The first thing that typically goes through one’s mind when presented with a problem is the problem itself. We ruminate upon it, emotionally fixated on the fact that a difficulty has presented itself. In that instant we become paralyzed and trapped in the moment, thinking how difficult or terrible the problem might be. We vocalize about it, telling our spouse or our co-workers about the problem. We worry about it, caught up in a melodrama that perhaps we have created all on our own, and allow the problem to continue to exist and perhaps worsen the longer we fixate upon it.
But what if instead of fixating on the problem, we focused on the solution? So, then, the question becomes “how” do we take our focus off the problem and put it on the solution. “How”, indeed!
You see, when we are presented with a challenge or a problem, we should recognize the problem, and then we should quickly move on towards looking for a solution. In order to do this we have to ask this one question – “How, do I solve this problem?” By asking “how”, we no longer fixate on the problem.
In martial arts, the example would be of a student who cannot do a jumping, spinning crescent kick. They try to do it, but they are stuck trying to figure out the mechanics, and the problem grows in their mind because they cannot focus on the correct movements. Instead they focus on just not being able to do it. They allow the problem to create an emotional barrier that impedes finding a solution. This leads to frustration, and if they do not learn “how” to do the kick correctly, this problem grows over time leading to greater frustration in other areas. In this case, when the student says they can’t do it, they should instead be stating they do not know “how” to do it. Then from there they should be asking themselves “how” do they learn “how” to do it.
This also comes up in daily life outside martial arts. In the business world, for example, sometimes upper management devises a new policy requiring higher production or higher sales quotas. The higher production or quotas are so high that mid and lower level management and all the other employees look at the issue as something existing in the realm of impossibility. They throw their hands up, emotionally, and say this can’t be done. But if they take their emotional focus off the problem and put their logical focus on the solution, they can quickly ask the question how is the new, higher production or sales quota achievable? This leads to thought-evoking steps and brainstorming, followed by the next question in the solution process: What, specifically, needs to be done to reach the solution to this problem? What steps can be specifically taken?
So don’t get stuck in the emotional trap that a problem creates. Instead, look to the logical solution by asking one question: How?