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The Biggest Challenge to Solving Problems

Updated: Feb 1

Often when problem-solving it’s the mindset that determines the outcome, despite differences in problems, it’s the individual’s approach that’s similar. Some people have personal blocks that prevent them from changing their approach and ultimately finding a solution. They offer numerous reasons and excuses, some of which may be valid, yet for others in a similar situation, they can find an answer more easily.



The reason for the personal blocks varies, sometimes it comes from the person’s past, upbringing; education; social circle, or more often, because of the team’s or organisational culture. When a person faces a similar problem repeatedly, for example with a colleague, it becomes increasingly difficult to try different approaches or to look for the real reason why it occurs.


A common block is failing to understand the problem when trying to find a solution. The person can be so immersed in the problem that they lose sight of what it is important. They know every aspect, going over it again and again in their mind for a long time. Some rationally create a list of pros and cons when faced with making a decision, yet it brings them no closer. If you find that this is happening, ask yourself a couple of questions:


What exactly is the problem OR what exactly do I want to achieve?


The answer should not be longer than a couple of sentences, otherwise, you will get lost again in the problem.


A person can get decision-making fatigue when constantly solving problems or making decisions it quickly becomes draining, to reduce this ask yourself:


What would happen if no decision was made or a solution found?


We need to know which problems need to be solved and which to leave. We can waste a lot of time thinking about ‘what if’ scenarios and doing our best to prevent them, worrying needlessly and in the end, we find that it wasn’t helpful. Some problems solve themselves with time.


Another common block is the person sees what they expect to see and not what is there. This is about making assumptions in a situation or outcome as well as misreading email messages, mis-hearing information or not hearing information at all. So next time you are trying to work something out in your mind, talking with someone else helps, they can give a different point of view. Also writing it down, then reading it after can give you another perspective.




With this type of mental block, the individual misses out on potential opportunities, because either they don’t see them, or they don’t even try. Such as not trying for a promotion; a career change or putting themselves forward for something they would be interested in; or not asking that question in the meeting, only to hear someone else asking the same question and get praised after.


Once the person becomes aware and recognises their mental blocks, by changing their approach to a problem, then they’re better equipped with dealing with it.


The biggest challenge isn’t solving the problem, it’s the person’s approach to the problem.


What are your mental blocks, is there a pattern in your approach to problems? Once we become aware of our patterns and behaviours we can then change them.

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