The 4 Magic Steps of Problem Solving

Sometimes all of the motivational mantras in the world still are not enough to make you feel better. When you have a problem, a big one, a real whopper, the last thing I need is to have someone say, “Problems are just veiled opportunities” or “There are no problems, only solutions.” Even though I have said these things myself, sometimes they’re just not enough.

When we have a problem, it’s uncomfortable, it doesn’t feel good and sometimes dealing with it can be physically debilitating. The fact is most business people are not equipped to handle problems of any kind. It’s just a skill that isn’t taught. The skill of effective problem solving is a learned skill and a skill that I believe to be essential to long term survival and growth both personally and professionally.

I have found that there are some very effective and foundational methods to help you in dealing with problem solving. The one that I’ve found most effective is a four step process that’s easy to implement because it’s easy to remember. The hard part is just facing up to the process and doing it.

First let’s set the scene.

You must find some solitude. Step back and find somewhere that you can sit quietly for thirty minutes. Get away from the mob and manage the noise. If it helps, listen to music, but make it classical music. Studies show that soft, instrumental (no vocals) music playing while your problem solving actually aids in the process. It relaxed the mind allowing it to be more receptive to free and creative thinking.

Sit down now with a pad of paper. Now write down at the top of the pad your particular problem or situation. Be very, very specific about the issue as the more complete and total clarity you have the odds of getting a quick solution grow.

So now the four MAGIC steps in making problem solving easy!

Write down these three questions and then answer them quickly and without hesitation, then write your answers down.

STEP 1: Ask yourself, “WHAT HAPPENED, really? “ What happened that causes this situation that you’re concerned about?  Be honest…what really happened?

STEP 2: Ask yourself,  “Why did this happen?” What were the circumstances behind the issue? What caused the situation in the first place? Again, be absolutely honest no matter how it may hurt.

STEP 3: Ask yourself, “What can I do so that it never happens again?”  What are the things I can do, actions I can take, changes and adjustments that can be made so that this situation never happens again?

Step 4:  Put the issue in the rear view mirror! Literally, hold your arm up in the air, turn your wrist so your hand is pointing backward and ceremonially wave bye-bye to the issue! If you learned anything and applied what you learned then you can simply forget about the issue completely, knowing with confidence that the issue will never happen again, but if it does you know what you need to do to squash it immediately.

It’s all about learning from our problems and issues that we’ll face in life.  Use this system and leave all the anger; frustration; blame and indigestion to someone else. All that can be damaging to your health and can be very costly. Remember….

What Happened?

Why did it happen?

How will it never happen again?


If you have an issue and you’re struggling with it, write or give me a call. This is what I do and I’m open for business.


Coach Dan

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