Investors ask startup founders during a pitch: What problem are you trying to solve?
Consumers these days subconsciously or directly want to know: How can you solve a problem I have?
A boss or colleagues come to you with a question: What is the solution to this problem?
It seems our modern lives are characterized by problems! Pain points all around! But consider this: problems keep people busy. If you’re trying to be productive, you hit a curve. If you’re pursuing meaning, you encounter adversity. And amidst all this, your ability to solve problems is called forth and tested.
How about you include in your design the very idea that you’re a problem solver?
Sounds like a good problem, right? Let’s make this notion a bit concrete by looking at some principles and steps to becoming a problem solver.
Define the Problem
Kumail Nanjiani recently appeared on the Ellen Show, and in this clip he talked about how he was angry all day, yelling at people, honking, etc. And then he had a glass of water and realized he was just thirsty. Dehydration was the problem.
It’s a funny bit. But it also introduces the first principle/step neatly. (Thank you, Kumail.)
Define the problem. Spend time on it. Understand the dimensions of the problem. Get to its root cause.
To do this, employ the 5 Whys Technique. Developed by Sakichi Toyoda, whose son created car-maker brand Toyota, this method requires you to ask why 5 times to uncover a problem with multiple root causes. Or simply to arrive at the right question or problem. The fifth iteration is anecdotally observed to be enough in exploring cause-and-effect relationships. But you can go as high as sixth, seventh, eighth, and so on.
Another handy tool is related to the Socratic Method. Wait, you’ve heard this one before. I’m referring to inductive reasoning. This kind of reasoning starts with a conclusion you want to prove to be true.
Here’s how it can be applied. In charge of tourism efforts in your area, you conduct a focus group discussion on how to improve. You find out that a lack of transportation options is preventing people from exploring your sights. So you recommend close coordination with neighboring local areas to set up a point-to-point transport system.
In inductive reasoning, the premises seek to supply proof of the truth of a conclusion. You cannot, however, arrive logically at the certainty of the conclusion. By this approach, you can only obtain the probable cause of the problem. To better understand how it works, watch this Crash Course video on the subject:
Solo-Brainstorm 3 (or More) Solutions
You’ve reached the key step. This is important. A friend shared this with me, and it changed my perspective. If you’re given a problem or found one on your own, identify 3 solutions. I don’t mean, call a meeting and let people throw ideas. I mean, sit down, unleash your creativity, and come up with your ideas. It’s good exercise for your brain.
But there are also two reasons I’m encouraging you to go on an express solo-brainstorming session.
First, people’s creativity is unleashed when they’re asked to generate ideas privately. You read that right. Generating ideas is an individual task. You don’t need the company’s collective mind to birth ideas. Instead, teamwork is required when initial ideas have been gathered and sorted. That is when you need more heads to build on ideas with the highest potential.
Second, and this is for the greater good, it’s more productive to present solutions instead of problems. Absorb that statement. Perhaps recall how someone—a colleague or a friend—approached you with a laundry list of problems. And that person kept ranting the whole time. While it’s also cool to ask if they want to brainstorm solutions with you, you’d probably have liked it better if they consulted you with solutions instead.
It’s like, “Hey, boss/friend/partner/parent, what do you think of these solutions to our/your/my problem?” Wouldn’t that be a good use of everyone’s time? And let’s admit, listening to rants can be draining.
Share Your Hypotheses With Others
So, you have defined the problem and identified possible solutions. It’s time to see if your ideas hold water. This is the part where the teamwork comes in (from the earlier example). But if you’re working on a personal problem, inviting fresh eyes is just as necessary.
If you have a framework that you want everyone to use, share it with them, too. The 80/20 method is useful at this stage. Instead of proving or disproving the validity of each hypothesis, you can determine the most meaningful ones. Which among the proposed solutions will create the greatest impact? This is a good starting ground, especially if you’re working as a unit and potential solutions abound.
Check out the image below for one way to approach this phase:
As you can see above, you’re now encouraged to validate your hypotheses. In fact, if you can test your biggest assumptions more quickly, the better.
The example IBM gave relates to creating prototypes. But you can also try to apply that in your personal life. For instance, you can test your assumptions right away, such as in considering a more sustainable lifestyle. Just figure out how to do it without spending too much or wasting resources. Otherwise, it will kind of miss the point.
Analyze the Best Solution
Now, you may have reached the end stage of your problem-solving journey. At least for that one problem you’re working on. (There will be more to come. You know this.)
You might be thinking: What end stage? Didn’t you already apply the best solution in the previous step? Perhaps the proper term for this phase is post-mortem. That has nothing to do with anyone dying. But it has everything to do with the solution you just executed.
You should now evaluate if it was able to solve the problem. Are there aspects of the execution that you didn’t expect? What did you correctly predict? If it didn’t solve the problem, are you back at square one? Or can you move forward by integrating another hypothesis?
That’s a lot of questions! The questions never stop! I feel you. But it’s important to continue the process as long as your problem isn’t solved. But if you got it the first time, good for you. Now it’s time to solve another. What do you say about that, genius?
Bonus: Take Credit For What You Did
There’s a part of us that wants to share the glory with other people. Here’s an example. You’re interviewing for your dream job. The interviewer asks you to tell him or her about a time you solved a problem. Most people are hesitant to share their “most triumphant stories,” says HR expert Liz Ryan. They have to understand the person asking already knows you were working on it with a team.
“Just tell your problem-solving story and be proud of yourself for jumping in to make a positive impact way back when,” adds Ryan.
Two things to glean from this.
First, do not disqualify yourself from the job. You are a problem solver. So own your problem-solving stories. That doesn’t automatically mean you’re hogging the spotlight or discrediting your collaborators. Chances are you have solved a problem before, on your own or with others. How did you approach the situation? Is there something you can do to replicate what you did or revise it for future use?
Those questions lead us to the second point. And that is to keep refining your approach. Different problems require different approaches. Even one problem can be solved by looking at it from different angles. So, grow the confidence in your ability by trying out new things. Don’t rest on your laurels. You’re just as good as the last problem you solved.
7 Tips to Help You Live Your Day to The Fullest
Most people live their lives worrying about what will happen the next day, the next week, the next month, and so forth. These kinds of thoughts tend to shift the focus from living in the present, thereby, robbing you of the chance of enjoying your day to the fullest. So, if you have such a habit, then you should try out the following tips to make your daily life more simple, happy and comfortable.
1. Do One Fun Task
Life will become unbearable if you are only focused on your job and other serious facets of life. So, ensure that you do at least one fun activity every day. It need not take too much time. Anything from five minutes or an hour of some kind of activity that makes you laugh and puts you in a good mood will be enough to make your day brighter and happier. And, the best time to do it will be in the mornings, right before you set out for work.
For example, you can have a Nintendo Wii console set up at home and play a game for 10 to 15 minutes. The constant jumping around with the controls will not only be a good way to loosen up the stiff muscles, but will also help you have fun. Plus, you will head to work with a very positive mood.
2. Spend Some Time With Your Loved Ones
Human beings are social animals who seek the love of the people they hold dear. If you neglect the instinct to be with your loved ones, you will definitely become emotionally distant and cold as the years pass by. So, if you have been neglecting the company of your family or other important people in your life, try spending some time with them on a daily basis.
If you are married, then you can set aside 30 minutes for watching your favorite TV program or cook dinner together. If you have children, then you can play some games with them for an hour or so. By spending some quality time with loved ones every day, you will make your life joyful.
3. Learn Something New
In order to constantly improve oneself, it is necessary that one learns new things. So, why not learn something new every day? Now, learning does not mean that you need to spend hours and hours pouring yourself into various texts and videos. That will obviously complicate your life unnecessarily. Instead, spend just 20 to 30 minutes a day on learning something new.
And over years, you will have accumulated enough knowledge about a wide range of subjects. Plus, learning new things on a daily basis also gives a big boost to your confidence, helping you do your job with more assurance.
4. Help Someone
When people help someone, they generally tend to feel good about themselves. And, you, too, should try to make it a policy to help someone every day. The very fact that you can become useful to someone in need will definitely put you in a better frame of mind.
So, if you see an old lady struggling with taking the groceries to her car, help her with that. If you see a child crying because he cannot get the basketball that has bounced far away, then help the child recover it. And, if you don’t have the time to involve yourself physically, then you can look for digital options. There are many crowdfunding websites that raise money for various social causes. Search for them and make it a habit to donate a dollar or two every day to a good cause.
5. Finish Your Daily Job Without Postponing It
You need to work daily in order to live. Additionally, you might also be working at a job that you are neither fond of nor attached to. However, this does not mean that you should begin to resent your work and life.
That will make the days stressful and can drive you into depression and to other psychological disorders. So, the best thing you can do is to ensure that you complete all your work for the day. Do nothing more and nothing less. Perform your assigned work perfectly and never postpone it to other days. And, by effectively managing your work, you will have enough time every day to do something else that you like.
The vast majority of urban people have been reported to be stressed due to their daily work schedules. And this stress can prevent you from truly enjoying your free time. As such, it is recommended that you start learning meditation. Implement the meditative techniques in your daily life for 15 to 20 minutes at least.
This will calm down your mind and help you manage the stress in a more efficient manner, enabling you to properly enjoy the simple pleasures of daily life. So, check out the nearest meditation center and plan out your schedule. You will surely develop a calmer outlook towards life and work after only a few weeks of daily meditation.
Finance is one of the biggest worries for most people. It is possible that such thoughts might hijack your entire day and keep you from focusing on other activities properly. As such, it is very important that you learn to manage your finances in an efficient way.
A good way to deal with it is to set out the budget for the current day every morning and follow it strictly. That’s it. You don’t have to worry about anything else. Shift all the long-term financial planning to the weekend when you will have more time on your hands to plan. This will ensure that you don’t worry about money on a daily basis.
To live your life to the fullest, it is important to identify what makes you happy and content. When you know what makes your life feel complete, it becomes easier to find ways to include more of it in your life. No matter how small something is, if it makes you feel good then you should surely work on making it a part of your life.
5 Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose
Many people tend to get confused, often in the middle of their adulthood, as to their purpose in life. And as the quintessential question remains unanswered, the more disturbing life gets. After all, human beings can only be at peace when they do things that are in accordance with their nature and instincts. I am listing out a few questions that can help you figure out your purpose in life.
1. What Have Been Your Longest Desires?
There are some desires that have existed deep within our hearts for a very long time. Knowing what those deepest desires are and learning to accept them is the first stage in identifying ‘the purpose’. Most people generally tend to subdue such desires replacing it with the life of a 9 to 5 employee.
And this can eventually cause one to live an unfulfilled existence since he/she is essentially living a life they do not like. The only way out of such a situation is to bring your deep desires up to the surface and start working on them. This would bring out a profound satisfaction that will begin to transform your everyday life.
For example, if you have been dreaming of becoming a painter since childhood, then you should try joining a few painting classes and hone your talents. If you are busy, sign up for some online classes which can be attended during your free time. As you spend more time on your painting, you’ll feel that you’ve started to enjoy life more since you are no longer suppressing an innate desire.
2. What Hobbies Do You Spend Your Most Time On?
This is an important question to consider. Prepare a list of hobbies on which you spend most of your time. Look at the list and find out your favorite hobby. We can consider this as one of your passions. After all, if you are willing to spend so much time on something, then it must be because you are totally into it, either knowingly or unknowingly.
This will let you know what you should aim for in life, professionally or personally. For example, if you see that you spend most of your time tracking updates about NBA, then you should ideally look for a job of a content producer where you are tasked with posting latest news about the game.
3. What Would You Change If You Were to Die a Year From Now?
Imagine that you will be dying a year from now. What are the things you would want to do within the remaining year? Write them down. Maybe you want to travel to a few places but never had the time or you want to spend the remaining time with your closest family members.
Whatever it may be, look for things which you want to do the most. Those things can be considered as your driving force. Changing your life to adopt it will only enable you to live a happier life. For example, if you think that you will choose to give up all your wealth in the final year so that the needy can have a helping hand, then you should try and include a few charity programs in your life as that’s your purpose.
4. What Will Make You Give Up Your Current Career?
If you have a successful career but are not satisfied, then ask yourself what will make you give up this career. What activity could be so appealing to you that you will be ready to leave the financial safety provided by your career just so you can be a part of that activity? Maybe you work as an investment banker at a major financial company and have always been interested in acting.
Now, ask yourself, if a small acting gig were to come your way with the possibility of larger roles in the future, would you still continue being an investment banker? Or, will you decide that enough is enough, and resign from the job so that you can pursue your dreams? If you have chosen the second option, then it may be good for you to start dedicating yourself in some acting gigs. This will help you balance out the drudgery of being an investment banker.
It doesn’t have to be any major roles. Instead, small roles in a web series will be sufficient. That will give you a good idea as to what is needed to become a full-time actor. And when a good opportunity comes knocking, you can then decide whether to leave the job for good and start living your dream.
5. What Type Of Causes Do You Spend Most Time On?
Most people are obsessed with causes. It can range from personal and community to social and national causes. Knowing which causes you deeply care about will show you what your heart truly wants to do.
For example, suppose that you have a strong feeling about the environment and constantly track all news about environmental damage and protective measures. You might also be very vocal about saving the environment when chatting with friends at a coffee shop or with strangers in Facebook groups. This would indicate that one of the primary focal points in your life is environmental protection. As such, the best thing you can do will be to involve yourself in such causes. This will align your personal drive with your daily life ensuring that you live life exactly the way you want.
While the above questions will help you find out your life’s purpose, be sure to be level-headed when taking any decision. Don’t just blindly go after any desire you have thinking that it will satisfy you. That usually doesn’t work out for anyone! Only seek to fulfil those desires, causes, and drives that you know are fundamental to your identity and which you will always care about; no matter how old you get or the changes in your circumstance.
Top 6 Lies That Are Holding You Back
Many people have certain beliefs or ‘lies’ that hold them back. These lies are so deep-rooted in their psyche that they restrict them from utilizing their full potential, and deny them new experiences and opportunities for personal growth. We will look at six such lies that tend to hold people back.
1. I Can’t Do It
The biggest lie that limits most people in their life includes just four words – “I Can’t Do It”. This belief alone will shatter anyone’s faith and keep them restricted to a basic lifestyle when they could have achieved much more. This belief exists mostly because of two reasons – either you were fed this belief from a young age or you never developed enough confidence.
Some parents tend to be so overprotective of their children that they actively discourage the kids from trying out certain things. This can slowly creep into the child’s psyche forming the idea that they cannot do certain things.
For example, if a parent always scolds their child when they try to do some physical activity like jumping off the stairs, climbing on the tree, etc.; then inevitably the child will absorb such restrictions as suggestions. And as the child grows, not only will they give up on such physical activities like sports, but may also become averse to it. Simply thinking that they won’t be able to do it would lead them to make such decisions.
If you suffer from this belief, then you must understand that this lack of confidence that ‘I can’t do it’ is what limits your life. The truth of the matter is that until you try out something, you will never know whether you are good at it. As such, holding back from new activities is kind of illogical.
2. People Will Not Like Me If I Do Something Like That
The next biggest belief that can hold someone back is the idea that “people will not like it if I do something like that.” This fear that other people will see your actions with disapproving eyes may have some truth. However, you have to understand that you don’t exist to live your life as per other people’s likes and dislikes.
Plus, there is no guarantee that people might end up disliking you just because you tried out something they are not fond of. Do what you like to do, and maybe people will start to change their opinions and also start liking what you do.
So, take some initiative, find out what your interests are, and try to involve yourself in them without a care of what others might think. At the very least, they will respect you for doing what you believe in and what you like.
3. If I Fail At Something, It Means I’m Not Good At It
If you fail at something, it does not mean that you are not good at it. Instead, it simply means that you just failed at that particular thing. That’s it. If people gave up on their dreams the first time they failed at anything new, then we would still be living in caves.
You only fail when you give up trying. As long as you keep trying, use all the past failures to understand why you failed and make sure never to repeat the errors, you are succeeding. Eventually, you will be able to do what you want. It may take fifty, a hundred, or two hundred attempts but if you stick to your goal with absolute dedication, you have one hundred percent chance of succeeding at it. So, forget this lie about being a failure and give everything you have to the task.
4. It May Be Okay For Them, But Not For Me
Some people also think that there are some things that other people can do but they themselves should not attempt. This is also a big lie that cripples their lives. Such a belief normally stems from harboring a kind of inferiority complex in which a person holds themselves ‘lesser’ than others.
For example, imagine that someone is raised in a very restrictive environment and is rather shy. When such a person starts working together with outgoing extroverts, there is a good chance that they might see others as ‘better’ than themselves. As such, if a situation came where the company was looking for an employee to represent them in an overseas event, then the person might hold themselves back allowing others to take up that opportunity.
5. I’m Not Attractive Enough to Be Loved or Accepted
Every human being wants to be loved. But unfortunately, some people think that they are not good looking enough to be loved or even accepted by others. This is a pretty nasty lie that can keep a person secluded all their lives. It is important to understand and accept that the character of a person matters more than the looks.
If you have a pleasant personality, people will be happy to be your friends. And, if you know how to crack jokes and make people laugh, then looks literally become irrelevant. So, do not reduce yourself to your physical appearance alone. Furthermore, if any such negative belief has made you an introvert, then break through those feelings. Just be comfortable with yourself and start interacting with people. You will soon see that your attitude alone can carry you far ahead in life.
6. Since I Don’t Know How to Do It, I Should Probably Not Try Doing It
Do you think humankind would have progressed if every single person was averse to trying out new things just because they did not know how to do it? No!
So, why do you hold yourself back from trying out new things even though you might not know anything about it? Get out of your comfort zone and try out new things and experiences. Find someone who might know the task you don’t know anything about and learn from their experiences. Then, start doing the task yourself. As long as you keep such a lie away from your life, your mind will always be ready to absorb everything the world has to offer.
One main thing that can fight all these lies is self-confidence. Confidence in yourself is the key to doing what you want to do without caring about the world or your own limitations. It gives you the ability to put yourself out there and chase your dreams. So, what you need to fight these lies is develop self-confidence and you will have the fuel needed to propel yourself forward.
5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Goals And Double Your Success Rate
Qualities of Humorous People that Give Huge Benefits in Life
How Making Decisions Using the 10/10/10 Method Can Change Your Life
The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting
5 Reasons to Set Goals If You Want to Succeed
5 Essential Ways to Thrive in a Fast-Changing World
How Can Procrastination Make Your Work Better
7 Tips to Recreate Your Life In 3 Months and Change Your Destiny
5 Things to Focus On if You Want to be Successful
How to Use Your Calendar to Increase Productivity and Achieve Big Goals
Productivity5 months ago
7 Ways To Increase Productivity At Work
Quotes5 months ago
27 of the Most Powerful Quotes of All Time
Productivity5 months ago
Things 3 Review – A To-Do App That Works
Productivity5 months ago
You Don’t Need To Be Busy To Be Productive
Goals5 months ago
How Setting Realistic Goals Can Actually Help You Achieve Them
Entrepreneurs4 months ago
1Password Review – The Best Password Manager Out There
Entrepreneurs5 months ago
9 Warren Buffett Quotes for Start-Ups to Live By
Goals5 months ago
5 Science-Backed Steps to Setting and Achieving Your Goals