Solution-Oriented Thinking Can Be the Key to Unlock the Answers to Your Problems
By Jerry Graham
"You can't depend on external circumstances for lasting happiness. It has to come from inside you." Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.
When was the last time you chose to rise above your circumstances?
The next time you are faced with a problem, don't fall into the trap of thinking about the problem. Instead, project yourself forward and ask, "What is the solution?" Focus your thinking on the solution instead of focusing on the problem. Hard to do? Like most things, it gets easier and easier with practice. Some have labeled this technique "solution-oriented thinking."
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that concentrating on the solution is a much more positive activity than concentrating on the problem. Turning one's attention to potential answers is more fun and gratifying than getting sucked into the downward spiral of pity that nearly always goes with concentrating on the problem. Even if a solution isn't readily apparent, just the act of searching for one is an activity that will always get your mind away from the problem itself.
I'm reminded of a outstanding book that should be in your library titled QBQ! The Question Behind the Question. In that book, author John Miller articulates a QBQ that has three characteristics:
- A QBQ starts with a "What" or "How" and never a "Why," "When," or "Who."
- A QBQ always contains an "I" and never a "they," "them," "we," or "you."
- A QBQ always centres on action.
As an alternative, it is far more effective to employ a bit of solution-oriented thinking. An illustration might be, "How can I get to my destination on time?" "What can I do to get across town in time for my engagement?" Can you see the difference? Both questions are centered on solutions and cause the creative juices (a positive thing) to begin to flow. No finding fault; no playing victim; just plain being accountable to come up with a solution to the immediate difficulty. Much more fun and it keeps you from the pit dive as well.
Obviously, you're still going to have to deal with your car that won't start, but I will wager that when you don't have the pressure of missing an engagement dangling over you, that your head will be a lot more clear-thinking to make decisions on what to do with or about an undependable automobile.
One additional little idea along these same lines of reasoning comes from a good friend, Tony Stoltzfus, who taught my wife and I how to coach. Tony has a great technique that he utilizes with his clients when they can not think of any solutions to a problem they have. He pushes them to come up with at least five ideas...no matter how off-the-wall or preposterous they may be. Why five? Because when you can't seem to come up with even one, five will drive you to think "out of the box" and genuinely get creative. That's the theory behind brainstorming sessions. And generally, it is one of those eccentric ideas, which when given a little tweak here and there turn out to be the best, most constructive ideas. Again, solution-oriented thinking.
As always, whether you permit your thinking to brood over your problem or drive yourself to dream up solutions is nothing but a choice over which you have total control. Yep...it's your choice!
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