Be a solution, not a problem!

November 17th, 2011 @   -  No Comments

If you were the captain of a ship and found yourself in a situation similar to Nooh (AS) where you have all types of animals on board, but your ship is overloaded and about to sink, what would you do? If you start throwing rabbits, beavers and other small animals, your ship would keep sinking. But by throwing one elephant, things would improve drastically.

Some time back, I had two individuals reporting to me. Alimi used to bring only problems to my desk, to the point where every time he approached me, I only saw a problem coming to me. His ongoing complaints wore the team down.

On the other hand, Fandi made mistakes but whenever he brought a problem to my attention, he always suggested possible solutions. He discussed the problem in a way that showed he carefully thought about it. Whenever I saw Fandi, I saw a solution.

If there were a possibility of promotion, who do you think would come to my mind first? In times of crisis, where the organization would have to downsize, who do you think would be laid off first?

A few months after working for us, Alimi was clearly seen as the elephant of the organization. He was the first to be thrown out of the ship. Fandi, on the other hand, was promoted to the next level

The question is, how do people see you? Do they see you as an elephant or as a solution? The way you deal with problems and your attitude towards problems draw a clear picture about you in people’s minds.

For people to see you as a solution you need to develop a solution-oriented mindset. The good news is that you can develop this type of mindset. And here are a few suggestions:

State your problem clearly - A problem well stated is a problem half solved

A problem only exists if there is a difference between what is really happening and what we want to see happening. If we cannot describe what we would like to see happening, we are just complaining. To state your problem clearly, ask yourself this question, “What are you trying to achieve?” “What would you like to see happening?” Knowing what you are trying to achieve, keeps you focused on solutions.

Turn your complaint into useful suggestions – Don’t find faults, find remedies

When faced with problems, do you just talk about them and simply report them? Or do you always think of possible solutions? Talking about problems without having the intention of solving them is simply a waste of time and energy. Remember, problems are in the past, solutions are now!

Ask better questions – If you want better answers, then ask better questions

Our first reactions to problems are often negative, bringing to mind questions like “Who is responsible for this situation?” or “Who is going to solve the problem?” These types of questions direct our mind towards complaining and finger pointing which ultimately lead to inaction and frustration. By contrast, turning your thinking around and asking better questions like “How can I help to solve the problem?” and “What can I do to improve the situation?” will direct your mind to focus on action and on what you can do to make things better.

See problems as challenges – You can gauge leaders by the size of the problems they tackle

On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, suppose you are at level 3 facing a level 5 problem. It would look big to you. To face such a challenge, you need to patiently   develop the right belief, attitude and abilities to deal with a level 5 problem.  Similarly,  when you develop yourself and grow to become a level 7 person and with a level 7 perspective the same problem would look small or  non-existent. In other words, problems test our patience, skills and should be viewed as challenges with growth potential and opportunities for us to expand our abilities to adapt and respond. Al Mutanbi, an Arab poet wrote:

             Small things are greatly magnified in the eyes of the small one,

        And great things are diminished in size in the eyes of the great one.

Do your best and do not worry about the rest – Faith is your source of strength

A few years ago, I was introduced to a Muslim guy who was going through some difficulties. He was very worried and felt helpless. After listening to him, I said, “What if I told you that I knew someone who is very rich and very powerful. If you would ask Him, He would help you and would give you only what is best for you.” I could see the excitement and comfort in his face.  Then, he asked me for the person’s contact details. I replied,  “He has a free direct line. The channel of communication with Him is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He is the Sustainer and the Provider.” Upon hearing my reply, I could see a little bit of disappointment in his face!. The bottom line is this: when you have done what you can but still feel hopeless and overwhelmed; you need to reconnect with your Creator. “Certainly no one despairs of God’s mercy, except the people of disbelief.” (Quran 12-87)

Help others and God makes your problems easier

My friend was frustrated because he found no one around to help him. I asked him this question, ‘’How many people have you helped in the last few weeks?’’ The answer is none. How can we expect others to help us and God to make things easy for us, when we are not helping anyone? The Prophet (PBUH) said, “….Whoever solves someone else’s problem, God will make things easy for him in this world and the Hereafter…God is ever assisting His servant as long as that servant is helping others. “(Muslim).

In this time of personal, social and economic challenges, people are looking for solutions, not problems. So be a solution, not an extra problem.

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