No matter your field of expertise or lot in life, I can guarantee you’ve run up against problems that seem insurmountable. Whatever the circumstance, these are the times when you feel like giving up.
When Problems Seem Too Big
Let’s face it, there will always be problems that seem impossible to solve. You will always have moments when you want to throw up your hands and walk away. But the odds are that you’re not the first person to tackle your particular problem. There IS a solution waiting to be found, you just haven’t found it yet.
What you really need is a change—a change of perspective.
Have you ever stood outside a skyscraper and looked up? It’s almost impossible to conceive how something so massive was ever built.
Your problem can look like that.
Now, go up the elevator to the top floor and look down. Everything down below seems so small. All you did was change your position and thereby change your perspective.
Realize the Need for Change
Here’s the deal. When you changed your perspective by taking the elevator to the top floor, you didn’t accomplish it under your own power. Sure, you’re the one who took initiative to make the transition, but you didn’t design and build the skyscraper, you didn’t pay for the electricity to operate the elevator, and you didn’t create the new view out of thin air. Your approach to solving problems should be similar. There’s absolutely no reason you should be going it alone.
Maybe you’re just stuck in a rut. Have you heard the old saying, “A rut is nothing but a grave with both ends kicked out?” If you’re stuck, you need to step back and consider whether you’re doing the same thing over and over, hoping to accomplish something new. That’s the very definition of insanity. Break out of the ordinary and try something new.
7 Tips to Help You Gain a New Perspective
- Ask for help. See if a friend or trusted colleague has any fresh ideas. You don’t have to do this alone, even if finding the solution is your responsibility. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for some input. Ask, “How would you do this?” or “Where would you start?”
- Walk away. No, you’re not giving up, you’re simply stepping away from the problem for a while. Instead of banging your head against a wall, try letting go and do something new while your mind keeps chipping away in the background. The subconscious mind has an amazing ability to solve problems on its own.
- Start over. As hard as it might be to scrap whatever progress you’ve made so far, sometimes it’s the best solution. Take a break and start fresh. It doesn’t mean all the time and energy you’ve spent so far has been a waste. On the contrary, once you start again, you’ll find the best places to insert your old data in your new approach.
- Overhaul your routine. Change things up and see if that sparks your imagination and critical thinking. Routine is good and helps us get things done efficiently, but you may have let bad habits or unnecessary actions creep in over time. Maybe your routine is fine, but you’re bored. Change it up! Inject something new into your schedule that gives you a boost.
- Broaden your horizons. It’s always possible you simply don’t know enough to make an informed decision. Have you looked at your problem from every side? Have you done your due diligence to tear the problem apart so that you’re intimately familiar with every little tidbit? This is the Eastern method of problem solving. (You can learn more about this from Chris LoCurto.)
- Break out of your two-dimensional view. Similar to #5 above, how deep does your vision go? Is your perspective two-dimensional—like an elevation drawing of a building? Sure, it may be detailed, but it’s only surface detail. Go deeper and learn more, as if you’ve been tasked to create a full architectural blueprint suitable for constructing the building you’ve envisioned—that’s 3D perspective. Then, create a timeline for your solution. When’s the deadline? How long will the necessary steps take? How much advance notice do you need to give your team? That’s a 4D perspective.
- Ask someone else take the lead. You many need to swallow your pride and admit that you’re not the best person for the job at hand. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure, but it does mean that you’re headed toward failure if you don’t make a major adjustment. It also doesn’t mean you’re giving up. It’s a sign that you’re wise and humble enough to recognize that someone else should take the lead. Now you get the chance to be a team player.
What are some ways that you find a new perspective? Share your methods and ideas in the comments.
Also published on Medium.
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