OK -- 2009 has arrived. In all it's glory. And, as usual, we are faced with a host of predictions for this new year. Some are wonderful; most are filled with doom and gloom. Well, here's what I have to say about that:
"DON'T THROW AWAY TOMORROW!"
The Shelf Life of Problems!Problems have a short shelf-life in the scheme of things. The problems we are facing right now are fleeting. They say history repeats itself and even a cursory look at the past reveals the truth of that statement. My Mother's favorite response was "This too shall pass." A friend's Mother used to say "In 100 years it won't even be remembered." How true those statements are.
The only problems you cannot solve are the problems you decide to ignore. I love Mary Kay's comment on that: ". . . over, under, around or through." Ain't it the truth. If you ignore the elephant in the room, eventually it will become all-consuming.
tongue. Back then we called it senility. Today we'd view it as dementia or Alzheimer's. Grandma's bedroom was the former front parlor on the first floor of our old Victorian house. The stairway leading to the second floor was just outside her doorway. If you went up the center of the stairwell she could see you from her chair. If you shimmied along the left wall, she could not. As a teen I spent several years "inching" quietly along that side wall to avoid dealing with my grandmother. Over time I became obsessed with it. Did it change anything? Nope. Grandma continued to yell and scream at us --- even if we were upstairs. All it did was keep me from confronting her and dealing with her "problems" face-to face. Instead of being pro-active I spent those years being reactive.
Reactive vs. Creative!As a friend pointed out recently, the words "reactive" and "creative" use the same letters. Good point --- one I never thought about. Instead off wasting time feeling trapped by problems, why not get creative and face those problems directly? The sooner we do this, the sooner we can move beyond the roadblock to something more productive.
What is the greatest problem you are currently facing with your business?
- Take a piece of paper and make a list of those items you feel present true roadblocks to your success at the moment.
- Rearrange them in order of importance.
- Now take a slip of paper and cover all but the first entry on the list. Look at that entry and ask yourself the following questions:
(b) If it is a problem, realistically, how soon must you deal with it?
(c) Now list 5 ways in which you could deal with it.
Why do I say 5 ways? Because that will force you to think outside the box. There are nearly always alternatives --- some better then others. When I start looking for 5 ways to solve a problem I often come up with some really funny ideas that make me laugh. However, after looking at those off-the-wall ideas long enough, they often contain the seeds for a real solution to the problem. Such innovation is where TRUE problem solving exists. It's what inventors and scientists and mathematicians use to solve problems. It's the difference between ignoring something and finding a workable solution.
Put Together A Creative Game PlanWork your way through the list --- then reorganize the entries based on the new insight you gained from your careful examination of each issue. Now you have a game plan. You know which problems are the most needy and you have 5 creative ways of dealing with each issue.
If --- like many of us --- you work better with vizualization --- get out the yellow post-its and use a blank wall or closet door to create your "Problem Tree." Tackle your tree one problem at a time. As you try or discard a potential solution, remove/update the yellow stickies. When you solve a problem, remove all the stickies related to that problem. You'll be amazed at how good you will feel watching the problems "shrink" from your wall.
The important thing is this: You can only solve problems if you engage them. Why do you think theater groups have dress rehearsals? Because it brings to the forefront problems which have not yet been identified. Dress rehearsals are where problems are addressed and the show REALLY comes together.
Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal!Dress rehearsals work well for problem solving --- as long as we stay around for the show. In these tough economic times don't give up before your show hits the stage. Do what needs to be done to move your business forward. Make your list, set your goals and move forward.
Everyone has problems. Everyone face obstacles that feel overwhelming at times. You are unique in what you offer your clients. This market allows all of us a great opportunity to streamline our product and help others survive in difficult times. As small businesses, we are uniquely positioned to provide clients with tools that are both productive and cost-effective. Let them see what we bring to the table -- the value of perserverance and innovation. If WE can do it, surely they can rely on us to help THEM do it. Don't throw away tomorrow. Work at making it better for you and your clients! Lead to succeed!