You can’t create the desired results you want AND problem solve at the same time.

Creating is creating, problem solving is the removal of something unwanted.  How often do you find yourself focusing on a list of problems to solve.  Some of which are real – the belt on line 1 has just snapped for the 3rd time this quarter.  Some are more circumstantial – when the marketing team understand what we do then things will be a lot easier.

By contrast how often do you find yourself focusing on creating what you want?  I want to increase line efficiency to 98%.  Now if line efficiency is a steady 95% you’re going for what you want.  However if line efficiency is all over the place, then be careful you don’t get sucked back in to problem solving mode.

Creating takes a different energy to problem solving.  Creating is at first expansive and freeing, then when you know what you want to create comes tension and that lovely dance of forwards backwards as you go from the thing not existing to it existing.

Problem solving is contractive.  Always you are attempting to avoid, move away from or remove something.  There is an undercurrent of rejection.  Even in problem solving there is a tension and a forwards backwards dance, however along with this is a state of unwantedness.

Creative problem solving has its place, and yet it’s not creating, its finding new, different, alternative ways of removing something you don’t want.

As always in leadership clarity is king.  Creating is easier than problem solving, it just happens to be rarer.  Once you’re clear on which you’re doing you’ll have an idea of the energy it’s going to take.  Now you may decide that you want to create more.  Of course you can problem solve this “I don’t create enough, how can I find more time to create.” Or you can just decide that you’re going to create something.  Whatever that may be.  Of course the problems you have right now might still be there at the end.  In which case you are in status quo with the problems and now you have also created something you want.  However very often what happens is you’ve created something you want and along the way some of these problems disappeared. Poof as if by magic.

Here’s another way of looking at it, are you going for what you want, irrespective of current circumstances, market trends, resources etc?  Don’t misunderstand me I’m not saying that by going for what you want there will never be any challenges or obstacles to overcome – here’s where problem solving is at its most useful.  Or are you removing problems in the vague hope that one day when things are different you’ll be free to go for what you want?

Here’s the thing that I’ve noticed recently, it appears that once our mind gets fixed on problem solving, it’s as if it gets hooked on problems.  So unless you really love problems and fancy creating more of them, you might want to shift what your mind pays attention to.