“Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution.”
– Norman Vincent Peale
I know a thing or two about solving problems.
- In the 6th grade, I joined a school group for smart kids called Future Problem Solvers. We competed internationally to find solutions to challenges like recycling hazardous waste on the moon (though I remember the bus trips and dances more fondly).
- In the government, I sped to the top of policy making, focusing on strategic planning and institutionalizing solutions.
- In yoga, I specialize in getting to the root of structural imbalances and deeply re-training the body.
Here’s what I discovered in my 20+ years of focusing on strategic solutions: The reason people struggle to solve problems is because they’re not actually trying to solve the problem.
They’re trying to patch the symptom.
- Sick? Take a pill.
- Pain? Take a different pill and get a massage or see the PT if it’s bad enough.
- No clients? Get a new website and rework your offerings once more time.
- Unhappy? Get a new job, move, and start over somewhere else.
But symptoms aren’t problems and no amount of “fixing” them will solve your real issue.
You’ve got to dig deeper.
Here’s an example I see frequently in yoga: A client comes to me with neck pain. But the neck is high up the body, and there are lots of opportunities for problems to start down below.
So we start at the feet and work up:
How do they stand? Where is the weight in their feet? Is their pelvis tilted forward, back, or neutral? Is the spine hyper or hypo-curved?
Because the answer to the problem lies at the root of the problem.
You can’t find the root if you keep looking at the flower.
The cause of a client’s neck pain is most likely some other part of the body and NO amount of working on the neck will solve the issue.
In fact, often it’s not a problem in the body at all, but a decision the mind made to hold the body in a certain way – an emotional habit being played out in physical form.
Focusing on the symptom will never solve that problem.
Which is the same mistake I see business owners make all the time.
My clients come to me for help designing packages or finding clients, but – just like in the body – those are symptoms of a structural problem.
So I take them back to the beginning – their unique purpose.
Because if your business isn’t an expression or attempt to fulfill your purpose, something will always feel off.
Then we work from there.
Is your message in line? Do your beliefs support your efforts? Is your business geared towards the right audience and structured to serve them in a way they recognize?
If we asked these questions first, we’d go in circles.
If you’re a business owner, you know what I mean – it can feel like we spend all of our time spiraling through the same debates and issues in the beginning.
But there’s a way out of the cycle – dig deeper.
Trace the path of your pain back to its roots. Go back to your highest vision of the world. Go back to your mission – how you want to bring it to life now.
And follow the stem from there.
Because once you find the real problem, the solution is easy.
“A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.”
– Dorothea Brande