Moving towards a solution
I had a boss that gave me a great piece of advice: bring me solutions, not problems. This doesn’t mean that the problems aren’t real or you ignore them; rather the easy path is to just complain about the problem and make someone else do the hard work to fix it. A far better path is to spend the time to try and understand the problem more deeply and propose some potential solutions. Why is that?
It is easy to point out things that are wrong. Furthermore in doing that, you often dwell on the cause of the problem/people that casts things in a negative light. That negativity can bring down the team and/or send blame at individuals which hurts morale. Instead, I find it far more helpful to acknowledge the challenge, but focus on potential solutions. This creates a more positive and collaborative atmosphere to move forward.
It doesn’t take much effort to highlight what is not working. But it takes far more effort to spend the time to deeply understand the problem, the root causes, the motivations, brainstorming potential solutions, and forecasting their expected outcomes. Doing this process not only will improve your decision making, it also does the legwork to help your boss focus on what matters versus starting from a blank slate.
Nobody is perfect. There is a resilience that comes from overcoming obstacles. One of the traits we look for in entrepreneurs is the ability to have overcome difficult challenges in the past. Bringing solutions is another example of how you can show persistence to move past the inevitable difficult circumstances you will encounter in life and in business.
The next time you are dealing with a difficult situation, don’t just point out the problem but rather spend the time to bring forward potential solutions. Even if not the “right” solution, it can move the conversation forward and closer to a better solution than just staying at the problem stage. It is much easier to react to potential solutions than just staring in frustration at the problem.