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Mistakes Can Lead to Better Organization

Mistakes Can Lead to Better Organization

    Not long ago I got two great chances to fly by the seat of my pants. And, I HATE flying by the seat of my pants. I’d rather go to the dentist or chew aluminum foil! Whether I’m scheduled to speak to audiences for fee or for free, I prepare very carefully. I want people to leave my speeches ready to take action and change their lives. Being prepared grounds me to be able to handle the stress of speaking and whatever else comes my way.

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    Last Thursday I was ready to speak to a study group of the American Society of Interior Designers. I was more nervous than usual because two men from a local speaker’s bureau were going to be in attendance to see if I’m the kind of speaker their company wants to represent. I thought I had my act completely together. I was going to do a slide presentation which required that I use my laptop computer. As I got ready to set up I suddenly realized that I’d left my computer on the kitchen counter, at least 40 minutes away. My first thought was, “Well, I guess you’ve got to make every mistake possible as a speaker so you can learn from them!” I’ve come a long way from the days when I would have bludgeoned myself with, “How could you be so stupid!”

    As I usually do when faced with a sudden challenge like that, I went into problem-solving mode. I’d given that speech many times without using slides. I could certainly do that again. And, that’s what I did. I spent some time calming myself down, mentally reviewing the material, and I gave a good speech. Under the circumstances I was pleased to have been able to do that. Had I not been well organized in every other way, it would have been much harder to recover and give my audience a good experience.

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    The next day I made sure I took my laptop to do a speech for employees in the Mortgage Division of Village Bank. Again, I was very organized, and I was pleased that I’d remembered the laptop. I thought to myself, “You’re really ready this time!” Wrong!!!!

    With the help of some Village Bank employees I began to set up my computer to project my slides through their system. That’s when it hit me that though I had the computer, I had left my power cord at home. I had to laugh at myself. Another lesson! You need both the computer and the power cord to run a slide presentation.

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    Fortunately, the Village Bank people were so nice, helpful and understanding. One man had a flash drive I was able to load my speech onto and I was able to project it through their system. There’s more than one way to skin a cat! Or rather, there’s more than one way to project a slide program!

    Having made those two amazing mistakes back to back gave me the impetus to get more systematic about loading my AV bag. Most items in my AV bag never leave it between speeches. My computer and power cord do. My current solution to make sure I’m never without my computer and power cord again is to have two red cords with tags attached to them that read “Computer” and “Power Cord” tied to my bag handles when those items are not in the bag. They are my cues to check to make sure the computer and power cord are in the bag. When I put the computer in the bag, I take the tag off and put it in the bag. When I pull the computer out of the bag I tie the tag to the handle. I’ll do the same thing with the power cord tag. And, for good measure, I’m putting a flash drive with my speeches on it in the bag.

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    Making mistakes can lead to good organizing solutions! I’ll bet I’m not likely to forget my computer or power cord again, or at least not any time soon!

    What mistakes have you made that caused you to reorganize and improve a process?

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    Last Updated on July 16, 2019

    6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

    6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

    Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

    Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

    What to have for dinner tonight?

    Which route to take to work?

    How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

    How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

    Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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    No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

    Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

    Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

    Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

    Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

    How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

    Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

    You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

    When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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    1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

    Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

    I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

    2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

    5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

    By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

    For example:

    If the problem is “always late to work”…

    • Why am I late to work?
      I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
    • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
      I feel so tired in the morning.
    • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
      I slept late the night before, that’s why.
    • Why did I sleep late?
      I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
    • Why did I drink coffee?
      Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

    So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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    3. Simplify Things

    As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

    Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

    4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

    Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

    Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

    Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

    5. Think Laterally

    Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

    ‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

    Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

    Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

    6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

    Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

    Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

    The Bottom Line

    There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

    Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

    Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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    So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

    More About Problem Solving

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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