#2: Don't let problems get in your way from working joyfully
Today I escaped from the crush of circumstances, or better put, I threw them out, for the crush wasn’t from outside me but in my own assumptions.”
Back in business school, I participated in three business case competitions.
These events were 3-day marathons of non-stop problem-solving. And getting to the finish line included:
unhealthy sleeping schedules
snacking on junk food
and hysterical laughing
To date, I credit these competitions for my consulting mindset.
But solving problems doesn’t have to be this unstable 😂.
While some problems can demand significant effort, the real problem is when our emotions get in the way.
When we react to a problem with unpleasant feelings, the task turns into suffering. Then, this suffering makes us less productive and puts us in a place of discomfort. Not the best inner-environment to operate.
So to work through problems at ease, separate the story “you’re telling yourself” about the problem from what “you need to do” to solve it.
Then you can get into the mechanics of working through the problem with less effort.
Here’s a simple 3-step process to streamline the task.
Step 1: State the current situation
Document everything “that is” about the problem.
Write what you see, not what you think. Avoid making any judgments or pointing fingers at others. For example:
❌ “Max forgot to update the settings.”
✅ “The settings were not up to date.”
Mention names only when essential to solving the problem.
Step 2: Describe the problem
Document why the situation is a problem.
As you get to this next step, remind yourself to stay objective. Keep mentioning people to a minimum. Also, check in with yourself to assess how you’re feeling. If you’re too tense, take a break—drink some water, stretch a little, or take a walk.
Then come back, and work in a state of gratitude for your ability to improve your circumstances.
Step 3: Propose a solution
This part is the best.
Here’s where you get to make other people’s lives easier. It feels great to have someone in your team who never brings a problem without a potential solution. And that someone is you! 👏.
For reference, here are three samples of the implementation of this 3-step process.
No, we can’t solve all problems via email. But I still recommend writing things down to clear your thoughts. This practice will result in more productive collaborations and fewer meetings.
Remember, the ultimate goal is to work joyfully.