Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

This simple idea sums up the daily problems we have in our lives. We spend all our time putting out fires rather than preventing them.

We spend all our time thinking about how to solve the problem rather than thinking about the problem itself.

The Problem

You have to know the problem before you can work on the solution. Problems are rarely one single thing.

You car is suddenly stalled on the side of the road — what’s the problem? It could be any one of a thousands things. You might be out of gas, dead battery, or some hidden mechanical malfunction.

If I were a mechanic in a situation like this I would know the most common reasons for my car to stall based on my past experience.

I would start by eliminating what it’s not then start concentrating on what it is.

Other than being out of gas or a dead battery the automobile novice would probably have little chance of ever solving this problem.

A call for a tow truck would be the best start.

The Problem Solving Process

Looking at a problem from the solution side just slows the process down. I like Einstein’s method and didn’t even realize that’s what I was doing solving problems.

I need to know all the components of the problem before even attempting to find a solution.

Solving part of the problem may just make the entire project worse.

We all know the old axiom, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

What If’s

Once we see the complete problem than we can create some scenarios. What if we did this? What if we did that?

What if we did this but not that?

We can’t always foresee unintended consequences of our problem solving decisions. Things could still go wrong or even turn out worse.

But the more understanding we have of the problem itself the easier the solution usually becomes.

Some Final Thoughts

Problems appear at all levels of our lives. Some are deadly serious others not so much.

I’ve found that putting off problem solving has worse ramifications than diving in and trying to solve it. Problems rarely work themselves out.

The good news is, the more you do problem solving the better you become at it because you gain needed experience that you can apply to future problems like our mechanic friend above.

So whatever the problem — don’t procrastinate. It’s not going away so you might as well deal with it now rather than later.

Problem solved. Comments below

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