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HOW TO SOLVE PROBLEMS

Avatar_DavidBentley The world is full of problems, and sometimes the number of problems seems to be growing exponentially. It can quickly become overwhelming. So I decided to search the internet for the term "problem solving techniques." The results were nearly as overwhelming as the problems I had hoped to solve. They ran the gamut from mathematical algorithms to wo--woo strategies that were even more difficult to understand than the mathematical algorithms. What I found between these two extremes, however, was quite interesting.

On web site after web site, from colleges and universities to government agencies and corporate entities, there was a pattern. Most of the problem solving techniques and strategies involved some pretty standard steps. The first step was to recognize that a problem exists. It may seem odd to think that someone might not recognize a problem, but, as most of us know, "denial" is not a river in Egypt.

Once the problem is recognized, most techniques go on to suggest clearly defining the problem, brainstorming several possible solutions, choosing one that appears to be best, trying it out, and then analyzing the results. If the chosen solution does not solve the problem, then that approach can be adjusted and fine tuned, or another solution can be chosen.

What I found most interesting was that nowhere in the steps listed for most problem solving techniques did I find any mention of hand wringing. Neither did I find steps such as blaming others, casting aspersions, changing the subject, or rubbing a genie's magic lamp. Well, there was one reference to a magic lamp, but it clearly fell into that woo-woo category mentioned earlier.

If I can remember that rarely is any situation totally black or white with a single solution, I am more likely to solve a problem. If I can get past my fear, shame, and defensiveness, I become free to move in some given direction. If the direction in which I choose to move is not making things better, I can always change directions. When I am honest, open-minded, and willing to make mistakes, life becomes a whole lot easier.

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