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The Sweetest Comeback Ever: What We Can Learn From A CupCake

The Sweetest Comeback Ever: What We Can Learn From A CupCake

Americans went into mourning last November when Hostess closed its doors and Twinkies, Ding Dongs and CupCakes disappeared from shelves nationwide. Those of us who grew up on the tasty treats were elated this year when C. Dean Metropoulous & Co., of Pabst Blue Ribbon comeback fame, and Apollo Global Management brought the iconic snacks back to life. Today’s Twinkies are a bit smaller in size, but production and sales have never been sweeter. Talk about tenacity!

Despite the stir this comeback has created (for good and bad), we have to ask ourselves if there is anything we can learn from this wise, old sweet treat about perseverance? So, pull up a chair, get a cup of coffee and a Twinkie, and let’s explore what tenacity and Twinkies have in common.

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The first thing is loss. Hostess saw the collapse of a company, thus the death of the Twinkie. Most of us have experienced times in our lives when we’ve felt that everything around us was collapsing. We feel totally out of control. We feel like we’ve lost our way. But are there some things we can do when the unexpected twists and turns in life throw us off balance? Absolutely! It’s what separates success from failure: it’s called perseverance. Here’s what we need to think about:

Identify your goal

Resurrection of the Twinkie was the goal. So the companies who brought Twinkies back had to come up with a new marketing strategy to make this work. They already had tons of publicity and a strong outcry from people all over the country who didn’t want to see Hostess go under, so the timing was perfect. Identifying your main goal is the first step in making something happen, then break that down into bite-sized pieces of sub-goals to clarify your vision. The main goal is broad. Sub-categories under that are more specific and provide direction.

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Brainstorm possibilities

Brainstorming possibilities requires that we identify the problem and develop solutions. What needed to happen to make the Twinkie’s comeback the sweetest ever? Perseverance requires we use those possibilities to craft a plan and keep working it until you see results.

Be willing to recognize blind spots

Sometimes we get stuck in ruts. This happens when we aren’t flexible and open to new ideas. To recognize our blind spots we have to be teachable. We also need an accountability partner to tell us what we may not want to hear about our blind spots or weaknesses.

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Use failure as a springboard

Never give up. If you have a dream, keep fighting, keep pressing on, and keep persevering. Success takes time. There are so many famous people who failed miserably before they ever reached the top. The key is to keep trying!

Watch self-talk

People who persevere think and say positive things. It doesn’t mean they don’t feel negative emotions — they have just conditioned themselves to not dwell on the problems, and to focus on solutions. A steady diet of negative self-talk will kill your ability to persevere. Don’t let it happen!

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Prepare

Take action. Do the necessary work on the front end of things so you’ll be prepared to set yourself up for success. That could mean learning all you can about a product, a service, a skill set, the market, demand, and anything else you have to do to take the necessary first steps to action.

Take the necessary first steps

Perseverance means you may need to take necessary first steps more than once. The old adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” may mean that you have to re-think, re-define and re-establish first steps. The key is not to give up. Keep learning — keep pushing forward. Most people give up right before a big breakthrough is about to happen.

Americans love a good comeback story, so whether you like Twinkies and Ding Dongs doesn’t really matter, what matters is you learn something from their story. We like to see the underdog win; it may even motivate us to buy a box. The next time you’re tempted to give up, or feel depressed that things aren’t working out the way you planned, go to the store and buy a box of Twinkies. Even if you don’t eat them, let them motivate you!

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Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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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.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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

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