One of the most influential positive thinkers of our time, Norman Vincent Peale, pointed out that: “how you think about a problem is more important than the problem itself.”
The way you and I perceive a problem directly impacts how we are going to solve that problem; sadly, because of our tendency to judge and make biases based on past experiences, we are horrible at accurately understanding problems. There is, however, hope for us!
While our naturally problem-solving abilities are decent, you and I can use our creativity and a few creative problem solving techniques to solve any problem.
How? When solving a problem creatively, the first thing to remember is what Peale said: the actual problem is not nearly as important as how you think about it. Try and rephrase your problem several times, giving yourself enough options to really feel comfortable in choosing an answer.
As an example: say you need more money, and fast. Instead of viewing the problem as “How can I get more money quickly?”, create a list of alternate questions that still have the same basic meaning, such as:
- “How could I acquire more money immediately?”
- “What might I do to earn extra money right now?”
- “What might others do to help me obtain additional money?”
- “In what ways might I convince others to obtain additional money for me?”
- “Who would help me earn some extra money soon?”
Rephrasing a problem multiple times means your brain can get rid of its pre-determined (possibly ineffective) solutions. Instead of trying to solve the problem of how to get more money, going through this exercise presents a new problem of who will help to earn extra money.
Do this first!
Before you even begin to try and come up with solutions to a problem, first try rephrasing the problem in at least five different ways. If you want to really get inspired: try rephrasing the problem again and again until you run out of ideas.
You may find one alternative problem (or even a more deeply rooted one) that is not only more of an accurate description of your previous problem, but also easier to solve.
If you want to learn what the next step is in creatively solving problems, come back next week when I’ll post on why it’s important to write your problems down, and multiple ways to solve a problem once you have an accurate perception of that problem.