Monday, February 8, 2010
Genius level thinking is not reserved only for highly mentally gifted. Geniuses have a system for how to work through problems, which they may or may not be conscious of. Once you learn the system, you can use it to solve problems the way geniuses do. The difference between them and you is that they've simply used their system longer than you have. Once you gain some practice with it, internalize it, and begin to use it automatically, the people in your life will see you as a genius to.
Here are the 7 steps to genius level problems solving.
In most cases, we tend to think that the symptoms of a problem are the problem itself. We then set off to address the symptom. After our time and effort has been spent, the symptom has been temporarily eliminated. Since we did not solve the root cause of the problem, the symptoms will return again and again. Geniuses spend a large portion of their problem solving time in identifying the true problem. They understand that a problem can be resolved once and for all if they can identify its causes. When the root causes of a problem are found, all of the symptoms of that problem also vanish. It's the equivalent of killing 10 birds with one stone. Plan on spending a lot of time and thought on finding the real problem. If you begin with a symptom, ask yourself what causes it to be a problem for you. When you find an answer, ask yourself again what cause it to be a problem for you. Somewhere between 5 and 10 "why's" deep, you'll find the root cause of the problem.
When we have a "big" problem in our lives, we sometimes become overwhelmed by it. We see it as insurmountable. We don't believe we can get passed it and it becomes a major source of stress and worry. Since we can't see life without this problem, it seems unsolvable. Our thoughts repeat on the phrase, "it's impossible". Our mindset is that this problem has us in its grasps. Geniuses believe that all problems are temporary and solvable. Think about a major problem in your life 3 years ago. Remember your mindset at that time? You didn't know how you would ever get passed that situation. Yet, here you are 3 years later. As you look back to 3 years ago, you realize that the problem that was gigantic then is either greatly reduced or not a problem at all today. Geniuses start with that perspective in mind. They know that it's usually not as bad as it seems today. Also, they don't waste their time thinking about aspects of the problem that they cannot change. They know that a major part of any problem is their thoughts about it. So, if they can't change a circumstance contributing to a problem, they focus on the aspects of the problem they can change. Understand that new problems create new perspectives. Therefore, welcome the challenges because they stretch your minds. It is that mental stretch and growth that allows you to see major problems from 3 years ago as minor today. Fast forward the process. View problems as challenges, know that they are temporary, and that a solution can be found.
We typically direct our minds toward what we should do as the first step towards solving a problem. Then, we focus on the next step, and then the next. Eventually, we may hit an obstacle that makes the solution path we were following ineffective. So, we try again with a new first step, and another, and another to see where that leads. This can often result in frustration, lack of faith in how things are going, and the creation of brand new problems while trying to solve the current one. Geniuses make their first step visualizing the end state. They focus on a vision of the true problem and all of its components and symptoms solved. By doing this, they begin to understand how it will feel once the problems are solved, and they receive clues from that vision as to the correct solution path. In "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey lists one habit as "begin with the end in mind". This is what geniuses do, and you can do it too. Know where you are going before you try to get there. Knowing the end state, and keeping it in mind until the problem(s) is/are solved is a major contributor towards resolution.
When someone begins to think of solutions to a problem, they tend to think about problems in their past and how they solved them. Sometimes there are great clues there. Other times, the current problem is unique enough to require a fresh perspective. Also, fixing the real problem may require a multi-layered solution verses a standard one-action reaction. Geniuses brainstorm. They will sit down and think through dozens of solutions. Even the solutions that at first glance they may think won't work are viable solutions for them at this stage. Even when they think they've found solutions that are perfect, they keep going. They come up with as many solutions as they think they can, and then squeak out a few more until they have 20 - 30 possibilities. Then the magic happens. Combinations of those possibilities jump out to sometimes form brand new solutions to completely solve the problem. When they are done, they know that the problem will be solved, and they know exactly how it will be done. Take out a pad and a pen. Write down 20 - 30 possible solutions for the real problem you've identified. You'll find that it's easy to get the first 10 down on paper. Typically, you'll find that the next 5 are a bit off the wall and unrealistic. However, those last 5 to 15 possibilities are where your creative juices start to kick in. You switch from pulling solutions from your memory and begin creating new possibilities. This is the stuff of genius level thinking!
Most of us never plan our solutions out. We keep throwing stuff at our problems until something sticks, we go with it, and we hope for the best. Geniuses plan. Armed with the vision of the end state, and a solution or a group of solutions, they create a plan to implement those solutions. They determine what they need, help they need to request from others, the timeline it needs to be done within, and they move forward. Many of us have no problem planning out a vacation, a birthday party or a night out on the town. Those are the same skills you'll use here. The difference is that instead of a fun evening, you'll successfully eliminate a major problem from your life permanently. Isn't that worth taking some time to plan for?
Procrastination, perfectionism, and denial are the enemies of action. When we know there is something major we must do, many of us all of a sudden find 10 other things that we think we need to do right now. We spend the time on things that can wait and ignore the major problem we could resolve right now. Also, we often stop our own progress because we don't think we have everything perfect. We'd rather not act and wait until we have everything perfectly laid out than to begin making strides towards resolution. Geniuses act. They act now, they act swiftly, and they act with confidence. It's not that they know all of the answers. They are confident in knowing that they will make mistakes and learn from them along the way. They don't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, as Barrack Obama often says. When the time comes to act, they do so. Don't wait. Now that you have a solution to a problem you once thought was big and overwhelming, don't sit on it. Know that mistakes are a part of the process, and that you will make far less mistakes moving through these steps than just trying anything. Trust the process, trust your solutions and trust yourself.
There are some folks that are going to do what they want to do, even when they know their plan has a flaw. Rather than change course along the way when necessary, they move forward as if their plan was written in concrete and they have no other options. Geniuses monitor their progress against the end state vision they have in their mind and adjust course along the way to ensure they fulfill that vision. They understand that as they proceed along their plan, they learn more, get smarter and need to make adjustments here or there if they are going to succeed. They are committed to their end state vision. They understand that their plan is a means towards that end. Observe the results you are getting, project your thoughts forward to see if you are on track towards your end state vision, and adjust your plan as needed. No plan is perfect, and all plans need fine tuning as you move further down the solution path. Adjusting the plan here are there doesn't mean the plan was bad. It's a natural part of the process that should be embraced if there is a need to succeed. These seven simple steps will aid in solving any problem you come across.
Practice using this system and you can become a genius-level thinker.
Posted by Muhammad Zeeshan Hussain at 11:19 AM