Problem Solving 101

March 5, 2014

“Don’t fight the problem, decide it!”  (George C. Marshall)

Yet another sayings that was featured on one of my favorite blog – Jack’s Winning Words

I’ve read elsewhere that when people and animals are suddenly confronted by danger – by a problem – they usually have one of two reactions fight or flight. The reactive response is either to turn and face the issue with an offensive move of your own – to fight – or to turn away and run away from the problem – to take flight as a defensive measure.

There is a difference in the reaction that George Marshall is supporting in today’s little quote. He is not espousing and aggressive, belligerent fight as the solution; nor is he recommending that you run a away and avoid the problem.  By saying “decide it”, he is telling us to use an intelligent approach to the problem. Understand it. Evaluate it. Seek alternative solutions to it, Pick the best alternative. Implement the best solution. Evaluate the results. Choose another solution if the first didn’t work and keep trying. In other words – decide it.

Many of us (I plead guilty to this all too often) just try to let the problem sit there, in hopes that it will eventually go away. That is a form of denial and it solves nothing. In some cases the problem actually gets bigger that longer it’s allowed to go unresolved. That strategy is a form of flight because circling a problem over and over s is as much running away from it as turning your back on it is.

One thing that I’ve finally realized after way too many years is that the problems that we perceive just get bigger than they really are in our own imaginations if we circle around and around them. Worrying and worrying about all of the things that could go wrong if you confront a problem just seems to feed it and make it look bigger. We must eventually turn and face it; but at least we can do so intelligently.

Over the span of a career in the IT technology and services industry, I had the opportunity to take many sales training courses. One of he best was at Xerox during my last foray back into that world. At that course they stressed a technique for dealing with objections (problems) that they reduced to a cute little four letter memory device – CPRT. Those four letters stand for – Clarify, Paraphrase, Respond, Test. I liked that little device enough that I had rubber bracelets with CPRT embossed into them made for my classmates.

CPRT breaks down this way. First you try to Clarify what the problem is. Often it is a lack of clarity about some issue that is at the heart of the problem. Once you have agreement that you understand what the problem is you Paraphrase it back – putting it in your own words and getting agreement with whomever you need to that you have in fact captured the issues. Next you Respond to the problem; you suggest a solution. Finally you Test for whether your response is, in fact, a solution – If I do what I’ve just suggested, will that fix things?

Many times, especially in relationships; once you have clarified the problem and paraphrased it back, your best response may well be an apology. Perhaps the problem was one that you caused with some remark or some slight, real or imagined that you didn’t realize. An apology can defuse many situations. Some times; however, the hurt was so deep, the split so complete, the problem so large, that a simple apology will not fix it. In those cases it is often best to back off and let time work its magic. Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, but it does take the sting off and allow for healing.

It may well be that a relationship damaged by a problem can never be the same as it was before and you have to deal with that. If having a relationship with that person is important to you; you may have to work hard, not to get back to where you were (that may not be possible), but to at least the best place that you both can still get to. Then let it go at that.

So try that mnemonic  CPRT the next time that you hit a problem and see if it helps you. At least it’s better that running around in circles not knowing what to do. That’s another little ditty that used to be popular – when in trouble or in doubt, run in circles scream and shout. I think I prefer CPRT or even better KCCO.

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Problem solving ability and turning experiences into knowledge

January 6, 2014

“Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.” – Steven Wright

I like that little saying that I saw on a blog somewhere. A corollary might well be, “Knowledge is something that you don’t get until after an experience.”   In real estate this is particularly true. The barrier to entry into the real estate business is relatively low. Just about anyone with a few hundred bucks and the ability to learn and be tested can get a real estate license. That and a few bucks more will get you a coffee at Starbucks, but you still won’t be a Realtor®.

Realtors work within a proven system. The most important component of the system is the brokerage, which is responsible for taking the newly minted real estate agent and turning him/her into a Realtor.  Of course there is also the local Multi-List Service, the local Realtor Association, perhaps a state association and the National Association of Realtors. All of these groups provide bits and pieces of the system that the Realtor must learn to work within. That is a part of the experience that the beginner gets, which hopefully starts the process of the accumulating knowledgeaccumulation of knowledge.

Good brokerages will have extensive training programs and perhaps a mentoring program that pairs the newbie with an experienced agent. The broker himself (or more likely the local office manager in larger, multi-office brokerages) will be responsible for the training of the new agent and for monitoring his/her work through their first few real estate transactions. The broker (or manager) serves as both a manager and counselor during this start-up phase. Most brokers and managers have years and years of experience and tons of knowledge about the real estate process.

One can often tell very quickly how successful the new agent will be by watching how he/she uses this important resource. Those who fail and leave the business are most often those who try to go it on their ownhelping hand and don’t leverage the resources of their office to help them over the start-up hump. Many of them get into deep trouble by not asking for help. Conversely, those who cling too tightly to this help and are afraid to try things on their own are also doomed to failure or a career of mediocrity. One must be able to wean oneself from the security of never making a decision on one’s own. A real estate agent is an independent contra

A key to turning the experiences that one has into knowledge is the ability to stop and look back over the experience to see what one can learn from it. Maybe the knowledge gleaned is “I’ll never do that again” or perhaps it is. “OK, I see what I did wrong and how to avoid that problem in the future or work around it if I hit it again.” Both are correct, but the latter is more valuable knowledge because it contains the thought process of learning from the experience and not just avoiding similar situations.ctor, after all, and must eventually become independent.

There is something to be said for seeking out an experienced Realtor, but if you happened to encounter a relatively new agent that you otherwise think is a nice person; ask them how they get help within their office and perhaps ask to meet with their manager or broker. Let that manager know that you expect that they will be assisting the new agent with any issues that come up during your client relationship and see what they say. A new agent will be eager to please you and probably work very hard; you just need to be sure that they understand how to work within the support system that they have around them to get help when they need it.

knowledge funnelA final note is that time on the job alone does not assure that the person putting in the time has gained the knowledge that they should have from the experiences that they’ve had. I’ve met way too many “experienced” agents who still did not fully understand the process or have the ability to work through issues. Many times, one agent or the other in the normal scenario where there are two agents involved (a seller’s agent and a buyer’s agent) will have to take on tasks for both sides in order to get the deal closed; even if both sides are represented by “experienced agents.” Just because an agent can say, “I’ve been in the business for 10-15-20 years”, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve accumulated a lot of knowledge during that time or that they can handle situations that may come up well.

Unfortunately there isn’t any easy way that you can really test the knowledge base and problem solving ability of agents whom you might interview before signing up with them. An in-depth interview that focuses more on how they do business than just how long they’ve been in the business or how many transactions they closed last year is probably the best thing. Asking to talk to 1-2 past clients might also help (assuming that you aren’t the first client) or reading their reviews from past clients, if the company does that sort of thing. You can also ask questions like; “What was your toughest sale/client and how did you handle that?” You should then listen for their problem solving approach and their honesty about the situation and how they handled it. They should be sharing the knowledge that they gleaned from that experience.


So, what’s your problem?

August 12, 2015

On the Jack’s Winning Words Blog today –  “The way we see problems is the problem.”  (Stephen Covey) Jack went on to write –  Everybody’s got problems …big, small, and tweener.  Problems are simply choices that we have to make each day.  S.C. says that problem-solving begins with correctly pinpointing the problem.  “What’s your problem?”  Calmly look for all possible solutions.  Prioritize, and then follow through.  If “1” doesn’t work, try “2”, etc.  And, remember the adage, “Not to decide is to decide.”    😉  Jack
painted into cornerI’ve posted here previously about problem solving; however, Covey’s little quote spurred some additional thinking on the topic. If I was to suggest a slight change to Covey’s quote is would be, “the way we see things as problems is the problem.”  There are, of course, real problems in life; but, then there are the things that we see as problems which are either totally imagined or best just left alone or ignored.

Maybe you know someone who is so paranoid that they believe that everyone is out to get them or that everybody’s talking about them behind their backs. Those people are creating problems out of nothing but their imagination. Of course, since they think there is a problem, they expend a great deal of energy trying to solve those problems. They may run aroundgossip confronting people whom they believe are talking about them or they may spend time denying imagined allegations which they believe are being spread about them; and that’s their real problem.

Others may see things that are best left alone as problems that they should try to do something about. An oversight by someone else becomes a slight against them, in their minds. Not being invited to an event becomes a major problem for them to be investigated and perhaps corrected. These same people may encounter things in life that just occur without thnk about itrhyme or reason and decide that they will try to correct things. They may spend hours or days researching the
“problem” without ever really accomplishing anything. Eventually they lose interest in the problem and wander off in search of the next windmill with which to tilt.

So, maybe Covey should have started his advice on the resolution of problems by saying that first it is important to take a moment to decide if this is really a problem and then maybe is it really your problem? Trying to “solve” something that is not really a problem is frustrating and taking on problems that aren’t really yours is seldom successful. There are problems that are so large and general in nature that they spawn movements to resolve them, so maybe joining a cause is the best solution for you. You won’t solve the problem by yourself, but you can help.

If the problem really is yours, you can follow Covey’s advice and perhaps read my post on Problem Solving 101. Almost all advice on problem solving follows the same path. Another good piece of advice is to keep problems in some perspective. Almost no problem that you will encounter in life is a life or death situation and most are way less critical than we make them out to be. The world will not end if you do not resolve the problem at hand. Don’t let your problem solving efforts totally consume your life. Step back or step away from them every now and then to catch your breath and to re-evaluate their importance to your life. You may be surprised how many of them just evaporate before your eyes as you are e-examining them. Some of them you may just decide to let be andhand reaching for heaven
stop your efforts to solve them; and that’s OK, too. Some of them you may need to take to God and ask Him to
take them off your shoulders. There is an immense sense of relief when you take your problems to God, because you have now engaged the best problem solver ever. You gotta problem with that?


Dealing with life’s problems…

August 8, 2015

“Every problem has an expiration date” – Anon. I saw that recently on a poster in someone’s office and found it to be a great source of comfort to think about.

Many of us get intensely focused upon issues or problems at hand, often to the detriment of everything else and everyone else in our lives. In most cases the deadline for resolving the problem comes and goes and goes and the world does not stop if we have not resolved the issues by that deadline. We may suffer a disappointment or temporary setback, but seldom is any problem as critical as we may make it in our minds. Maybe the confrontation at work was pretty bad or ugly, but you’re still here. Maybe that breakup was just as nasty and painful as you thought it might be, but you’re still here. Maybe that deadline came and went and the result of missing it wasn’t as bad as you imagined – you’re still here.

Sometimes the aftermath of a problem reaching its expiration date can be painful for a while; however, there is also a sense of relief, even of the worst case scenario came true for you. You’re still here. We all have a tremendous capacity to weather the worse storms and go on with life. We just forget about that in the midst of the storm at hand. Perhaps the little Bible phrase “This too shall pass” is the best way to look at things. Yes the problem might be scary or painful or hurtful, but it too shall pass and you’ll still be here.

So, pause a while every day to take a deep breath and put your life and your problems into perspective. No matter what problems you face, they all have expiration dates and unless it’s your time, you’ll still be here. And if it is your time, find relief in the fact that your Faith will carry you to a better place and you’ll still be here.


I don’t need to hear you talk…I need for you to listen

October 4, 2018

I recently wrote a post about getting things out of the shadows. One of those things was depression. As happens every time that I mention depression, I got several likes/comments/follows from people who are dealing with, or have dealt with, depression.

I sometimes go look at the blog sites of people who follow my blog and in this case I perused a post on one of the blog sites that had some interesting advice for those trying to be a help to someone suffering from depression. That post was titled “Why I tried to Commit Suicide”

The gist of the advice from that post was that the person suffering through depression who may reach out for help is not looking for a cheerleader to tell them that everythinggirl with smile picture will be OK. Instead, they are looking for someone to listen to them, share their pain and perhaps offer support.

This blogger also pointed out a common mistake that would-be helpful friend often make – trying to help by reminding them that things could be worse.

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, the quote that Jack used seemed appropriate –

“Knowing that there is worse pain doesn’t make the present pain hurt any less.”  (Gordon Atkinson)

I would characterize the advice of the blogger who shared her journey through the dark tunnels of depression to those who may be trying to help someone suffering through that trauma as follows:

I don’t want your pity; I want your support.

I don’t want to hear how great things are from your point of view; I want you to help me find a way out from my point of view.

I don’t need to hear you talk; I need for you to listen.

That last point may be the most important. When we try to “help” people we all tend to rush to some quick conclusion of what we think we need to do and we start talking.  Basically, we stop listening and start giving advice, even if we don’t yet understand the problem.  We usually miss the signs from that person that we just made a mistake.depression2 Unfortunately, the person who was seeking our help sinks back behind the shield that they had temporarily lowered to ask for our help. They may smile back and nod their head in apparent agreement, but we blew the opportunity to really help.

There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak. (Simon Sinek)

Unfortunately, most of us are so full of ourselves that we are just waiting for the next opportunity to speak, in order to show how brilliant we are. We don’t understand how stupid phrases like “I know how you feel” or “I feel your pain” sound to the person that we think we are trying to help. A more honest statement might be, “I can’t imagine the pain that you are feeling, but I want to try to help.”

caringYou can’t really help until you understand the issues that are causing the pain for that person and you will never understand them until you listen to them. If you have to speak, just ask more questions to keep the conversation focused upon getting to the root of the problems that the person is having such trouble dealing with. Only then can we begin to really try to help.

There are many ways to approach problem solving, once we understand the problems. I have posted her a few time on approaches that might help in this situation as well as helping us solve our own problems. See –

https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/03/05/problem-solving-101/

and

https://normsmilfordblog.com/2015/02/05/making-the-turns-in-life/

Those are two of those posts on problem solving.

However, the point of today’s missive is not to give advice about the solution that you may offer to someone who seeks you help; but, rather, to help you find the best way to help them by listening to them. You may not need to do anything other than that for them.

I think L. J. Isham  put it well – “Listening is an attitude of the heart, a genuine desire listento be with another which both attracts and heals.”

If you want to help – LISTEN!


Believe and the door will open for you…

June 4, 2018

I get an email every weekday from Jack Freed with the latest entry to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Many times they serve as the inspiration for what I post here. Jack finds little quotes from various sources and adds a short comment to each to provoke thought and reflection. I’m sure that he intends that each day’s post stand alone; however I found that two recent posts just seem to go together.

Today’s post was – “Shame on the body for breaking down while the spirit perseveres.”  (John Dryden)

As Jack (and me, too) gets older he is more cognizant of the ravages and toll of age on the body, while the mind can still race around and jump as if it were still young. I certainly notice it more as I try to keep up the gardens around my historic home.

Last Friday’s post was – “Every wall has a door.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Jack used that quote to offer life advice about overcoming difficulties in life. I’ve often written about that topic here.

facing the wall 2It hit me, when I saw those two quotes in juxtaposition in my mail in-box that they really go together as a way to look at the end time of life. After all, death seems to be the final wall that we all face.

Certainly the human body does begin to break down and eventually gives up altogether; however, God has clearly given us a door in that wall, a way to overcome the death of the human body – eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ.

Just as believing that you can overcome obstacles in life is critical to success in problem solving; believing in the eternal life promised by Jesus is critical to opening the door to the wall that death seems to represent.gods-hands-2

Like many other things in life, we all tend to overthink this topic. We focus in our minds too much on the scientific facts that we understand about death and not enough on the promise that our faith demands that we believe. There was another quote, this one from Bob Dylan that Jack used sometime ago that also fits here –

“You either believe or you don’t believe, there ain’t no in between.”

Death is just another wall in our lives and Jesus is the door in that wall. Thus, the title for today’s post – Believe and the door will open for you.

Have a great week ahead…


You decide what kind of day to have…

October 25, 2017

From a list of quotes that I keep on hand came a really meaningful one from Stephen Covey – “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

I’m sure that we all know someone, (perhaps it’s you) who is always lamenting their bad luck and complaining how life seems out to get them. They blame their state in life on the circumstances that have befallen them. Perhaps you also know someone who is athis-is-me Pollyanna-type who always finds a way to make lemonade out of the lemons that come their way. Which are you? Which would you rather be?  The one has decided to be unhappy with life and the other will not let life ruin their happiness. You decide what kind of day you will have.

Let’s face it; stuff happens. Life does not always go as we had planned or hoped. failuresSometimes we just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time and something bad happens. Sometimes we actually make the bad decision to be at that place. Whichever it is, you are then faced with more decisions about how to react to things that are happening or that just happened. Perhaps another quote sums up your situation best: “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” —Charles Swindoll. Since your day is made up of events that you will react to; you decide what kind of day you will have.

I’ve posted her before about reacting to things and problem solving, so I won’t rehash those bits of advice. I think the main thing to focus upon is recognizing that you are reacting to things that are happening around you or to you and that you’re making decisionsdecisions about what to do next, instead of letting some knee-jerk reaction control your future. By being conscious of your situation, you can choose to react in a positive way, rather than a negative way. You can choose to move forward with your life in a positive way, rather than shrinking back or retreating into depression. You can be in control; not of the situation, but of your reaction to it. You decide what kind of day you will have.

In my post – Life is lived somewhere in between – I mentioned a little prayer that I use almost daily to put myself in the right frame of mind for the day – “God help me make good decisions today.” Keeping that little prayer in mind forces me to acknowledge that, right-and-wrongwhile I may not be in control of the things that are happening, I am in control of the decisions that I make in reaction to what is happening. Realizing that causes me to take a little pause and ask myself, “What is the right thing to do?” Just that little pause and that thought will allow you to see what God is telling you to do and you will make better decisions. You decide what kind of day you will have.

Maybe you forgot to say that little prayer this morning and life has already thrown you a curve ball. Maybe your initial reaction to that situation was a knee-jerk response thatwoman-praying took you off in a bad direction. It’s never too late to turn back to God and say “A little help here”. Maybe you need to ask for God to help you recover from a bad decision. God will always be there for you and it’s never too late to ask Him for help. It’s as simple as this little prayer – “Not my will but thy will be done.” You decide what kind of day you will have.

Have a great day! It’s your call.


In God We Trust…

May 26, 2017

Seen on a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog was this saying that Jack said he saw on a protest sign somewhere – “In God we trust; everyone else must cite their data.” 

We live in an era were claims of “fake news” shake our confidence in what we see, hear and read. It is also an era where the so-called “Scientific Method” is under constant attack from those who choose not to believe the data cited by scientists on a variety of In God We Trust on Dollartopics from global warming to the lunar landings. Yet we still print “In God We Trust” on all of our money and pay at least lip service to that motto.

What I think the protest sign was trying to convey is that our belief in God marks the line between things that we say (or think) that we can prove using what is called the scientific method of devising tests in order to prove or disprove a theory. Scientists recently were successful with a test to prove the last great unproven theories that Einstein proposed when he did his work on the nature of time and space – the existence of gravity waves.

When it comes to God, proving or disproving His existence defies any scientific testing and requires that last giant step into the world of just believing. There have been, of course, many cases throughout history that have been well documented of so-called miracles that purportedly occurred because people who believed in god prayed for Him to intercede and change the expected course of the future. The Catholic Church documents at least 3-4 such miracles of intercession with God by candidates for man prayingSainthood; however, that is less of a planned and scientific test than it is a recording, after the fact, of an event in which someone believe that God had a hand. The scientific part may be that the original condition of the person receiving the miracle was well documented and the resulting condition after the miracle is well documented, but the occurrence of the miracle itself remains a mystery.

Perhaps that is as it should be. Even scientists accept that there are things that cannot be explained; things that cannot be tested, which must just be believed. Scientists have long struggled with the answers to the simple questions “what came before that and what caused that”; until they get to the point where the only answer is God.

In our daily lives there are many things that we wrestle with and expend energy on trying to solve or resolve. Many of them can be handles with just good problem solving techniques and I’ve posted about that here before – see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/03/05/problem-solving-101/ as an example. Some things are beyond our ability to solve for others or for ourselves and that is when we should turn to God. I’ve written about that, too, as recently as this month – https://normsmilfordblog.com/2017/05/04/consider-the-alternative-and-turn-to-god/

In reality it is God acting through us that makes either approach work. So, perhaps a woman-prayinggood way to start each day would be to take out your wallet and look at the back of whatever bills you have in it and read the motto – In God We Trust. If you don’t have any bills, look at your coins; it’s printed on them, too. The point is to take that motto to heart and start the day with the thought in mind – In God I Trust. You’ll have a great day, no matter what happens.


You’ll never feel completely ready, so just start…

November 28, 2016

I recently read a great article titled Successful People Start Before They Feel Ready by motivational author and speaker, James Clear. I won’t spoil it for you by revealing the opening, but the gist of the whole thing is not to get too hung up on being ready to take on something new, whether it be a job, an entrepreneurial  opportunity or a new relationship. Just get started.

In my real estate work, I’m under the Real Estate One company brokerage. Real Estate One is a great company for training and developing new real estate agents. The office that I work out of in Milford runs classes for people looking to get their real estate agent licenses several times a year and it always full. A harsh reality in the real estate business is that more than half (maybe as high as 60-70%) of the people who get through the course and get their license will not last a full year in the business. One reason is that they get into it with totally out of line expectations about how much and how fast they can earn and how much they will have to work. I know that the local manager counsels everyone who wants to join our office out of those classes about what they should realistically expect, but many chose to ignore that advice and are gone within their first year.

One of the biggest roadblocks to success for these ”newbie” agents is their feeling that restless sleepthey don’t know enough to handle customer situations. They quite correctly surmise that the training that was required to pass the real estate licensing test is pretty much useless for the day-to-day job of actually being a Realtor®. Real Estate One does provide them with additional training (marketing classes and in-office training on the details of the real estate process); however, they quickly see that there is a ton more to know and the fear of not knowing everything becomes a major roadblock to even trying. Some never overcome that fear and drop out because no business came to them and they were afraid to go after any new business. They feared looking like a fool in front of customers, instead of developing the ability to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out”, as they really learned the business.

Life in general is really like that, too. We’re never going to have enough time to know all that we think we need to know or to get as ready as we feel we need to be, whether it is going into the first day on a new job or going out on a first date. Most of us just don’t feel comfortable because we don’t understand the unknowns – we think that we’re not ready.

The advice that Clear give in his article is that successful people jump in anyway; ready or not. They jump in with those fears still in place, but they also jump in with a sense of jump-inadventure and the self confidence that they will be able to tackle any challenges that come along. If they fail, they fail; and they are OK with that because they will view it as a learning experience. The examples that Clear uses also show that they don’t let temporary setbacks stop them. They find a way to recover and move ahead. Some successful people have said later in life, “I was too dumb to know that it couldn’t be done, so I just did it.” They weren’t dumb; they just weren’t afraid to just get started.

Even in situations like asking for a date, feelings of not being ready can creep in and stop someone in their tracks. Maybe you feel like you don’t have enough money for a date or perhaps that you don’t have nice enough clothes. Maybe it’s concern that you don’t have someplace special planned to go or something special in mind to do. Maybe you lay there awake and night wandering what you would talk about in a date. What would you say about yourself? What would you say to him/her? You think that you’re not ready. Don’t live the rest of your live with a bad cases of the coulda, woulda, shoulda’s about that person that you missed your opportunity just with because you felt like you weren’t ready. Just get started.

problem-solverInstead of focusing upon the things that you don’t know and the things you fear that someone may ask of you, focus instead of doing the best that you can, being as honest as you can and being unafraid of saying, ”I don’t know, but I know how to find out.” Just get started and take the rest as it comes. Successful people tend to be good problem solvers, but the problems that need to be solved, in order to reach success, will never occur, if you don’t get started.

I’ve posted here a few times about effective strategies and techniques for problem solving, so review a few of those posts.  Expecting that problems will occur and being mentally ready to go into problem solving mode is perhaps the best way to get prepared. Many successful people might even tell you that the real adrenaline rushes that came with success came from meeting challenges and solving problems along the way. starting

I know that it’s Monday and you had a long weekend. You haven’t had time to get as prepared as you would like; but, be successful today, this week and this year. Get started.


Get started, already…the rest will take care of itself.

October 18, 2016

For many people, especially young people or people just starting a new career, the fear that they don’t know enough holds them back, even to the point of paralysis. That is restless sleepparticularly true ion the real estate business than I’m in. It is a fear of getting into a situation with which they are unfamiliar or being asked a question by a client that they don’t know the answer to that causes them to delay seeking or taking on clients.

I recently read an article sent to me by the manager of our local real estate office – Successful people start before they feel ready – by James Clark. It told the story of a young man who dropped out of school and started his first venture – a magazine for local college students. The story when on to chronical how he added a mail order record business, then opened a record store and eventually a record label. Over the next 50 years he went on to start or buy over 400 companies and today is a billionaire. That young man, who just kept pushing into new ventures, whether he felt ready or not, is Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand and owner of companies in the music, airline, train and mobile phone businesses, among others. Read the whole article here.

It seems that these successful people do not let fear of the unknown stop them from trying in business or in life. Branson is also a daredevil adventurer. I suspect that they actually thrive on the adrenaline that far brings with it, trusting in their own abilities to overcome adversity. They likely do not fear failure either, since they know that they will learn from boy-jumping-into-lakeeach failure.

Not all of us are adrenaline junkies, but all of us can be more successful in life by heeding the advice not to let our concerns (fear) that we don’t know enough to even attempt something new. I offer two pieces of advice that I gleaned from my favorite source, the Jack’s Winning Words blog and saved for just such a post.

“You know more than you think you do.”  (Benjamin Spock)

“Do not be afraid…for the Lord will be with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9)

Benjamin Spock wrote the definitive book for new parents – Baby and Child Care. His advice has been followed for decades and one aspect of it was that parents actually know more about caring for their children that they think they do. Some of it is common sense, which is also a big aspect of dealing with anything new. The other skill that most people have, at least to some degree, is the ability to problem solve. In any new venture, set-backs should not be looked at as failures; but, rather, as problems to be solved. Know that you will hit roadblocks or questions that you have not encountered before and be prepared to use your problem solving skills.

The second saying is from the Bible and should be the rock upon which you build your self-helping handsesteem and confidence when approaching new things. If you start with the thought in mind that the Lord will not abandon you in tough situations and will give you the strength to find solutions to the problems that you encounter, how can you go wrong? With that in mind, the second most important thing is to be unafraid of saying, “I don’t know, but I know where to go to find out.” Saying, “I don’t know” does not label you and a failure, so long as you demonstrate confidence that you can and will deal with the situation or question. Tossing off a wrong answer or lying to appear to be knowledgeable will get you into more hot water than an honest, “I don’t know.” Clients will not abandon you for that honest answer, so long as you follow up with the answer, once you have found it.

So, maybe before you start each day in a new job, or in the midst of new experiences, you should pause and say a little prayer like, “Stick with me today God and help me work my way through whatever I encounter.” Then you can walk out the door feeling confident that God is with your and that you are ready to take on the unknown.  You are already ahead of the game because you got started.

Have a great and successful week ahead. Just remember God is with you wherever you go.