Problems vs Puzzles

I don’t have any problems, I have puzzles” – Quincy Jones puzzle

That is one great reframe.

Problems presuppose stuckness.
Puzzles presuppose what? Fun? Moving parts? Just a matter of time? Sounds like looking at the situation as a puzzle triggers us to be more resourceful.

When we talk in terms of problems, the problem tends to convince ourselves that we are stuck and not resourceful.

When I work with others, I never look at their problems as something solid that is cemented in place. I do see them as a puzzle, then start to compartmentalize the parts that make up the whole. In doing so, the person becomes hopeful and resourceful.

If we have “problems”, a great question to ask is, is this a safe “problem”?

Safe “problems” are something we make up in our mind to keep us busy, while we avoid the real linchpin.

Here’s an example.

A new coach is so excited about going out in the world and coaching. She feels her training gave her magical powers and she just can’t wait to change the world one person at a time.

Her business coach said “TTP”. Talk to people and lots of them, consistently over long periods of time. But this is too scary so lots of safe problems are created to avoid doing the one thing that would get clients.

I need office supplies.

I need business cards but who is going to design them and let me pay as little as possible?

I need to lose a little weight before I start talking to people so I look like someone that is in control, but then I need to join the gym! Etc.

Now here is the kicker. There is a part of our mind that creates safe-problems on the fly without much conscious input. This is why developing a high level of self-awareness is key. Once one knows how a trick is performed, the trick loses its power.

I’d much rather have puzzles than problems or safe-problems. 🙂

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