When any of us says, “I’ve got a problem”, we might not really have one.
And, if we do have a problem, it’s usually not for the reason most people think.
It starts with the definition of a problem.
A “problem” is the difference between what you’ve got and what you want – and you don’t know why you’re not getting it.
In other words, you don’t know what’s causing the “problem”.
A problem can be defined more formally as “the deviation from an expected or negotiated norm or issue for which the cause is unknown”.
Here’s why it’s important to understand this…
As soon as you know the cause of why you’re not getting what you want (or expect), you don’t have a problem anymore, by definition.
Here’s an example…
“I’ve got a problem because the report didn’t come through from the other department and now I’m going to miss the deadline.”
On further investigation, you find that the report was delayed because the director wanted another section added to it and she extended the deadline.
So, now you know the cause of why the report didn’t come through.
The “problem” is no longer a problem.
Instead of a problem, you now have something else to do.
You have a “decision” to make, specifically when to re-plan your current workload to accommodate the new deadline.
Once you decide when you’re going to do it, you have to decide how you’re going to do it, which means you have to bridge into planning.
This sequence happens because our brains constantly handle the “to do” lists in our lives by focusing on problems, decisions, and plans and each of these happens in a different time frame.
- Problems happen in the past.
- Decisions are made in the present.
- Plans unfold in the future.
Our emotional response to each of these is determined by how we hold an issue in our brains.
For most of us, if we that think we have a problem, the emotional response is a negative one.
Decisions can trigger a negative response but most of the time it is positive as we feel we have more control.
Plans usually trigger a positive response. We’re hopeful that they’ll work out.
So the next time you think that you have a problem, focus on the cause. Once you know the cause, you don’t have a problem. You may simply have a decision to make or a plan to implement.
We hope this enhanced clarity makes your day better!