Problem solving part 4: Clearly define the problem
The first step is to CLEARLY define the situation as it exists. A poorly defined problem creates anxiety and confusion. There are countless sources of information about how to “drill down” to find the origin and nature of an issue. The classic “Book of Five Rings” gives some good suggestions In Musashi’s parlance, and one is:
Pay attention even to little things.
Over the last year, I’ve looked at the “Secret Formula” realizing that what is CRITICAL is that no category be a “zero”. After all, if you have a “10” in goals (absolute clarity!), a “10” in faith (boy oh boy, do I ever believe I can and should have it!) and a “10” in gratitude (“I’m so happy and blessed! Thank you God/Jesus/Gaia/Goddess/Mom!) but a “zero” in “action?”
Do the math. 10 x 10 x 10 x 0 = ?
Yeah. But if you have even the smallest amount in the “action” category, you can make progress, and gain momentum. All you need is a “1” in every category, and you are in the game. Want to go faster? Raise your numbers AS LONG AS YOU HAVE NO ZERO IN ANY CATEGORY. This is your critical bottom line.
In writing, this is the “a sentence a day to a book a year” notion. The little voice in your head will say “a sentence a day? That’s only 364 sentences a year? What are you writing, Dr. Suess?”
What it doesn’t want you to see is that 90% of the difficulty in writing is overcoming inertia. The other 10% is sustaining momentum and acceleration.
Here’s what “a sentence a day gets you”:
- You have to find something to capture your thoughts; paper, Smartphone, index card, SOMETHING. And transfer it to a central file.
- You have to actually make sixty seconds to do it.
- You have to find the space within which to write. An office, or at least a quiet corner or a moment in the parking lot before you go in to work. In your bed when you first wake up, or just before you go to sleep.
- You get the pleasure of watching your file/project grow, day by day. It is an inspiring and wonderful thing.
- Once you’ve done one sentence, you will find yourself laughing instead of criticizing yourself or feeling guilt. You’ve done your work! The rest is play. Most people will go ahead and write a paragraph. If you don’t, FINE! But if you do…yippee! In other words, you are acting from love rather than fear. And once you’ve done a paragraph…why not a page? It is the doorway to your optimal output (whatever that might be). One sentence at a time.
Similar “quanta” can be defined in any other arena of life I have been able to think of. If you make it small enough, all that remains is your fears, excuses, guilt, conflicted emotions, tangled values, and the other CRAP that stops you from reaching your dreams.
And now the power is in your hands. If you are willing to entertain the notion that you have the power, and that you can change, grow, and learn, and heal, that you and your dreams are WORTH fighting for…and living for…
It’s a different world.