Most people believe that their problems are unique to them. Many people believe problems are not a good thing to have. Some people make a living solving other people’s problems. And then there’s me: my problem is that I see problems like mosquitoes hovering around me in the woods and frankly they just bug me. I want to know the nature of problems—and, more importantly, how to get rid of them.
This is what I know so far:
- Problems are, by nature, problematic. Collectively, we have environmental, political, economic, and social problems. Individually, we have health, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual problems. All problems can be frightening, challenging, and controversial.
- Problems are persistent. They keep coming back if not solved properly.
- Problems are timeless and universal. Everyone who has ever lived, everyone who is living now and everyone who will live in the future has and will have essentially similar problems.
- Problems are paradoxical and hierarchical. We have global problems and we have local problems. These problems can be simple or complex. Whether global or local, simple or complex, some problems are more important at different times in different places.
- Problems are common and ordinary. Everyone has problems and everyone solves problems in their own way. We are addicted to problems. We love to talk about our problems and we especially love to solve the problems of others! Problems are rationalizations and justifications for just about anything that happens in this world. We fill our newspapers and TV’s with them. Books and movies are built around them. Yet problems also are the very essence of human progress and individual growth.
Studying problem-solving doesn’t help
With this profound clarity about the nature of problems, I have come to this staggering self-evident conclusion: If you live, then you will have problems. Problems are requisite to life as we know it. Yet even if we know that problems are problematic, timeless, universal, paradoxical, hierarchical, common, and ordinary, we still haven’t determined how to solve them.
So, I embarked on a study of everyday problem-solving. I watched my neighbors solve problems. I talked to business people about their problems. I listened to politicians talking about problems on TV and in newspapers. I read books about famous problem solvers and I researched problem-solving on the Internet.
I came away more confused than ever.
Finally, I concluded that the world needed a new problem-solving methodology that was simple and easy. Based on my research into the principles of integrity, I created a seven-step, sure-fire, principle-based problem-solving methodology.
That went out the window when I watched my ten-month-old son solve the basic problem of standing. I couldn’t teach him the seven-step approach— and besides, he seemed to be doing fine all by himself.
The built-in method
That son of mine cannot hold a conversation in any language and is just now grappling with the notion of “no”. He barely understands the notion of balance, let alone the laws of physics required to stand up.
Yet he was solving the problem of standing naturally. It was as if some internal compass pointed to the problem and the internal physical and mental systems required to complete the job kick-started all by themselves. Without even knowing what he expected to accomplish, he began the process of overcoming his present limitations.
He was solving the problem spontaneously and creatively as well. Every time he got the opportunity, he leveraged himself up in any way he could, using any possible physical object within reach. He was unrelenting in his pursuit. Every day in every way he was practicing and learning.
He also had a good attitude toward problem-solving. He was undeterred by success or failure. If he fell down, he got up. If he got up, he tried to walk. He was not looking for approval. He was not competing with anyone or for anything. He didn’t care about his ten-month-old friend who could already walk.
Problem-solving via wholeness
Integrity is defined as wholeness, consistency, and objectivity. In simple words, it is doing the right thing, doing the next right thing, and doing things right.
Wholeness is the state of completeness. The problem of not being able to stand was overcome in order that he could become complete standing in order to solve the problem of walking. Becoming complete is a natural process that begins with conception.and includes a built-in compass that identifies and engages problems. Problem-solving becomes a natural process that stimulates the journey to completion.
Consistency is the state of holding things together in time and space. Following the natural inclination to overcome the problem of standing, a baby is disciplined and relentless in its use of time and incredibly creative in using everything in the immediate world to complete the task.
Objectivity is the ability to deal with the features and characteristics of the problem, not the thoughts about the problem. Babies are pure in their approach. They don’t think about the problem the way we do. They just work on it and learn from it. Nor does a baby measure success or failure the way we measure it. They are not looking for fame, fortune, or power. They solve problems without competition and stress.
What does this mean for you and me?
Integrity based problem solving simply means getting back to these basics:
- Problem-solving is a natural and essential process that we are well equipped to do even if we have forgotten how. And problems never go away even if we want them to. So we better get good at it!
- You have everything you need right in front of you to solve problems. You have all time you need and more than enough resources. Even if you are not good at one type of problem, you can always hire someone who is.
- Problem-solving will teach you purity of thought and objectivity in action. Aren’t these goals enough of reason to engage any problem?
The next time you have a problem, try the integrity-based approach. Do the right thing, do the next right thing, and do things right.