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Your current problem – actually an opportunity in disguise

Note from Phil: This is a guest post from Chuck Frey, author of the new book Up Your Impact: 52 Innovative Strategies to Add Value to Your Work.

“Every great man, every successful man, no matter what the field of endeavor, has known the magic that lies in these words: every adversity has the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” – W. Clement Stone

The late businessman, philanthropist and self-help book author W. Clement Stone firmly believed that within every big problem we face lies a bigger opportunity. There’s always some aspect of a challenge that can be turned to our advantage, if only we have eyes to see it. Inevitably, thanks to his unshakeable belief in the power of a positive mental attitude, he was always right.

nose glassesIn other words, perhaps the problem is the way in which you’re looking at the problem. To uncover the solutions and opportunities that lurk within adversity, you need to step out of your well-worn paths of thinking. You need to attack it with smarter questions, which will give you the insights you need to solve it.

Thought-provoking questions like these:

– What’s good about this problem, challenge or situation?

– What benefits will you receive from solving this problem?

– What would the ideal solution look like? Can you picture it in your mind?

– How did someone in an unrelated industry or profession solve a similar problem? How can you adapt their solution to your challenge?

– What if you “crowdsourced” the solution (have a large community of people submit potential solutions to your challenge)?

– How would a famous, brilliant historical figure approach your problem or challenge?

– How can we dissect the problem into it’s component parts? Can we solve any of those sub-problems? How could the solutions you brainstormed be applied toward the overall challenge?

– Can you restate your problem? How many different ways can you restate it? More general? More specific?

– Gain a new perspective by looking at the problem from different angles. Can the rules be changed? What if you reverse your assumptions?

– Reframe the problem as a positive question, beginning with the words, “In what ways might we…?”

So what big problems or challenges do you face? How can you bring “opportunity thinking” to bear upon them?


chuck freyAbout the Author: Chuck Frey is the author of Up Your Impact: 52 Innovative Strategies to Add Value to Your Work. Chuck is a recognized expert on the topics of innovation, creativity, brainstorming and visual thinking.

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