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A World of Problem Solvers

September 19, 2012

Throughout my still short-lived career after college, I’ve discovered a problem with my generation that prevents us from succeeding in the corporate world. While this problem doesn’t inflict everyone my age, older or younger, it certainly affects most of the people I meet. It’s called lack of problem solving. It’s rare I meet someone my age who can solve problems without first bringing those problems to someone else first.

I’ve been told I am a great problem solver but I can say it  wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t until I had a boss at my former job who forced me to come to him with solutions rather than my problems that I was forced to sit and really think about the problem, possible solutions and resolutions afterward. After I honed that skill and put it to good use nearly every hour of my work day I became the “great problem solver” I am today. Not everyone has a fire they have to put out at work nearly every hour of the day, but I was blessed with a project management position that overloaded me so much I had no choice but to learn it quick. Literally every hour of my work day was spent putting out some fire here or there. I’ve since learned that not all corporate positions run the same way and that not all project managers are putting out fires all the time. But I don’t think I could survive in the job I have today had it not been for that specific position.

I wouldn’t wish that hell I endured on anyone. I left that job with 40 extra pounds, no boyfriend, no place to live and a complete life of destruction. That, coupled with my horrifying project management position, forced me to pick up my britches and move on with life as quickly as possible.

I understand not everyone can have those eye-awakening moments that put them at rock-bottom before they fully grasp the problem solving skill.

It’s always been my soap-box mantra that children should learn this trait as early as possible. I’m not saying that we should throw our children into the wild as the Spartans did (although I certainly see why that seemed like a great idea) but I do think our society would be much more productive and valuable if we didn’t have a bunch of whiners running around looking at the sky, obviously confused. But maybe, instead of doing everything for our children, we can teach them to do things for themselves. When they ask us questions why not ask them a question in return: “Well, how do you think you should handle this particular situation?” Or “What do you think the best course of action here might be?”

If we force our children through intellect and conversation to examine their problems and talk through possible solutions, I believe they’d be more successful as adults and less likely to be grouped into a particular generation’s misgivings.

The younger we teach our children these lessons, the better and faster they’ll learn to think through possible solutions later in life. How do adults function without this capability?

I’ve noticed, in my experience, that this failure to problem solve most often lies within my own generation and younger. Most of the people I know and interact with on a daily basis who are older have either learned this from life experience or have always known how to problem solve well. I can’t say it’s specifically a Generation-Y issue, but I would hope that as a generation, we’d reverse the trend and start teaching our children how best to manage the world. Capitalism doesn’t wait for others to solve problems for you. We raise our children in a capitalist world but don’t give them the one tool they need the most to succeed.

What kind of world would we live in if everyone could think critically? Moral of the story? The next time your child asks you how to do something, or why something is the way it is, help work through the problem. Slowly remove yourself from the equation as they get older. Unless they’re asking you how to turn on any electronic device over 200 dollars and your children are under the age of six, then you should probably just do it yourself.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alysha K permalink
    September 24, 2012 9:21 am

    Total agreement.

    • October 1, 2012 1:46 pm

      It’s still so crazy to me that children grow into adults without learning to think critically. Thanks for your reply!

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