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Problem Spotting vs. Problem Solving

Problem solving is a highly sought after skill in business and life. If you are in the field of education, it is vital to your success. Having been a teacher for 8 years including a pandemic year, I know the importance of problem solving to our daily tasks.

It is not an easy skill to obtain though. In fact, problem spotting is a much easier default. In the midst of problems, it is natural to dwell on the size and complications of the problem.

Let’s look at the differences between problem spotting and problem solving. Understanding the two will help you make the mindset shift!

What’s the Difference

Problem spotters get stuck on their breakdown of the problem, rather than a focus on the solution. We call that “Analysis Paralysis.” When you are entirely focused on analyzing a problem, it is difficult to create any kind of action. With no action, the problem doesn’t change, except to get bigger.

Problem solvers, on the other hand, are focused. They analyze the problem only to seek the best few solutions, to then apply it. Through action, they can analyze the results and continue fine tuning. With this method, problems vanish quickly.

Become a Problem Solver

If you describe yourself as a “worry wart” or you feel that you invest too much energy in the problem, here is your fix. Apply these strategies starting today and move toward the problem solving side of things.

  1. Write down your problemsProblems fester in our heads and take up valuable mind space. Put them on paper so they don’t need to stay at the front of your brain, eating away at your energy.
  2. Write down 3 solutions – Next to your problem, write 3 solutions. Why 3? Because writing 1 will mean you are just getting it done, and will not necessarily stop you from worrying about the problem. Writing 3 solutions will highly motivate you to take action.
  3. Think long term – What does this problem mean in 5 years? Spilling coffee on your shirt might suck today, but will it be a blip on your radar long term? Problems are BIG in the moment. Get distance to understand the perspective of the problem.
  4. How do others deal with this problem? – For practically all issues, somebody else has been in your shoes. What was their solution? How did they apply problem solving methods to this? By finding comparable situations, you can quickly arrive at action.
  5. The 5 minute rule – We have a mindset rule in sports. If you lose, you are allowed to feel bad for 5 minutes. However, when the 5 minutes passes, you need to act. It is a great rule for life, too. When a problem shows up, feel free to take 5 minutes to process the emotions of it. Then, create a solution and GO!

For more strategies, check out our book just for teachers! The mental strengthening practices will maximize the impact you can have this year and beyond! 💪🧠

Read next: 5 Ways to Motivate Yourself

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