Finding a solution requires the right mindset — a conscious decision that you will do your best to contribute to a positive outcome (solution) rather than contribute to a negative outcome (problem).
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if our focus was on finding a solution rather than focusing on a problem.
How much more smoothly would our days go? Would our ideas of right and wrong shift? Would we stop judging something as good or bad? Would finding a ‘common ground’ become our focus?
Consider some of your concerns or problems at the moment. Do they always have to have a ‘me versus you’ mentality attached to them? If we didn’t take things personally, would we be able to step out of that mindset?
The answer to any of the above questions lies in what is the desired outcome. Is it more important to live your life with less chaos and drama by focusing on a solution? Is finding a solution a better outcome than tolerating a problem?
It reminds me of a pendulum, the constant sway from one side to another. One side is swinging to the left and the other side is swinging to the right. Back and forth, back and forth, with no one desiring to give any ground.
Extremes are located on either side of the pendulum and perhaps it is the middle ground, the still point, which favours us — or at least provides a ‘best-case scenario’ for all involved.
Cooperation and willingness from both parties is required to achieve this still point. Not getting caught up in whose opinion is right or wrong. Not getting caught up in taking things or comments personally. And, most importantly, not having to always be right.
Have you ever noticed that when you start complaining about how bad things are or how something doesn’t fit your belief system that you actually feel your heart rate increase, your emotions rise? You may feel incredibly indignant, or you may even feel your breath becoming shallow due to stress. Do you like this feeling? Does it make you feel empowered or safe? Initially I would say yes, because you are ‘fighting for your beliefs’ and this is comfortable ground. But what happens when the dialogue stops, the conversation goes into a lull or you change subject.
Where does all this pent-up energy and frustration go? Do you have a solution for all your complaining or blaming?
More often than not, if you were paying attention to your responses you would understand that you actually end up feeling flat and deflated.
Why is this, if you were so fired up only minutes earlier? Perhaps it is because you are actually looking for a way to fix something but all you ended up doing was complaining, blaming, making excuses and, in the end, voicing your concerns without having a viable solution in mind.
A solution-focused mindset is so much more powerful and creative than a problem-focused mindset. Attitude is everything.
If you are experiencing an area of your life that you wish to change, focus on the solution.
A simple guide to consider when looking to find a solution:
1. Blaming others never solves anything. Ask yourself: “What can I do here and now to help improve this situation?”
2. Making excuses is a form of procrastination. If you are unable to start working on a solution, the inevitable outcome will be that the problem will persist and that the desired outcome, a solution, will be non-existent. Better to start now than not start at all and resent others or yourself for doing nothing.
3. Finding a solution empowers you. No one likes to think of themselves as not capable. Working on a strategy or a way to come up with a solution not only creates a sense of empowerment (I AM capable of…) but achievement as well. Finding a solution as a group or community empowers everyone.
4. Staying detached from the situation is beneficial if you wish to truly create positive change. This way, it does not become about your beliefs, or their beliefs, or his beliefs or her beliefs. Stay out of the emotional merry-go-round.
5. Be more proactive and less reactive as this impacts your emotional state of being.
6. The choice is yours. Be part of the problem or be part of the solution.
7. Compromise is not a negative. This just may be the single most important factor in finding a solution. Compromise is not about someone getting ‘their way’. Compromise shows that you are willing to meet someone half-way in order to benefit everyone. Perhaps this is a key ingredient in true leadership.
8. Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry. If you made a mistake, own it. Taking responsibility for your actions or words may just be the quickest route to finding a solution.
9. Remember everyone is doing the best they can in any given moment. When I meet someone who is challenging I remind myself of this simple statement. I have no idea what is going on inside their head or their heart and what challenges they may be facing.
10. Practice breath awareness. Focusing on taking a series of deep inhalations and exhalations (5-10 cycles) to calm your mind and your body. Entering into any discussion feeling stressed or on ‘edge’ is never a good idea. Hit a RESET button and make sure that you are clear and focused. You will be less reactive and will communicate much more effectively.