When I was growing up, whenever I faced a problem my father would turn to me and simply say, “Boy, find a solution.” It may not sound like much, but decades later I still hear that ringing in my ears whenever I am faced with a challenge. By simply telling me to “find a solution,” he was assuring me that there was always a way to beat what I was facing. If the way was not immediately obvious, it was my responsibility to figure it out – to find a solution. To this day, when I am facing down something that seems insurmountable, I take a breath and think to myself “just find a solution.”
Too many people let stress narrow their thinking. When faced with a major problem, a seemingly impossible goal, or even an everyday challenge, a lot of people get tunnel vision, focusing only on the issues at hand, and not expanding their minds to find a solution.
I firmly believe that there is a solution to everything in life. The trick is staying nimble, and finding that solution before the clock expires. Every challenge comes on a timer. People only fail when they either give up, or run out of time before finding the right path. Whenever I pitch a new business, I go in with the understanding that the pitch I came up with will not resonate with everyone. I will inevitably need to change the narrative to fit the needs of the person I am presenting to. I always stay honest, but I make sure to be flexible, because historically I have had to make pitch changes quickly before my opportunities evaporated. I kept one eye on my goal, and my other eye on the clock, and made sure I advanced before time ran out.
To varying degrees, this type of problem solving happens daily. If I were to stay stubborn, and insist on taking my favorite approach when tackling a challenge, I would remain stagnant until time expired. A lot of people fail this way because they refuse to problem solve, think out of the box, or ask their network for help.
So the next time you are faced with a challenge, and your first approach doesn’t work, be ready to change course at a moment’s notice. Instead of panicking and watching the clock tick down, look left, look right, find a new way to go after what you want with the time you have left. Rely on your network, activate some internal grit, and don’t stay married to your first, second, or even third ideas.
As long as you cross the finish line before the clock expires, it won’t matter how you got there.