the time you start work in the morning until the time you quit for the day, and afterward, you are solving problems, small and large, all day long.

General Colin Powell said, “Leadership is the ability to solve problems.” Success is the ability to solve problems as well. A goal or an objective unachieved, in any area, is merely a problem unsolved.

This is why a systematic approach to problem-solving, one that works at a higher level and more consistently, is absolutely vital for you to achieve the maximum success that is possible for you.

Think About Solutions

As it happens, successful people think about solutions most of the time. Unsuccessful people think about problems most of the time. Successful people think about how to solve the problem or remove the obstacle and what actions can be taken immediately to improve the situation.

Unsuccessful people think about the problem and who is to blame. They allow themselves to become angry and upset about a problem that occurs or an obstacle that arises. This triggers negative thinking, anger, and the search for the guilty party—“Who did it?” But it does nothing to help them find the solution.

Unlock Your Creative Powers

There are three keys to unlocking your creative powers that we have spoken about before. They are clarity, focus, and concentration.

First, you must be clear about the goal but flexible about the process of achieving it. Keep an open mind. Be willing to consider a variety of different ways to achieve the same result.

Second, focus. Bring all of your brainpower, and that of others, to focus like a laser beam on a single problem, obstacle, or difficulty, without diversion or distraction. Stay on one subject at a time.

Third, concentration. Put aside everything else, and concentrate 100 percent until you have solved your biggest problem or achieved your most important goal.

Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, tells the story of the fox and the hedgehog, which comes from an essay by Isaiah Berlin. He says that the fox is very clever and knows many things.

But the hedgehog is more successful because he knows one big thing. Clarity, focus, and concentration enable you to bring all your mental powers to bear on solving one big problem or achieving one big goal.

Multitasking Versus Task Switching

Constantly responding to e-mails, text messages, and phone calls force the individual to engage in what is called multitasking. However, this is more rightly defined as task switching. You are not doing several tasks; instead, you are switching back and forth, from one task to another and then back again.

According to one study, it takes you about seventeen minutes after you have broken off a task to respond to an incoming message for you to get back “on task” again.

Throughout the day, your attention switches back and forth, like a windshield wiper, seldom completing anything of value. When you add in social media and the obsession that many people have with checking online In, you have a formula for career disaster. This is why they say,

“Social networking is social not working.” The solution is simple. Leave things off. Check your mail twice a day, at 11:00 a.m. and at 3:00 p.m. Other than that, turn everything off so that you can dedicate yourself single-mindedly to the task at hand.


1. Select one problem that you or your business is wrestling with today and put it through the systematic method of problem-solving. It could change your future

2. Identify one goal that you have and determine the biggest constraint, the limiting factor that sets the speed at which you achieve that goal. What could you do to alleviate this constraint?

3. Select one product or service you offer and develop as many ways as possible to make it better, faster, or cheaper for your customers.

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