This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on February 3, 2016.
When we have a problem, an issue we are struggling with, and ask for advice, the usual approach of the problem solver is to ask us: “What do you want?” As if you are really clear about what you want, the solution will be self-evident. Or to say it differently, your problem is because you don’t know what you want.
It is not necessarily so.
Many times we clearly know what we want and express it well, but for some reason, it makes us even more frustrated because, for some reason, we are not able to implement the solution we want.
This is also evident in the consulting profession.
The consulting practice starts with defining goals and proceeds to elaborate a plan of action (at a nice fee) as to what the company should do.
And what happens?
The consultant recommends a horse and what emerges at the implementation stage, if at all, is a camel.
What went wrong?
The sequence that has been followed was: want > should.
Why does it not work?
Because in this sequence of the decision making process, there is insufficient energy to carry out the decision as designed.
Energy is fixed at any point in time and in the sequence of: want > should, there is a “leak” somewhere that robs the solution of energy. That is why we are even more frustrated with our solution than with the problem.
Where is the leak?
We ignored the “is,” the reality.
As we deliberate what we should do and what we want, deep inside our conscience, there are doubts as to what we can do and if this is the real problem and thus if it is the right solution.
The problem solving process should start with the “is” imperative; what is really going on; admit, confess your problem openly and clearly.
By not doing so, subconsciously, as you try to solve the problem, you are debating the problem and the limited energy is depleted, frustrating you from moving forward.
When you admit your disease and stop denying it, you free all the energy that is stuck in fighting your reality, in denying it. All energy can now be dedicated to a solution for designing it and implementing it.
Notice: you will not lose weight till you honestly admit that you are fat.
You will not resolve your addiction to alcohol till you publicly admit: “Hi my name is ____, and I am an alcoholic.”
So, for problem solving, start with what IS going on, honestly, truly, with no fear nor pretensions.
Next ask yourself: what do you want?
Now a gap has been created between what “is” versus what you “want” to be.
This gap is frustrating and all energy now can be focused on what you should do to move from the “is” to what you “want.”
The desired sequence: is > want > should.
The mistakes are to start with “wants” ignoring the “is” or worse starting with what you “should” do, ignoring what is the reality.
Like an architect designing a house based in principles of architectural design, ignoring where the building IS located and what the clients want.
We can notice how the practice of medicine follows the right sequence.
The doctor knows you want to be healthy, nevertheless he/she always starts with diagnosis: what IS going on, and only then proceeds with what you want and thus what the medical intervention should be.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes