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Motivation

How to Find Three Solutions to Any Problem You Encounter

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How to Find Three Solutions to Any Problem You Encounter

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.

How to Find Three Solutions to Any Problem You Encounter

Credit: Buffer

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.

How to Find Three Solutions to Any Problem You Encounter

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:


Credit: IBM

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?

How to Find Three Solutions to Any Problem You Encounter

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.

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Motivation

Do you Want to Change your Status to Active this Pandemic

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Since early childhood, adolescence, and adulthood one is constantly pushed to achieve smaller and larger goals. This push takes the form of a motivational factor that helps an individual grow and move ahead in their day to day activities, to feel content, happy, and alive. But, sometimes these motivational factors could be hindered due to various elements and situations. This effect turns into demotivated behavior, further manifest in various physical and mental forms that hinder their well-being. The constant build-up of this demotivated mindset reflects in an individual in how they approach the daily task of getting up, feeling anxious to complete their routines, and go about their day. Hence motivation is an important driving force to accomplish any action. According to Kendra Cherry, an educational consultant in her article titled “What is Motivation” published in Verywell Mind describes ‘Motivation’ as a force that pushes you to act, initiate and guide goal-oriented behavior. In her article, she further focuses on two types of motivations extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is an external driving force that pushes a person to work. Theses motivators could be rewards such as praise, money, recognition. While intrinsic motivation would be pushing to try something new, or the mere satisfaction that one gets with a task. Hence the internal push to complete the given task.

Similarly, motivation is an important asset required for a smooth functioning workplace, without which the productivity levels amongst their employees would drop. The growing pandemic crisis, foreign to many, has had a toll on the productivity levels of employees. With the shift to an online base as well as work from home situations the concerns of both the organization and employees increase. Humans by nature are known to be social beings. Hence seeing other people work around makes one introspect and motivates themselves. But, with the sudden isolation, individuals seem to have a hard time adjusting and hence have been slacking in their work. An added factor is that many employees have even been sacked, as companies have been trying to cope with this epidemic and its repercussion on them. Which has drastically dropped the motivation factors for many, as this had an effect on their confidence. Levels of productivity drop during work from home, explained by an article posted by welcome to the jungle, the article emphasizes that fewer rewards, micromanagement and lack of team spirit affect individuals working from home. Companies have even been concerned about their employee’s mental health issues in the past, but with the growing demotivation, mental health concerns have been on a rise. This is due to the state of work, where many are unable to reach deadlines, procrastinate, having increasing panic and anxiety levels. Hence as an extrinsic force companies need to find new ways to push their employees. 

For the ones working from home this shift in their environment, and scenery has made them confused and lack energy. The home environment might not be pleasant for many to work in while others would be missing their colleagues and their office. With the ongoing crisis, we lose motivation due to the panic and anxiety from thinking about the future. They worry about their job, family, friends start to cloud their mind adding to this, one starts to seem unfocused with the growing distractions in the surroundings. These distractions could be of various kinds, which would lead to one feeling lazy and procrastinate and hence lose productivity. Therefore on an intrinsic level, individuals need to apply various coping strategies to push themselves and to be more productive. 

During the normal working of companies, they have had activities and events to promote motivational behavior in their employees. Due to the current online shift, there needs to be a more unique and creative method to indulge them. These methods could be having online office parties, where individuals can come and interact with their peers, have a one on one with various employees and talk to them about things apart from work, promote other activities such as online courses, readings, etc., to keep them engaged and break the monotonous routine, finally have a more free-flowing communication and interaction with them. In terms of work-related encouragement, organizations could let workers control their schedule, while still maintaining deadlines, making the effort to reach out to them and ask about their online weekly plan, and commitment and helping them sort their schedules from time to time.

While on an individual level, employees need to declutter their home routine. Trying to focus on themselves while giving time to work as well. They need to be kind to themselves, as the situation at hand can be quite frustrating. Having a schedule in place as well as indulging in tasks that would excite them apart from work needs to be done. Having persistent movement in terms of the body by exercising at home, meditating, and also joining online yoga or Zumba classes can be quite helpful. As this would help them stay guided and increase energy levels. Apart from this one should strive to break the routine by reading, joining constructive online courses, and also increase online human interaction. Mental health should not be taken for granted, there needs to be open communication between the organization and the individual as these times are hard on everyone, but we need to work together to surpass this. Organizations need to have online counseling sessions, and individuals should try to be open about these sessions.  

Final Thoughts 

It is the onus of the organization and the self to build motivation in such unfortunate situations. Organizations and employees need to work together to push past these situations and help one another. This is possible to maintain by having feedback from both parties, as this would help understand what would work best for the onscreen future. 

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Motivation

Ways to Stay Motivated During Pandemic

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Motivation is the kick-start one needs to execute his daily tasks and when lacking, can certainly take things downhill.

Depression

Anxiety

Stress

Mood swings

Thoughts of quitting

Uncertainties

Doubts

These emotions are very common for one to experience when locked up in a house of four walls for around 90 days.

A day without inspiration can make you feel like a failure and that you aren’t working to your optimum. What is there to read here is, machines break down too because of constant wear and tear, you are a human and your unproductive days don’t reflect your negligence. Instead, they are your body’s way of indicating the red-signal of overwork.

In times of low encouragement, it becomes necessary to take care of your mental health. A strong and calm mind at peace is the key to work effectively and efficiently.

Read through a few things listed below that you could resort to, to bounce back in action.

Most importantly, accept and embrace your present condition. It’s you who has to be okay with the fact that you cannot always be at the top of the work ladder. Like it is said – ‘It is okay to be not okay’. Acceptance is the first step towards overcoming a shortfall.

The second in line is to embrace this feeling. Accepting and pushing it in a corner does no good, rather it affects your immunity towards stress. Let your mind and body feel the laziness and the inertness.

It’s like applying the law of diminishing marginal utility – consuming the item until you no more feel the need of having it.

The key to a healthy mind is a nutritious food and plenty of fluids. Eating proper and in regular intervals keeps your form intact and chances of losing focus reduces.

Once you are full, it’s important to stay woke and digest the meal so as to not feel sleepy again. Maintain a strict yet flexible exercise routine to stay fit and away from usual illness.

Normally a light or a loose day is when you don’t have a set pattern to follow. Your work isn’t prioritized appropriately and you end up eating your ‘me’ time stressing over the fact that it’s too much to complete and you are just there wasting time.

A break from usual activities is necessary to relax.

An insight into what you are outside of your office is essential to not lose touch with your real self. During this, you could decide to spend time with your family and connect virtually with your friends too, however it is recommended to not blend in both.

In a span of 24 hours out of which if your office hours include 8-9, a slot for your oneself and family/friends can definitely be separately divided. This will not only give you more time to spend out of work but also be a good way to schedule your free time.

Oh, how we love to binge-watch web series! Take that love and squeeze it to the last drop. Revisit your favorite shows and movies to keep the sense of authenticity alive.

It is extremely important to know and understand your own capacity. Ambition and high standards are good however in the short term these can impact you negatively if not achieved. Listing down short and achievable goals not only are easy but also help boost your morale, giving you the push that is very much needed.

‘No news is a good news’ – one remains unaffected until he is brought face to face with the harsh reality. Hence, it is advised to stay away from social media and news. I am not referring to complete closure, but anything in excess is dangerous thus limited exposure to media and channels will pose beneficial.

Lastly, talking about a point that I mentioned earlier – it is essential to keep a check on your mental health. Many times this is considered to be a taboo which is why people are afraid of being judged if they come out clean. What they don’t realize is this is ultimately doing more damage to their own mind space.

There’s no shame in speaking about what you truly feel and what are the various things that trouble you. In fact, sharing struggles help you feel light and once your mind is empty, it clears a pathway for ideas and solutions to flow.

Take professional help if need be. These are the people who are meant to listen to you and are trained to guide you in the right manner for dealing with stress. If you aren’t comfortable with this, just talking to a family member or a trusted friend also perfectly substitutes the above.

Covid-19 is a severe situation and is getting under the nerves of a lot of people. With nation-wide lock-down and social-distancing and work from home, things have been a bit dicey. There is no certainty of what might happen the next moment and thus extra caution and attention to the well-being of self is the need of the hour.

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Motivation

Why You Should Consider Adopting Strays over Buying Pets?

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Adopting: What it Means?

Have you ever felt that feeling of intense bliss run over your soul when your puppy comes running to you at the end of the day? Or when your cat purrs sweetly right across your chest while you unwind after long hours of work? Even if you don’t have a furry friend or any other one at home, don’t you wish to live such moments of bliss?

Pets are one of the most rewarding experiences in our life. Through their incredibly kind and innocent ways of being, they give that inner peace we all crave for. If you look into your dog’s eyes, you will see nothing but pure love looking back at you. There are no layers or hidden agendas behind their emotions; all they need is your attention and care.

pets

They enter our lives with their tiny paws but soon become a part of life, our journey, and of course, our favorite friend. But, if you are thinking of buying a pet, take a pause and reflect. What if you adopt one instead of buying? Have you ever wondered about that?

Yes, I know you might argue about getting a purebred, healthy, easy to train pup from the store rather than a grown-up four-legged friend from the rescue and shelter home. But think carefully, does that sound like a really viable argument?

Adopting an animal from the rescue shelter could give them new hope and a new home. Every pet deserves a loving home. Unfortunately, every year thousands of cats and dogs and other pets are abandoned by their human parents, and these poor creatures are left to fend for themselves. Your one act of kindness has the potential to change their lives.

To help another life is an exhilarating experience, especially when that helps change their lives and makes it much better. Adopting a homeless furry fellow gives you life-long support of unconditional love and the warmth of home to your friend.

While you are happily shopping for a new pet, a stray is eagerly looking for a new beginning. To be honest, whether it is adoption or buying, a pet is a pet, forever loyal, loving, and a true friend. 

There are millions of strays around the world living off scrapes and occasional pats of kindness. Think about the difference you can make by adopting one of them. I know that won’t be a solution for the million others, but hey, a step is all it takes to bring about change.

Especially in the current COVID-19 situation, pets are being abandoned, every day. These animals need your help more than ever. 

The Things You should Know About Adopting

Here are some of the common myth-busters and benefits of adopting a pet, that I have summarised:

  • The Purebred myth: Just because you are adopting doesn’t mean you won’t get a purebred. In fact, you can also get high-quality mixed breed dogs at shelter homes.
  • Inducted to a new community of pet-lovers: Once you adopt, you build a relationship with the shelter homes, and one day you might end up volunteering for the good cause!
  • Be an example: Adopting is a gesture of goodwill. By doing this, you can set an example for your kids and family about how to make a difference in the world.
  • Many breeders have a sort of puppy or kitten mill, where they are kept in constricted spaces. By adopting, you can put an end to such practice of keeping these happy paws in confined, unhealthy spaces.
  • Health woes: You do not need to fret about more impoverished health conditions of strays compared to pets bought from stores. Before you bring the adopted pet home, spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and other medical tests are done to ensure health safety.
  • Behavior: Animals living in shelter homes, although coming from adverse conditions, in many instances, cope well with other fellow beings since they stay in the company.
  • Money factor: When you buy a pet, you end up spending hundreds of dollars, but with adoption, it’s free, and you get the same kind, loving furry friend on your porch!
  • Please give them a lifetime home: That does not need any description, and the feeling involved in doing it is priceless.

Final Words

The decision to have a pet is a huge step in itself. It is almost like bringing a kid home. You have to care, nurture, and provide for them continually. No doubt, it is a big responsibility as well. But if you have taken that decision, why not move a step further? 

There are so many shelter homes and rescue animals around the world. So, why not adopt and give life a new meaning, for a furry fellow waiting out there, with its bright, honest eyes filled with love and gratitude?

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