In the past few months, there are two things that I have been reminded about problems. First, not only does everyone have them, but it's likely that many other people are trying to solve the same ones that you are wrestling with. Second, every problem has multiple layers, and when you assume you know what all the layers are, you're going to have a tougher time solving it.

It's easy for us to get caught up in our own self-important world and situations. The truth is that when it comes to problems, the ones that keep us up at night are likely not unique to our state of affairs. The key then would be to seek out others struggling with similar scenarios. Find a way off of the isolated Problem Island. On the island, we tend to go round and round over things in our own heads. Back on the mainland, more brains on the problem should make solving it more likely. (You'll also be suprised at how often your version of the problem seems less severe when you discover what the rest of the world is dealing with.)

Another consequence of living the life of a castaway on the island is the 'what we see is what we're dealing with' assumption of problem defining. More often the likely scenario is that the problem we're analyzing has hidden layers that we cannot see, or even possibly understand. We need to be open to the possibility that there could be more going on than we are aware of. Assuming that what we see is what we're dealing with will frequently lead to a flawed, short-term solution. (Back on the mainland, more brains on the problem means more views of the problem.)

Step away from your problems for a little while today, and spend some time building a raft instead. Problem solving life is good on the mainland. Reach out, connect, and share. (And good luck.)

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