How to Change Challenges into Questions to Find Solutions

The power of changing your challenges into questions

Tell me:  “What challenges do you face currently?”

Challenges AheadThis is not a rhetorical question, think about it and spend 5-10 minutes writing them down.  Do this with your colleagues.  As a group defines what your top 3 challenges. Only then read on. It will be worth it.

You now have a list of key challenges.  Look at them.  My money is on that most, if not all, of your challenges, are “out there” and not “in here”.  For example, we have challenges to do with the market, with senior management, our reports, our suppliers, our customer’s etcetera.

Funny that – have you noticed that we are never part of the problem?  If this is not ringing alarm bells for you then it should.  If we see our challenges as external to us then we are admitting two things:

  1. We lack ownership of the challenge and we are prepared to abrogate our responsibility in taking on the challenge, and secondly,
  2. We are adopting a fixed mindset in that it is the external factor that needs to be changed, not us.  As such, it reduces our opportunity to learn and develop from the situation, and to realize the associated benefits.

So how can we turn this around?

Using Questions

Take your top three challenge statements and change them into questions.  This has two powerful and helpful effects:

  1. Asking questions elicits answers – and within those answers are strategies for actually carrying out the work.
  2. Questions inspire thoughts about our intrinsic motivations for successfully meeting the challenge.  As such, intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic incentives in moving people and driving results or outcomes.

To do this is not as easy as it sounds, and it often takes longer to do than expected as there is a much sharper focus on the issue at hand. It also makes us responsible for the challenge and to identify, develop and implement the solution.

Question-Goals – Identifying Solutions, Not the Problems

Challenge Statement Challenge Question
Difficulty in retaining key skilled staff How can we use the skills of our key people so that they are engaged, challenged and contribute to our business goals?
We have too much to do, and too little to do it with What are our customers’ key needs and how does that affect our priorities?
Difficult to plan in such an uncertain business environment What are our core skills and competencies and how can we employ them effectively in a variety of alternative scenarios?

So, start the year, and continue to review during the year, by looking at your challenges and turning them into questions.  Cascade this approach throughout the business and you may be surprised at the impact!

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Why People Fail to Achieve Their Goals

The four reasons why and what you need to do

Most people and I assume that you are one of them, know the importance of having goals and goal- setting. Setting goals gives you something to strive towards and boosts your self-confidence when you achieve them.

But do you set goals and pursue them? Research suggests that 80% of all people never set goals for themselves; furthermore, of the 20% that do set goals for themselves about 70% fail to achieve them. In short, only six people in every hundred set and achieve goals for themselves!

So why do people fail to achieve their goals?

There are four key reasons that underpin this. These include:

1. Setting goals that are too low – people tend to set goals that are easier for them to achieve rather than harder goals which are more demanding or which will take them outside their comfort zone. As a result, they are not motivated sufficiently to achieve the goals and them under-invest in what they need to do and how they do it. As a result, people set themselves low goals which they fail to achieve – hardly an inspiring level of performance!

2.The planning fallacy – this is when people underestimate the amount of effort, time, resources and energy that is required in order to achieve the goals. So they find that what they have to hand and with which to achieve the plan is insufficient. In these situations, people lack persistence and often give up or make excuses for themselves.

3.Optimism bias – people tend to be too optimistic in terms of how easy it will be achieved; this, in conjunction with the planning fallacy, results in people developing plans on an overly hopeful basis. These plans then quickly fall over when an unexpected event occurs, or progress does not occur as expected; this puts people on the back foot and they become reactive focusing on trying to catch up on an unrealistic plan.

4. People look to compete, not dominate – your goals are in place to help you achieve your strategy. The strategy is not about competing against your competition, it is about winning – and to win you must dominate your market. If you just compete you are looking to beat your competition, not dominate them.

Four Steps for Achieving Goals

  • Set Your Goals – it may seem obvious, but you can’t achieve goals unless you know what they are.
  • Make your goals significant – don’t go for 10% over what you achieved last year that is just an incremental improvement. Go for something really significant; improve by a factor or two, three, four or more. At worst if you underachieve on a much larger goal you will have achieved much more than on an incrementally larger goal, at best you will be on a much higher level.
  • Take non-stop action continuously in your efforts to dominate.
  • Once you start to achieve your goals then step up your level and intensity of effort.

Once you have your goals in place then pursue them. Don’t make excuses for failing to achieve your goal that just wastes time, effort and energy. It may be easier and safer to do nothing, but if you want a life that is worth living then challenge yourself and go beyond your comfort zone; set yourself challenging goals and pursue them with single-minded determination and effort that outpaces those around you.

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Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.