Fundamental #15: Focus on Solutions
The 30 Fundamentals that make up the “ConnectSMART Way” describe how we want to run our business – the way we treat our clients, the way we work with each other, and even the way we relate to our vendors and suppliers. They’re who we are and they’re the foundation of our success. They drive everything we do, every day. Each week we focus on a different fundamental and discuss in depth.[/content_box]
Fundamental #15: Focus on Solutions
It’s easy to point out problems. It’s better to identify solutions; but it makes a true difference when you step up and become part of the solution. Apply your creativity, spirit, and enthusiasm to developing solutions, rather than dwelling on problems.
One of my passions is survival. This weekend we went camping with the family and cousins. Car camping with 5 kids, 2 women and a baby is a far cry from survival camping but it does give the opportunity to practice, experiment and plan. One thing that I have found (and survival experts agree) is that the biggest single factor in survival is mental. I always remember a story from when I was a kid of a guy lost hiking who died of dehydration beside a dirty lake. He wasn’t willing to drink dirty water or come up with a way to make it safe to drink in order to live. It was further ironic that he was only ten miles from civilization when he simply gave up. There are hundreds of similar stories of those who just didn’t “have what it takes”. Have you ever stopped to think through an extreme situation? Not necessarily TEOTWAWKI (If you don’t know what that is you definitely are not a prepper J ) but even common emergencies that we can be faced with at any point? How many people living in South Florida are not even ready to survive without power for three days? I remember during Hurricane Wilma people almost rioting because they didn’t have water and ice for three days! Imagine something that was actually severe and wide spread? While I encourage everyone to think about being prepared for any eventuality that isn’t what this note is about. There are two things that I enjoy the most about survival – proving to myself that I can, and all of the different ways to solve a problem. We are so used to having everything imaginable for every need – and the access to home depot, Walmart, or Target in case we forgot something that we have lost the ability to think creatively about everyday problems. We have specialized accessories or tools for every single imaginable case – this allows retailers to sell you a lot of things that you will never use (like my wife’s purple egg white separator – never been used!). If you are going backpacking where you have to carry everything with you obviously can’t carry that much weight so this gives rise to the multi-tool market. Three hundred tools on a swiss army knife that requires the instruction manual to even know what they all are and barely fits in your hand! Both of these extremes cater to people who just like to buy stuff and people who have lost the ability to survive creatively. I am not talking about Bear Grylls with only his knife, canteen, the clothes on his body and a fifteen man camera crew and support staff, nor the early pioneers who put everything they needed for months into a Conestoga wagon (although check out this for their total supplies http://www.oregontrailcenter.org/HistoricalTrails/Supplies.htm ) but maybe something in between.
Most of the problems faced in a survival situation can be solved with a combination of problem solving skills, basic training, preparation, and a clear head. How many ways could you start a fire if needed? Fire drill, bow, friction, battery, steel wool, binoculars, first aid kit, plastic bag, flint and steel, or maybe the handy extra lighter you just happen to have on you? Knowledge and tenacity are required with most options unless you happened to be prepared in advance. The same skills and mindset apply to our daily life. When we are presented with a problem how do we approach it? Is it “someone else’s job”, or insurmountable problem that requires outside assistance? If we are out of ‘lighter fluid’ is there another way to get a fire going or are we going to curl up in a fetal position and give up?
When I was learning to drive my dad taught me to focus on the middle of my lane not the middle lines. Even though your eyes are drawn to the middle line, if you focus on that line you will drift into it. What we focus on is where we end up. If we are focusing on the problems we will be drawn into those problems. When you are reconnoitering you focus on a distant point which you can keep your eyes on. Without those points of reference you find yourself walking in circles.
What are you going to focus on this week? Are you going to focus on the things that don’t work the way they should? The people you feel have let you down or not pulled their weight? Are you going to focus on everything that is wrong? Or are you going to focus on the solution? How to get out of the hole you are in, how to get to that distant mountain, how to fix that computer, or make that customer happy? Let’s start a fire this week – How you start it is up to you!