Strong Within Personal Development Challenge 25: Are You Looking at the Problem Backwards?

Young business woman trapped in a cubicle looking confusedIt’s easy to look at the world and say what the problem is. It’s easy to look at other people’s lives and tell them they didn’t get it right, it’s easy to look at our lives and find all the mistakes we made. I believe there is value in seeing the whole picture and not ignoring information, but I think we are looking at the equation of life backwards. It’s easy to see the problems, it might even be said that we are hard wired to look for the problems first. But what if you chose to see life differently, what if you decided to look at life (externally and internally) through a solution focused lens.

Let’s be frank, the reason people look through a problem focused lens is: it’s easier. It’s harder to individualize and step back to see the bigger picture and ask questions that search for the solution instead of focusing on the problems. I get in this argument all the time – well aren’t both of those arguments the same? I say no. The reason being is a problem focused outlook will look at the weakness and ask how do we get over, through, or around this obstacle; and the solution based approach will look at the strengths a person has and say what if there was no obstacle (for sometimes the obstacle was created because we decided it was there)? Each outlook comes from opposite sides of the spectrum.

It is my belief and experience that when using a problem focused lens I am limiting and focusing on negativity first. When I step back and take a bigger look at my strengths and the strengths of those involved in the issue I come with an open heart, mind, body and spirit. I am more positive, realistic, optimistic and open to an amazing solution/s. I saw a TV show the other day that focused on the concept of radical honesty. Meaning that they would say what was on their mind at all times and not hold back, no matter how tough or mean it was. I think honesty is a good thing but what I saw in this episode was pure pessimism. Where it was ok to tear another person down because they (the radically honest people) were feeling that way. I saw their radically honesty not as truth but the easy way out to see problems as they are instead of looking through the lens of seeing the world how we want it to be.

Life is simpler than we make it. The more we look towards what we want the more we will transition to have those things we want in our lives. So, I want to ask the question of “are you looking at life through a problem based approach or solution based method?” There is no one right way, but one way will foster more efficient results than the other. I don’t think it should be an all or nothing stance, but how can we find balance in both ways. I can guarantee about 75-95% of people on this earth work with a problem focused approach towards reaching a goal. BE DIFFERENT! So if we were to take a solution based outlook towards our lives what would it entail?

1) Figure out your strengths. We go throughout our life not really knowing who we are and what characteristics are natural to us and which ones we need a little more work on. In my life coaching practice I ask a question that a lot of my clients don’t have an answer to- What are your strengths? I will get answers like I don’t really know, I haven’t thought about it, or I get even answers that label what they do not who they are underneath such as I am good at sports, or I am a good lawyer, teacher, mother, etc. I am not saying stating your profession is bad but it doesn’t tell me who you are. Like a teacher might be strong in kindness, have a great social presence, have perspective, and great leadership qualities. Everyone is different and we all value and embody our strengths differently. When we know what characteristics are strong within us we can figure out why we do things, what is important to us, and how to move forward in ways that are congruent and not hinder some to who we are.

2) Look backwards. We look towards the problem first and ask questions like what is going wrong, how come this doesn’t work, what’s the problem etc. What if we asked a different question looking at the end first (the solution)? What if there were no obstacles in my way how would this look, am I utilizing or underutilizing my strengths in this endeavor, what is my main goal here?

3) Apply your solutions and new outlook. Now while this sounds simple and self-explanatory it gets overlooked quite often. We love to plan and think things out, write things down, get advice, etc. but we move on to the next problem before applying our full efforts into the endeavor. Maybe it might be utilizing a little more perseverance or bravery into the matter. Each person is different, and we all value our strengths differently. There is one word I hear over and over again that can be a hindrance towards reaching a goal… I will TRY. There is nothing inherently wrong with the word TRY, but TRYING gives us a way out. Don’t TRY; go beyond and DO.

Let me know what you think about this by commenting on my page. Would love to have a discussion and hear your thoughts about this. If you have been considering life coaching fill out my free session application or contact me directly at . Would love to help you in creating a purpose and total wellness plan to fill in the areas of your life you feel are missing. Make it a great day, and create a Strong Within life by seeing how you can look at the issue differently to more solution oriented approaches and answers.

© 2013 Chris O’Hearn all rights reserved

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One comment on “Strong Within Personal Development Challenge 25: Are You Looking at the Problem Backwards?

  1. Mike Asbury on said:

    Excellent post! Well stated, Sir! I especially like “Don’t TRY; go beyond and DO.” I love your spirit!

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