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.


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.


A new year…A new you?

January 1, 2020

I saw a quote on the music channel recently that seems apropos for today-

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” – Fulton Oursler

If that description fit for you, perhaps it’s time for a change. Today is the perfect day to start changing your life. Yesterday was a day to look back on the events of the past year. Today is the day to look ahead to the New Year and resolve to make the changes that are necessary in your life to make it better. Why? Because what happens next is really up to you. It’s your destiny.

William Jennings Bryan said it best – “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.”

I also like this quote attributed to Unknown – “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”

So, use today as your starting point. Take note of your current situation, not with regret; but, so that you can measure your progress as you move in that new direction. Don’t let yourself think that it’s too late for you to change. Bikram Choudhury said -“Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.”

A big roadblock to change for some is just recognizing the things that need work – that need to change. What to change in order to make a difference in your life is often as simple as adjusting your attitude, your outlook on life. There is a fine line between being realistic and being pessimistic. The pessimist sees the challenges ahead and admits defeat before he even starts. A realistic person sees those same challenges and begins formulating a plan to overcome them. The line that separates the two is called optimism. It is better to be an optimistic realist than a pessimist any day.

Maybe you can decide today that you are going to start each day looking forward to what is to happen, rather than dreading it. A big part of looking forward is having goals that you are working towards. Those goals may be short or long term and most will usually have multiple steps along the way, so chose a step that must be taken and make that your goal for today. Another part is confidence that, no matter what comes your way, you are prepared to deal with it. That confidence comes when you develop a good problem solving method and stick to it. See my post on Problem Solving 101 for a start on that.

You will quickly find that the world is a much better place when you approach it with a positive, upbeat attitude. People will enjoy being around you and in many cases that leads to more success in business, as well as in life. Not only that; you will actually enjoy life more when you spend less time in the dark dungeon of despair and more time in the sunshine of happiness. That will happen when you decide to heed the advice of Anthony J. D’Angelo –  “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”  Once you decide to do that, you will not spend time in the darkness of despair because, as Helen Kellor once said – “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”

So, use today to reset your outlook on life. The choice of what to do in the coming year is really a no-brainer. Find an optimistic happy place and vow to stay there this year. Don’t dread what life throws at you; rather, relish the opportunities to overcome adversity and learn from your mistakes on your journey to your goals.

Have a great New Year by becoming a new you!


Whining about it is a waste of time…

December 11, 2019

In today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote – “Realize that if you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have the time to do something about it.”   (Anthony D’Angelo)

Whining about things seems to be a favorite pastime for many, maybe because it is the easiest things to do when faced with a roadblock or setback or calamity. Whining is sometimes a cry for sympathy or help, but most often ii is just a convenient excuse for doing nothing about whatever it is that troubles the whiner. For them, it seems to take less effort to whine about it than to do something about it. Whining about it is a waste of time…

Now, sometimes having a good cry about something is a healthy emotional release. Once the tears stop, the next step should be about getting on with life and not about going into whining mode. There is an old saying that “misery loves company”, but nobody really likes to be around a whiner. That is why people try to avoid the “Debby Downer” types at work or socially. No one really expects, or hopes, to hear a long list of ailments or health complaints when they say to someone, “How are you?” Whining about it is a waste of time…

So, how do you implement the second half of today’s quote and do something about whatever it is that is bothering you? If it’s a problem that has you down, trying some of the problem solving steps that I’ve written about here many times (to start see my Problem Solving 101 post). If the issue concerns your health, the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship, there are other steps that you can take to deal with it, rather than just whining about it. Whining about it is a waste of time…

Issues with one’s health can be particularly difficult because the initial reaction to bad health news is that there is nothing that you can do – it is what it is. The fight or flight reaction sets in and many use whining as their flight response. They seek comfort in someone else’s response to their bad news. Those people seldom appear in the nightly news stories about survivors of various forms of cancer or other ailments or afflictions. The people who appear in those stories chose to fight instead of whining. Instead of using what time you may have been told you have left whining about it, why not choose to fight instead and use that time finding a way to prove the prognostication wrong. You will find that many more people rally around a fighter than those who choose to commiserate with a whiner. Whining about it is a waste of time…

For those instances of the loss of a parent, child or life mate, the choice is more focused upon getting on with life and putting your memories of that person into proper perspective. For some, whose loved ones were taken by preventable circumstances; instead of whining about it they turn to doing something about it. That is how M.A.D.D. got started and how many worthwhile charities got started. The people left behind decided to try to do something to prevent the recurrence of the tragedy that befell them, instead of just whining about it. Whining about it is a waste of time…

The end of a relationship can also lead to whining or to actions. Step one is always accepting the fact that the relationship has ended. That is difficult for some and can lead to bad actions or disaster. For most, it is a matter of putting more time into answering the question, “What now?”  It is a time for some self-reflection. The breakup of a relationship is seldom a completely one-side decision. The importance of taking a little time for self-reflection is to understand the role that your own actions or reactions played in the end of the relationship. It is not a time to beat yourself up; but, rather, to understand what you might do differently in a future relationship. Whining about it is a waste of time…

So, did I mention that Whining about it is a waste of time…


What pain will you turn into a strength?

December 7, 2019

A post to the blog, Jack’s Winning Words ,not too long ago used this quote – “Life is very interesting.  In the end some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.”  (Drew Barrymore) 

You could substitute other words like challenges or tribulations or roadblocks or setbacks for the word “pains” in the quote, and add the word “overcoming” right before the word “some”. If you did that, I think you would have what Barrymore was trying to say.

At the time that they are occurring, trials and tribulations don’t feel good and you usually don’t think about how you will look back on the events that are unfolding as a learning and growth experience. However, extraordinary events, especially bad events, force us grow by forcing us outside of our comfort zone and into problem solving mode.

My wife and I often use a little phrase between ourselves as a tension breaker, when we’ve hit a hiccup in life. We say, “someday we’ll look back on this an laugh”. We’ve had a lot of laughs in our 53 years of marriage, much of it over things that felt bad when they occurred. To a certain extent what we end up laughing at is not the event; but, rather, how we reacted to the event.

So, how does a pain, a failure, a setback in life become a strength? It has to do with building your store of wisdom and your character at the same time.  Wisdom and character don’t just happen or increase on their own; they happen and grow because you have been “through” something – some adversity or new experience. They can both grow from good things happening as they do from dealing with the bad things in life.

I’ve posted here many times about problem solving, so I won’t repeat that advice. What I want to add to that advice is that you make a conscious effort while going through the problem solving process to learn from it and to find a new strength in the solution. Maybe you can use a slight variation on the little saying that I use with my wife and say to yourself, “someday I’ll look back on this and appreciate what I’ve learned from it.” You will have learned things about both the event and about yourself and how you reacted to it. Both add to your wisdom base.

Life’s pains can seem to be overwhelming. Take some time each day to think about the “pains” in your life and how you are dealing with them. While you are in that introspective mode, take a moment to ask for God’s help with them. Trusting in God to help with your pains allows you to step back a little bit and gain some perspective on them. Oft times, that ability to “see” the pain in the broader perspective of life will allow you to regain enough control to be able to effectively apply the logic of problem solving. No matter what the pain, dealing with it can be broken down into a series of manageable, solvable steps. Step 1 is to get God involved.

It is interesting that some of the best motivational speakers on problems like drug addiction or human trafficking or other horrible pains in life are recovered addicts, or people who were sex trafficked themselves. They have found ways, not only to overcome the pains, but also to turn them into strengths in their lives.

What pains are you facing? How can you turn them into strengths? Have you asked for God’s help yet? Take step 1 and  turn your pains into strengths.


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Look for the door today…

December 2, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “Every wall is a door.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson) 

Life often throws things at us that appear to be walls – things preventing us from moving ahead. In bad times, it can feel like the walls are boxing us in and closing in on us. All of these times are opportunities to look for the door that Emerson alluded to in his quote.

Yesterday I wrote about dealing with crises and I have posted more than once about problem solving. A key to both is seeing that there is a door, an opportunity, in every wall that life throws our way. So, instead of sitting there moaning, “woe is me” in hard times, one needs to start searching for the door in that wall and figuring out how to open it.

If you ever watched the old Price is Right show, you know that they often presented contestants with multiple doors. They would tell the contestant that behind one of the doors was a really great prize, but behind the other(s) was a bust. The contestant then had to choose a door. Sometimes we are presented with multiple doors in the walls that life throws at us. We know that one of the doors will lead to a good outcome, but that some of the doors could lead to even bigger trouble. Many are frozen in place by the choice and are unable to get through the wall. Some just continually choose the wrong doors in life and sink deeper and deeper into trouble.

Wouldn’t life be so much better if you had help finding the doors in your walls and then choosing the right one to go through? There is a cute cereal commercial running right now in which a father advises a young girl about to ride off on her bicycle to make good choices. We are not told where she is going or why, nor do we get any insight into the choices that she may have to make. Life is like that. We don’t know what choices we will be faced with today or how many walls may be thrown up in our way. The things that we can do is to set out with the thought in mind that we will make good choices and find he doors in whatever walls we encounter. Just taking the approach that we will find the door in those walls is our first good choice of the day.

So, where is the help in all of that? Maybe it is in pausing at the start of each day to say a little prayer, a prayer that God helps you make good choices throughout the day. That gives you a sense of confidence that you are not alone in facing those walls and the courage to pick a door and go through it. You are not asking God to solve all of the problems that come your way, but rather to give you the wisdom and courage to make good choices and find the way through those walls.

Don’t stand there lamenting that you have hit a wall…find the door to your future today. Ask for God’s help and the door will appear.


How will you handle the crises in your life?

December 1, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack Freed used this quote from John F. Kennedy  – “When written in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters—one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” 

We will all face a few crises in our lives or at least situations that we feel are crises. How we react to them perhaps depends upon which of the Chinese characters we see. Do you see only the danger in a crisis or can you see the opportunity. We see and hear on the news almost daily about “heroes” who spring into action to rescue someone who is experiencing a crisis moment – perhaps involving an accident or fire or some other calamity. I’m sure that those heroes see the danger involved, but they choose to take the opportunity to help.

More important for most of us is how we, ourselves, with handle the crises that life throws our way. Those who see only the dangers involved may seek relief by hiding or withdrawing into their own protective shells. It is all too easy to let fear take hold and paralyze us from taking any actions. Maybe we don’t step in when we see bullying taking place or perhaps we cross the street to avoid the person with whom we have a disagreement. Maybe we refused to believe that a mistake that we have made has ended a relationship. In the realm of “fight or flight” reactions, those are all flight responses to crises.

The response that sees opportunity in the crisis is not necessarily a “fight “response so much as it is a “take action” response. These people see the opportunity in the situation – the opportunity to do something in response.  People who see opportunity in crises immediately go in to problem solving mode, whether it’s jumping into action and quickly figuring out a rescue plan at an accident or conflagration, or assessing what needs to be said or done to defuse and calm a personal conflict. It’s not so much that they don’t see the danger in the situation (after all the burning car right in front of them is hard to miss), it’s just that the opportunity to help, to do something , overrides their fear of personal danger. They NEED to act – to seize the opportunity.

For most of us, life is quite a bit less dramatic than encountering accidents with people trapped in burning cars or, maybe,  having to react in an active shooter incident. Our “crises” are usually the result of interpersonal conflicts or misunderstandings and certainly the “danger” involved is usually not immediately  life threatening.  For some, however, the anxiety or depression that can result from these crises is life threatening in a very real way. Setbacks or dissapointments may become crises because of their inability to deal with the events that occur in their lives. Those “crises” may represent an opportunity for you to jump in to save the life of your friend or loved one; but, that’s a topic for a future post.

What is a crisis? There is an interesting article on the Marking 91 web site that classifies 8 different types of crises –

  1. Technological
  2. Financial
  3. Natural
  4. A crisis of malice
  5. A crisis of deception
  6. A Confrontational crisis
  7. A crisis of organizational misdeeds
  8. Workplace violence

Who knew that crises could be so neatly categorized? Go read the article and see if there are any other categories that you might add.

No matter what the crisis the key thing is how you deal with it. I’ve posted here a few times on problem solving, so I won’t repeat all of the at advice. Just search problem solving to see the posts.  What this post is focused upon is the recognition that one is in a crisis situation and the considered decision to deal with it rationally. It is not unusual for crises to occur at a fast pace and perhaps in a confusing environment. That makes it all the more important to be able to step back for an instance, recognize that you are dealing with a situation that requires that you take some action and then formulate a quick action plan. Just that moment of clarity is often enough to snap you out of panic and into problem solving mode. In that moment, you have regained control, not of the situation, but of yourself.

Some people actually think ahead about what they might do in a crisis situation. Airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger said in his post crisis interviews that he had been thinking hew entire career about what to do if the plane that he was piloting suffered a catastrophic failure of both engines. He certainly didn’t think that he would ever have to put those plans into action until the day that he had to land his crippled plane in the Hudson river. I have also posted here in the past about not overthinking (called worrying) about all possible outcomes for some future event, especially those involving personal confrontations. There is a big difference between doing some planning and just plain worrying about things.

So, how will you handle future crises? It is OK to recognize the danger in the situation. That keeps one from becoming foolhardy. Rather, try to keep calm and focus upon the opportunity that is also there. There ae good, bad and ugly possible outcomes in all situations and you can find he good outcome if you just look for it. If you are a person of faith, take heart in this passage from Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Imagine how much better you could handle the crises in your life if you approached each one with the Peace of God in your heart and mind.

Be at Peace and see the opportunities.


You can’t deny it, so deal with it…

September 18, 2019

The first stage of grief is often defined as denial, the “I can’t believe that he/she is gone” or “I can’t believe that this happened” stage. That is also the first stage (maybe the precursor is a better description) of dealing with problems in life. Recently this quote appeared in the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“When you confront a problem, you begin to solve it.”  (Rudy Giuliani)

Zig Zigler put it slightly differently – “ The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.”

I’ve posted here a few times about problem solving (see Problem Solving 101) and there are lots of great posts and article on line about how to resolve a problem, once you have identified it. There are fewer things devoted to recognizing the problem in the first place.

Confronting the problem means acknowledging that it exists. For many it is that first step that is missing. They can’t see the problem, especially if it is them – how they are acting in or living their life.  Spousal abusers seldom see what they are doing as controlling or manipulative, much less as abusive. Addicts become too focused upon the next high to deal with their addiction. Sometimes it is hubris, as much as anything else that clouds the judgement of the problem; the arrogant and self-important people of the world see things that are considered wrong by others as rights or entitlements. For these people, who can’t see that they have a problem or that they are the problem, interventions by family or friends is often the only way to get them to confront the problem.

If denial is the first stage precursor to dealing with a problem, many times it is quickly replaced by excuses. The immediate response to any threat is fight or flight and excuses provide a little of both by providing a way  to deflect blame for the problem by claiming that it someone else’s fault or caused by someone else. The wife beater may blame the actions of his wife to justify the beating with the comment that “she deserved it”. It is also easy to shift the blame for ones actions on some nebulous entity, such as society or everybody.

Do you remember what your mom told when you used the excuse that “everybody is doing it” to justify something stupid that you did as a youth? That advice still applies to your adult life. You can’t ignore or deny a problem that you might have by citing that excuse. Maybe the “everybody” that you know and to whom you are referring to is a big part of your problem.  Recent Chevrolet commercials have used the tag line “Find new roads”; maybe you need to “Find new friends”.

Perhaps the third stage as a precursor to solving problems in your life is the feeling of isolation or loneliness that overcome you. It is a very lonely feeling when you have that “aha” moment and realize that you have a problem and that problem is within you. All of a sudden, everyone else seems to drop away and you are standing there by yourself with your problem. Or are you? That is the time when your faith can provide you with the support and strength to carry on. You are not alone. You are never alone. God is always there with you and ready to help. You just need to ask.

If you can get to that stage, where you ask God for help with your problem, you have broken through the stages of denial and blame and started to deal with the problem. That is huge!  It is likely that the problem is not resolved just because you have taken that first step, but you are on your way in a new direction (the right direction).  You have taken ownership and sought help. It may be that you need the help of others – therapists or councilors – but you already have God at your side, so that part is easier.

When you reach this stage, you should feel good about yourself, maybe for the first time in a long time. You may still find the next few steps in the problem solving process to be difficult, but they are rewarding as well. The problem is no longer in control of you. Now you are in control of the process to resolve it. Congratulations.

Start your day by asking for God’s help with whatever problems you have (or have been denying). Your day will go much better.