Problems are nothing new to humanity. From the dawn of time, people have been faced with situations that have challenged their intelligence, innovation and resilience as they have sought to overcome them. It is these very problems that have contributed to the human race being where it is today.
In fact, we could as far as to say that we have ongoing problems to thank for us being as advanced as we are. Which makes one wonder whether problems are such a bad thing after all …
So, just as we thought life was getting comfortable and our problems were under control, well, almost … in a manner of speaking … along came the problem of a pandemic.
That set loose a whole bunch of new problems that have challenged people to set about solving – like coming up with effective and reliable treatments and vaccines, and finding new ways to work without contributing to increased infections.
But I digress …
What kind of problems can you solve? Are you able to solve only minor problems or big, fat, hairy problems that defy the intelligence of lesser mortals?
The fact is, your and my value in the world is determined by the size of the problems we can solve. Translate that into the here and now and that means that, in a nutshell, your value to your employer is determined by the size and complexity of the problems you can solve.
Coming up with solutions to problems requires courage – courage to think and see things differently from the crowd, as problems, by their nature, have to be solved by ideas we haven’t yet had. Coming up with new ideas isn’t easy, not only from a creative point of view but from the point of view that people seldom wish to challenge the status quo. People may complain about how things are, but that doesn’t mean that they want to do anything to change things for the better.
So, take a look at your role at work. Are you a “problem causer” or a “problem solver”? And you may not actually even be a “problem causer” – you may just be part of the problem. If you want to increase your value in your company, your value in this life, start thinking in terms of how to solve some of the problems your company is currently facing. That doesn’t mean you should be sticking your nose in other departments’/teams’/divisions’ business. It means facing the problems your team is encountering and finding solutions for those problems.
Once you start doing that, you may find that word gets around and others approach you to help them solve some of their problems. And that’s when your value starts to increase exponentially.
How you set about solving problems is another matter altogether. Bear in mind that you don’t have to actually have all the answers. You just have to have the imagination to know where to look and whom to look to for the answers. Draw on the expertise of those around you in order to come up with innovative ways of dealing with problems.
Use your imagination to connect the dots and then also, more importantly see what’s in the spaces between the dots.
The world is desperate for problem solvers. Your company is desperate for problem solvers. Your family is desperate for a problem solver. Are you going to be that person or do you shrug your shoulders and mentally pass the buck, hoping someone else will solve the problem?
I want to encourage you to start thinking in terms of what problems you can solve or help solve. As you do so, you will rise in stature and influence, and you will contribute to changing the world for the better, which is actually why you were born!
Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net and @HRFuturemag. He is a recognised authority on leadership skills for the future and teaches experienced business leaders as well as Millennial managers how to lead with integrity, purpose and agility. In 2018, he was named by US-based web site Disruptordaily.com as one of the “Top 25 Future of Work Influencers to Follow on Twitter“. In 2020, he was named one of the “Top 200 Global Power Thought Leaders to watch in 2021” by peopleHum in India.