Be a Problem Solver, not a Problem Sucker

As a dog lover and owner of one much-loved pampered pooch, I take my parenting role very seriously. Millie-dog is well fed, well protected, and well trained; responding appropriately to commands like:  ‘stop’ or ‘wait’ or ‘come’ or ‘treats’ or ‘go -> bring it here’ [aka fetch fun-time]. 

She also gets exercised daily with beach walks and as a responsible parent, I know that the one thing I must have tied to her lead is several doggy-doo disposable bags.  Training her to do her poop on command or when it’s convenient, is frankly – never going to happen. So … I’ve become quite adept at the process of scooping up half a bag of sand around the chipolata size doo; ensuring no part of it touches any part of my hand. Yes, she’s a small Shi Tzu, so it’s no big deal.

One morning last week, as we were coming back from our beach walk into our gated community, a neighbour greeted us with the news that some unknown animal had left a rather large deposit on the lawn just inside the entrance driveway.

She was rather perplexed and annoyed by this. “Must have been a big dog or perhaps a large possum?”, she said. “Must have been a visitor because there are no big dogs living in the complex”, she surmised. “I noticed it yesterday evening, and it’s still there this morning … come – take a look and see what you think”, she suggested.

So, being very obliging people, we followed her over a few metres to where this offending doo was. As she started to converse with my partner over just WHO in our gated community might be to blame for this, I untied one of my disposable doggy-doo bags, scooped the doo up, and walked 10 metres to the community skip bin at the gate, and dropped it in. Problem solved. No big deal.

Five minutes later, I started to laugh as I sat down in our courtyard to remove my joggers; remembering a funny quip that I regularly use in my leadership workshops.

My therapist set half a glass of water in front of me. He asked me if I was an optimist [view the glass as half full], or a pessimist [view the glass as half empty].  

So, I drank the water and told him I was a problem solver.

Yes, I had simply solved the problem; fixed it. Making it a non-issue in less than a minute. Walking my talk, without second thought.

I really didn’t care what animal it had come from, what size dog would do that, whose dog it might have been, from which townhouse in the complex. Who cares? Really? Just pick it up; even without a scoop of protective sand, it was no big deal.

It’s interesting how many people get stuck with what I call ‘below the line thinking’ when a problem occurs or shit happens [pun intended]. Turning a small issue into a catastrophy, making judgements, looking to blame or make excuses; when there’s a clear solution and a simple action just ‘above the line’. Right there, waiting for them to take responsibility and respond, instead of reacting.

OK, so my example is obviously a very small p – problem. Most of us have learned not to sweat the small stuff, right? I get that sometimes life is harder than that; I’ve had my fair share of big issues too. But, sometimes we can make it harder than it needs to be. Often even really huge crappy things are not that big of a deal when you start to focus on possible and practical solutions, new opportunities, and plan your response in doable size chunks.

Ask yourself … if I could fix 10% of the problem, what would that be? What action could I start doing today? 

Instead of over-analysing the problem, getting stuck or perhaps feeling hopeless; flip above the line and explore possible solutions. You may be surprised at how easy it is to take action and solve it.

Embed these life-changing habits …

  • Decide to rise above the little things. Don’t let the crappy little stuff drain your happiness bucket.
  • Decide to flip from emotive reactions, to results-focused responding.
  • Decide to become a problem solver, not a problem sucker.

If you need help with changing your ‘below the line’ thinking into ‘above the line’ actions, ask me about the popular self-leadership coaching packages tailored to individual needs. I share lots of helpful tips and practical tools to support your learning journey. 

Change your thinking ... change your stress levels ... change your life.

Written by Jilinda Lee … Change Champion, Leadership Coach, OD Strategist, Writer, Speaker … Founder and Director of Vital Leaders, and passionate inspirer of dynamic, game-changing leaders.

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