The #1 Best Mindset for Becoming a Problem-Solving Master

The #1 Best Mindset for Becoming a Problem-Solving Master


There’s an illustration I often use when coaching people or having meetings with my management group and someone starts to complain that a problem is too hard or impossible to solve.

I just say “Cambodia.” They look at me funny, but once I have their attention, I say, “What you’re dealing with is not hard. Do you want to be born in Cambodia? That’s hard! Being born in a developing nation with little to no resources and education, safe water or sanitation for personal hygiene, not enough wages for food, and genocide by a corrupt ruler – that’s hard! What you’re dealing with is a vacation compared to that! Are you saying it’s hard like Cambodia?”  They say no, but If they start complaining again, I tell them I’m going to buy them a one-way ticket to Cambodia and they suddenly shut up!

I apologize to anybody who’s from Cambodia. I don’t mean to dis them or to look down on them in any way – it’s just when I look at their situation, I think that life in Cambodia is hard compared to how really good we have it here.  It’s just an illustration I use. It could be any other developing nation in the world where life is difficult, but I just like saying Cambodia. I like the word and the concept of comparing our small ‘first-world problems’ to the ones in that country. I’ve never been to Cambodia, but I imagine there are many happy people even though they may not have a lot of material wealth, but I still think life is very hard for them.

Problems are all relative. Most of the problems we’re trying to solve, especially in business, are all easy compared to being born into a place where you don’t have any options or resources. If we can keep our problems in perspective it can prevent us from giving up before we even begin because we think they’re too big to handle.

Mindset is everything when it comes to problem-solving. As soon as you say “I can’t!”, you’re right, because then you won’t. Henry Ford was famous for his quote: 

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right!” – Henry Ford

If you think a hill is climbable, you’ll take the first step. If you see it as an insurmountable mountain, you won’t even try. You need to develop an attitude that puts the problems of your life into the right perspective of size compared to the problems of daily life in some of the difficult places in the world. It helps shrink your problem down to a size you can mentally handle.

Your own mindsets, attitudes, and perspectives can be your greatest enemies or your strongest allies when it comes to problems in life. Winners don’t waste time complaining things are too hard. They use their energy to find solutions. They see the potential answers in the many resources around them and use them to the fullest. They see that compared to others, they are rich, and focus on what they have with an attitude of gratitude. Where others only see the problem, they see a world of solutions!

Becoming a problem-solving master begins by remembering all the resources, benefits and privileges you have access to. So, next time you’re facing what looks like a ‘BIG’ problem, ask yourself, “Is this big compared to living in Cambodia?”