What to do with an unsolvable problem.

Too many times people face problems that they deem unsolvable. They stop trying to solve the problem by saying, “It is what it is.”

But is it?

An unsolvable problem is really just a problem where the solution has not yet been identified.

Why do some people solve enormous problems while others give up? According to Bill Hybels, “Visionary people face the same problems everyone else faces; but rather than get paralyzed by their problems, visionaries immediately commit themselves to finding a solution.”

Here are the steps that will help you solve those unsolvable problems:

Re-Group. Just because you can’t see the answer to a problem doesn’t mean the answer isn’t already there. The odds are that someone, somewhere, has faced the same problem and at least stumbled upon the answer. Trust that you will find it, somewhere else, if you look.

“If you’re a leader and you’re the smartest guy in the world, or in the room, you’ve got real problems.” – Jack Welch

Re-Grip. Prepare yourself to hang on long enough to find that solution. Look around you. Where are other successes happening? Who is having those successes? How are they having those successes? Select from the many choices you will find and take hold of what will work for your problem.

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”- Albert Einstein

Re-Commit. Now that you have decided to solve the unsolvable problem, and you chose the right solution, commit to give it all you’ve got.

“It’s the determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” – Mario Andretti

Instead of questioning intentions, review outcomes.

When plans are not working out, assume others have good intentions and work on helping them achieve the right outcomes through questions, suggestions, and solutions. In the end, you are going to get what you focus on. Invest your time achieving the results in this way and you’ll find success while also teaching someone something new.

Actions, not intentions, lead to results. Why spend your time thinking about other people’s intentions when it’s actions and outcomes that bring success? Paint the picture of the future and build a plan to get there.

“Better to inspire into action then to inquire as to intentions.”– Denis G. McLaughlin

Sharing knowledge makes for good discussion. Facts are universal and non-judgmental. Intentions are personal and internal. Gain alignment with the facts and you’ll gain alignment with the plan.

“Never question another’s motive. Their wisdom, yes, but not their motives.”– Dwight D. Eisenhower

Don’t focus on faults. It’s too easy to assign the cause of mistakes to a lack of concern when in reality it could be just a lack of understanding. Correct the understanding and not the person.

“The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything they do becomes tainted.”– Mahatma Ghandi

 

Who’s the Leader?

There’s a difference between being in a group and being a leader in that group. Even if you are making a great contribution, and the group could not succeed without you, that doesn’t make you the leader. How do you become the leader? How do you achieve the power of leadership?

It’s not the one who is named the leader that sets the direction for the group. It’s who the group actually follows that is the leader. How is that different? Why would people follow anyone who doesn’t have the leader title?

In his best-selling book, The Leader Who Had No Title, Robin Sharma tells a wonderful allegory about true leadership power – and as the name suggests, it doesn’t come from a title. As Alice Walker put it, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Here are the four leadership powers that we all possess regardless where you work, or your title:

1 – Every one of us alive in this moment has the power to go to work each day and express the absolute best within us. And you need no title to do that.

2 – Every one of us alive today has the power to inspire, influence, and elevate each person we meet by the gift of a good example. And you need no title to do that.

3 – Every one of us alive with life can passionately drive positive change in the face of negative conditions. And you need no title to do that.

4 – Every one of us alive to the truth about leadership can treat all stakeholders with respect, appreciation, and kindness – and in doing so raise the organization’s culture to best of bread. And you need no title to do that.

And here is the best summary of the power of leadership I have every read:

“Leave every single person who intersects your path better, happier, and more engaged than you found them.”– Robin Sharma

 

Be different – make a difference.

The future will be different than today, that we know for sure. Maybe you can get there first by not holding on to the way things have always been done. There may be a better way. You may have unique insights. You have individual talents – use them. Who knows – you might just change the world.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”– Steve Jobs

It’s ok to stand out. If you really want to have an impact and make a difference, you going to have to reconcile yourself to being different. Otherwise you just doing what everyone else does and that rarely changes anything.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”– Dr. Seuss

It’s ok to try new methods. You can’t be satisfied with just being different – new methods have to be better at getting you to the future There’s no guarantee that the new ideas will always work. But you can be sure that the same ideas won’t bring you to the new answers needed for the different future.

“You shouldn’t do things differently just because they’re different. They need to be better.” – Elon Musk

It’s ok to change along the way. It’s actually better than ok, its preferable to change. I had a mentor tell me that my goal for any given year was to go so far, I would need a telescope to see where I started. Expect to learn, look for opportunities, and grow from them.

“If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.”– Maya Angelou

 

Reputation – good ones travel fast

Your reputation is a riddle; It is guaranteed to always arrive before you do, and stay after you leave. Knowing this fact can help set you apart from the crowd. Your reputation will serve as your introduction, it will set expectations for those you meet, it will remind others of your demonstrated abilities. In many ways it’s your spokesperson, and you want your spokesperson to have wonderful things to say about you. Therefore, you must carefully build the foundation of your reputation through your actions.

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”– Henry Ford

Delivering what matters. Not everything has to be done; just the important stuff. Identify which actions make the most difference to the company, project, team and you – then put your energy into accomplishing those.

“You earn a reputation by trying to do hard things well.”– Jeff Bezos

Every day. Start each day with a picture of success in your mind – for that day. Break down your goals into what you can do today and do that every day. Make success a habit.

“Repetition makes reputation.”– Elizabeth Arden

Will pave the way. This is what opens doors, gets invitations, and garners resources. Delivering what matters every day is the foundation for your reputation.

“There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.” – Brian Koslow

Help one, help many

The theme on my blog page is: Change The World Through Leadership Now. I chose that to represent the impact I want to have through my passion for Leadership. Every article, Instagram picture, Tweet, LinkedIn post, or FaceBook post is designed to reach as many connections as possible. My desire is to Change The World, one person at a time, through the sharing of leadership insights.

In his bestselling book, The Go Giver, Bob Burg stated, “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest first.” The impact of your helping one person is far reaching. The residual effects of helping one person can truly change the world.

Help them help themselves. As a leader, your help should not be in the form of micromanaging. Sure, you will set the vision and work to align the goals, but your employees need to experiment, build experience and learn to excel using their strengths to accomplish the goals and achieve the vision. Doing it for them is short lived and offers no value beyond the immediate.

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves…and succeed beyond what they thought possible.”– Simon Sinek

Help them help you. There are two personal benefits to helping others. First, it’s rewarding to be part of someone’s success – it feels good to help. There’s a Chinese Proverb that says, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” Second, the people you help will want to help you in return; they want that happiness for themselves.

Help them help others. Changing the world is a big endeavor. And if we are being realistic it’s hard to think of a way to do that. Steve Jobs got really close with Apple and his personal goal of, “Making a dent in the universe.” One way we can all think changing the world is by helping one person at a time who will also help one more person at a time – eventually it will reach the world.

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”– Ronald Reagan

Big goals – What do you do first?

Michael Johnson is a retired U.S. track athlete. He is the winner of four Olympic gold medals and eight World Championship gold medals in the 200 and 400 Meter races. Johnson had a strategy for running the 400 Meter that he called the 4 P’s. The 4 P’s are Push, Pace, Position, and Pray. With a big goal in mind – win the 400 Meter race – Johnson’s strategy broke the race into four 100 meter races each with its own definition of success, that when achieved brought Johnson one step closer to his goal:

Push – Run the first 100 meters near top speed to set tone for the race.

Pace – Keep a good speed – under your maximum – for the next 100 meters.

Position – Press the next 100 meters so you come around the first at the last turn.

Pray – Give all you’ve got left for the last 100 meters, arms pumping and run strong for the win.

This strategy worked for Michael Johnson in track, and it can work for you in anything you want to accomplish. Here’s how I think about this strategy with the big goals I have for my life:

First, break the big goals down into little goals where success can be measured in the short-term.

Next get going – fast – on the first step and rack up quick wins for motivation.

Then, with success on the first little goal, tackle the next little goal, then the next…in the same fashion until the big goal is achieved.

I know this sounds too simple. But you’d be amazed at how often I see people give up on their big goals because the payoff is just too far away to keep up the motivation.

Here’s a real-life example on how this worked for me:

Several years ago, I had a big goal to publish a book on leadership to guide emerging leaders. Here are the small goals I used to achieve that big goal with my book The Leadership GPS.

  • -Read books on leadership for information and style
  • -Research historical leaders to document repeatable patterns
  • -Attend conferences with selected authors to gain connections
  • -Combine research with chosen book style and write manuscript
  • -Talk with author connections for advice on publishing
  • -Publish The Leadership GPS and see it become an Amazon Best Seller

Before I wrote the manuscript to my book, I talked with John Maxwell and he gave me advice on what to do first if you want to be an author:   The very definition of being an author requires you have written something. Simple, but powerful lesson. If I wanted to publish a book I needed to write a book. And if I wanted to write a book I needed to start with one word on one page and continue from there.

If you want to achieve big goals you have to know what to do first.

 

Why do people follow certain leaders?

Some leaders are more successful than others at attracting people to their team. They seem to have few people leaving, unless they are promoted, and can easily fill any opening they have. What do these leaders do that sets them apart? These great leaders accelerate the dreams of their followers.

Are dreams important? William Shakespeare wrote, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.” The dreams we have for our lives are who we are, who we want to be, where we want to go, there our hope for the future.

So yes, people’s dreams are very important to them. And if you want to be a great leader, they should be important to you. Master motivator, Les Brown laid out the plan for success and dreams when he said, “Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.”

Here are the steps to accelerating the dreams of those who you lead:

Know their dreams. Leading people is nothing more than unlocking the full potential of everyone who follows you. If you want the best team, then you need to know their dreams to bring out their passion in life and work.

“The dreams and passions stored within hearts are powerful keys which can unlock a wealth of potential.”– John Maxwell

Connect their dreams with the team. Each person has unique dreams that are theirs alone. There are many rolls on each team, many activities, many projects, much that needs to be done. Once you discover each person’s dreams, you should find a way to incorporate them into the plans of the team to bring the best thinking to everything you do.

“We need men who can dream of things that never were.”– John F. Kennedy

Lead the dream and the team to succeed. Great leaders can, and must, bring success to their team and to the members of their team. One without the other is not sustainable. The best possible work environment is for everyone to live their dreams while accomplishing the work.

“I don’t dream at night, I dream all day; I dream for a living.”– Steven Spielberg

 

Why comes before How

Understanding how to accomplish something is an important part of being successful. You won’t go far if you don’t know what you are doing. So first we learn how, then we can succeed, right? Wrong. If you really want to win, you first understand why – the purpose of the something you are doing or learning how to do. Because very little that we do is always easy and you will need to hold on to your why when the how is hard.

“Winners are people with definite purpose in life.”– Denis Waitley

Clarity of purpose is especially important when it’s not just you alone working for success, and this is almost always. For some the identification of the team you are on is obvious, for others it is more nuanced. But for almost everyone, you are relying on others to accomplish their individual parts in order to win. The only way this works if there is alignment on purpose.

When you’re surrounded be people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”– Howard Schultz

A few examples of Why

Music – “Bob Marley is a huge influence…I love the purpose of the songs he writes…It takes your worries away and makes you feel good.” – Cobbie Caillat

Research – “Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”– Zora Neale Hurston

Political Leadership – “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”– John F. Kennedy

Art – “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”– Pablo Picasso

We are more likely to win when we keep our focus on why – the purpose – of what we are doing.

Do you know your facts?

Whether in discussion, debate, or decision, you have to know your facts. In order to formulate a well thought out opinion that you can support, you need to do your research, ask questions, and gain a mastery of the topic at hand. You will never know everything you would like to, but you can enhance your chance at success by knowing more than you do today.

The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, said, “I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” The next step after obtaining the facts is putting them to use. As former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. opined, “The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts, but learning how to make facts live.”

Discussion. The best way to get your message across is first and foremost to have a great message. With an understanding of the facts – the vision of where you are trying to go, the conditions under which you are operating, and your plan to achieve the vision – you’re sure to have positive discussions.

“A good rule for discussion is to use hard facts and a soft voice.” – Dorothy Sarnoff

Debate. If you want to make real progress you sometimes have to be willing and able to debate and stand up for your positions when you don’t yet have support. The best debater knows the facts and how to use them to support the position.

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.”– Margaret Heffernan

Decision. In the end, the true measure of how well you know your facts is the decision. If you know your facts, then a decision will be made. If you don’t know your facts well enough, then discussion and debate may continue beyond their productive use. It is not that the decision has to be the one you first proposed, but it must be the one that the facts support.

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”– Tony Robbins

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