Focus on Solutions

I get asked: “How can I be successful?” all the time. One of the first things is to stop whining and complaining and instead search for solutions and take action. On my last flight back to Spain I found a good quote by Edward E. Hearn in my monthly Toastmaster magazine. It describes beautifully what I mean. It says: “Everybody has problems in life. But the real key to life is not crying over your problems. The key to life is overcoming problems, and bouncing back from them!”

It is what I keep telling my assistants. DON’T FOCUS ON THE PROBLEM, FOCUS ON THE SOLUTION!

Let me give you a few typical examples from my travels in Ukraine. One time I needed to change my international flight and once that was changed I needed a flight from South Ukraine to Kiev to catch my new international flight. 2 Assistants were supposed to take care of that and let me know in the morning what time I was leaving. At 08.30 am I was packed and ready to leave. 9.30 came and still no flight confirmations. I called my assistant. She said they were working on it and that she will call me as soon as she knows the details.

By now I knew I could not catch the morning flight anymore so I relaxed and started to work on a couple of articles but when it turned 11.00 and I still had no news I called her again. She said it is impossible to change my flight so they are trying to buy a new one but the price was over 1200 Euros for the one way and they could not buy the ticket because they did not have sufficient funds.

“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked. “I did not want you to think I can’t do this”, was the answer. “There is nothing wrong with not being able to do something Katya. But there is everything wrong with not admitting to it and therefore not getting things done”, I said. “Time is getting precious as I need to be in Kiev by the evening.”

It was 3 hours from my house to the local airport and still no solution in sight. I asked my assistant to come to where I was staying and that we would find a solution together. Meanwhile I looked for a number for the Alitalia office in Kiev. Unfortunately their website was down so I searched for any Alitalia office anywhere and I found a number in Rome. By this time my assistant had arrived. She told me she had called Kiev airport but there was no Alitalia office there (which turned out not to be true) She also said she had spoken to Alitalia in Italy and they had told her my Internet ticket could not be changed. I could not believe that and called the number I had found from Rome. They passed me on to Alitalia reservations department who changed my Internet ticket within minutes. All I had to do is pay 50 Euros penalty. My assistant watched me with amazement. She could not believe that I had solved the issue within minutes that she and another girl were not able to find a solution for since yesterday.

But that’s not the end of the story. Now we needed the flight ticket from Sevastopol to Kiev for the afternoon. My assistant called the companies travel department and asked them to buy the ticket for me. As I still needed to speak with a TV producer we went to the office and, once there, wanted to pick up my ticket.

But nothing had happened yet. They did not know how to pay it and again they did not call me. I told them to go to the accounts department and get the funds there. The girl went and I really thought that now all was in order but when it was time to leave, my limousine was there but no ticket. The girl was not back. When I called her she said accounts did not understand what she wanted and refused her the funds. One phone call later she had the money and we went to meet her downtown at the airline office to pick up the ticket. Again, the situation was solved once we focused on a solution and did not concentrate on the problem.

Well, to make a long story short, I caught the last possible flight at the last possible minute – once we had concentrated on the solution.

1st visit in Kiev, Ukraine 2007

My limo to the airport

Exactly the same thinking seems to be the challenge in most people’s lives. Most concentrate on the problem and not on a solution. They look at the process and not beyond but if you stare at the obstacle instead of the overall objective, you cannot find ways to overcome the obstacle as that is all you can see and you get stuck in the process.

Insights:

Always look at the big picture. Always keep the end result in mind so short term obstacles are nothing more than hurdles you need to take to get to the finishing line. For everything there is a solution. It might not be ideal and it might not be the direct line to the mark but as long as it moves you in the right direction it is much better than whining, complaining and hoping without taking action.

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